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Apple: Cool enough for your granny

Report says that nearly half of Mac owners are 55 and older--almost double the share for average home PC users.

In its latest batch of ads, Apple Computer paints the Mac as the young, cool face of desktop computing. But research has found it's the silver surfers who have a yen for Cupertino's goods, while the kids are opting for cheap Windows machines.

According to a report from industry watchers MetaFacts, nearly half of Mac owners are 55 and older--almost double the share for average home PC users.

For the digital youth, high-street box shifter Gateway is the brand of choice, taking the No. 1 slot among PC buyers between ages 18 and 25.

"Apple can claim long-time loyalists, but its future among the young technoliterati is an interesting dynamic." Dan Ness, principal at MetaFacts, said in a statement.

Apple spokesman Bill Evans took issue with the statistics.

"Our customer data shows that only around 20 percent of Mac users are over the age of 55," he said. "The Mac is more popular than ever, and we are thrilled that our products appeal to people of age 1 to 100."

In past campaigns, Apple hoped to trade on the cachet and cool of the iPod to persuade Windows users to switch to Macs, explicitly marketing the device as coming from the people behind the iPod.

The Mac maker is also reportedly investigating the true nature of the so-called iPod halo effect, in which owning an iPod causes users to switch from PC to Mac. While the Mac's market share remains in single figures, Apple has said that it's seeing more first-time buyers picking up its kit.

The halo effect is given credence by MetaFacts' research, which reports that more than two-thirds of Macs in current use were bought since 2004. By comparison, when looking at all computers in current use, only half were bought since 2004. The iPod was first introduced in 2001.

The report did find Apple users are ahead of the curve in mobility, with a far higher percentage of users who prefer laptops to desktops. More than half of Apple households have laptops, compared to the 30 percent of computer users as a whole who use a notebook as their primary computer.

Jo Best reported for in London.