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.