August 16, 2013 The State of the Power Mac

ClassicHasClass, the creator of TenFourFox, speculating on the population of the PowerPC Macs still seeing active use.

There’s no way to know exactly how many Power Macs are still out there. A conservative estimate probably puts the worldwide count somewhere in the low hundred thousands for active use, maybe shy of a million in some sort of infrequent operation and innumerable more in closets and storage, but this is all just supposition. Some get only occasional use, I’m quite sure some don’t use TenFourFox, and of those that do they may only run it periodically. Furthermore, some may dual boot Linux or *BSD, some might be in Mac OS 9 most of the time now, and some might not even be running Mac OS of any sort anymore. We just know that you’re out there, somewhere.

He surmises the total TenFourFox user base must be less than 18,000 machines or so, based on the average number of downloads per version.
Of these 18.000 Macs approximately 4,000 check-in with the update server daily.
Although it is difficult to track individual machines, the check-in process reveals information about the Mac’s IP address, CPU type, browser, and OS version.
From this information ClassicHasClass has been able to observe the state of Power Mac nearly seven years to the month after the last Apple model (the Power Mac G5) made the switch to Intel.

Users by Operating System

No surprises that 10.5 is the majority, but 10.4 maintains a very strong percentage. (Note that since 10.3 and prior cannot run TenFourFox, we don’t track it. There is probably a non-trivial number of machines in that category. Classilla does not have automatic checkins, so I can’t say anything about OS 9 here.)

The nearly even divide between 10.4 and 10.5 users is to be expected.
10.5 Leopard is a logical choice for PowerPC Mac users who can run it, because it is the last version of Mac OS X available to them.
10.4 Tiger ‘s strength comes from its tamer system requirements and continued ability to run Classic applications.

Users by CPU

This number comes from the build that the user chose to download, so these numbers are a bit less reliable. The top two are no surprise: G4/7450, not only because of the Power Mac G4 but the large number of PowerBook G4s, and of course the G5. G4/7400 and G3 builds represent less than 10% of the daily checkins combined, though they equal around 20% of the total downloads, suggesting these machines are not usually daily drivers.

The desktop-bound PowerPC G5/970 was the most powerful PowerPC processor Apple ever released, and the logical choice for a PowerPC hold-out today.
But its limited run cannot compare with more plentiful PowerPC G4.
The PowerPC G4/7450 was a popular chip used in every Power Mac G4 from the 733 MHz on.
It comes as no surprise that it makes up the majority of active PowerPC machines.

The State of the Power Mac

The best news, though, is looking at the user base figures over time. Seven years after the switch, the Power Mac may be a strict minority in the Apple ecosystem, but we’re still alive and well despite their best efforts to stick the shiv in. While we suffer some attrition from machines breaking down and people moving on, the user base at least from this surveyor’s eye may be small but still remains constant.

All of these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.
Out of the remaining Power Mac users only the most nerdy among us would think to download an alternative browser like TenFourFox.

I have a 20 inch iMac G5 I keep around for running Tiger and the occasional piece of Classic Mac software.
After almost eight years it is still a usable machine for surfing the web, word processing, and light photo editing, but I wouldn’t want to make it my primary Mac.