Well, isn't this amusing and scary at the same time: Orbitz is now starting to show visitors who use Macs different, often higher-priced rooms than their PC-based counterparts because the company's data shows that Mac users tend to spend more on their bookings. While it's easy to poke fun at Apple-ites -- are they gullible or simply high maintenance? -- the report also highlights a possible consequence of having all your online interactions driven by scads of big data.
Orbitz bigwigs were quick to tell the
Wall Street Journal
(paywalled*) that prices for rooms weren't different for Windows and Mac users; Mac users just see classier options by default.
That's because the company's data showed that Mac users spent an average of $20 or $30 more per room than Windows users. They're also 40 percent more likely to book a room at a top-rated hotel, and when Windows users decide to step up from the hovels they're apparently staying in to make a reservation at a hotel that both Windows and Mac users frequent, the Mac users usually stay in the nicer suites. For example, almost half of the Orbitz reservations for a swanky Chicago hotel come from Mac users.
The use of predictive analytics and big data are bound to increase as time goes on and so-called success stories like this one make the headlines. Targeted advertising and service offerings definitely have their place, but still: how do you feel about being classified and treated differently because of your chosen operating system? Does it make you think twice about
Google's personally tailored search results
Sure, it's paywalled, but if you found a way around it -- say, by
heading to Techmeme
and clicking the "On Orbitz, Mac Users Steered to Pricier Hotels" WSJ link that's down the page a little bit -- you can read the article in its entirety