There's more than meets the eye to recent market share gains for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) Macs. A recent survey suggests Apple may continue taking share ... lots and lots of share.

Hunch, a website devoted to collective intelligence, asked, "Are you a Mac person or a PC person?" and received almost 400,000 responses. An astounding 25% identified themselves as Mac people. Only 52% identified themselves as PC people ... also a surprising number, but not in a good way. The remaining 23% either indicated they were "neither" or didn't define themselves "that way."

From these results, you might conclude that PCs -- which run Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows operating system -- have about twice the mindshare of Macs. That's in stark contrast to market share data. Depending on whose figures you use, PCs have roughly 10 times the Mac's market share in the U.S. and roughly 10 to 20 times the Mac's share worldwide.

Topic

Mac

PC

Neither / Don't Define Myself This Way

Are you a Mac person or a PC person? 25% 52% 23%
Worldwide Market Share (Q4 2010) 4.5% to 10.8% 89.2% to 95.5% NA
U.S. Market Share (Q4 2010) 8.7% to 9.7% 90.3% to 91.3% NA

Source: Hunch.com, Gartner Research, IDC, and Canalys.

The difference between Hunch user preferences and market share data suggests the Mac could be poised to gain significant share, most likely at the PC's expense.

There was additional information in Hunch's survey responses. Mac people are 21% more likely than PC people to consider themselves computer-savvy and 43% consider themselves early adopters. PC people are 43% more likely than Mac people to say talking about computers is akin to "struggling with a foreign language," and 36% are more likely to be later adopters.

Who is more likely to influence your next computer purchase: a computer-savvy early adopter or a struggling late adopter? Personally, I'd go with the former ... and suspect most people would. That could also help swing market share momentum from the PC to the Mac.

Foolish takeaway
While Hunch says its survey has a plus-or-minus-1% margin of error, it's hard to know how representative Hunch users are of the target market for PCs and Macs. To interpret Hunch's survey as the beginning of the end of PCs would likely be an overreaction.

That said, Hunch's survey underscores the Mac's market share momentum. There's no denying the Mac's growing popularity is exacerbating what's already a tough market for PC makers such as Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), Dell (Nasdaq: DELL), Toshiba, and Lenovo. The Mac is also contributing to pressure on Microsoft. Because Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) supplies processors for both Macs and PCs, shifts between the two aren't a huge determinant for the company, though its grip on Apple computers is absolute, while AMD (NYSE: AMD) holds close to a 25% share in desktops and its notebook share approaches the low teens.

What do you think: Is the Mac's rapidly growing market share a serious threat to the Wintel cartel? An easy way to stay on top of the debate is The Motley Fool's free new My Watchlist feature. You can get up-to-date news and analysis by adding these stocks to your Watchlist now:

Fool contributor Cindy Johnson is a self-identified Mac person. She owns shares of Microsoft as a valuation call. Intel and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor choice. Intel is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on Apple. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. Alpha Newsletter Account LLC owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.