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Humble Music Bundle shows charity disparity among Mac, Linux and Windows users


I bet that behavioral economists get rather excited when they see pay-what-you-want offers going viral. Assuming the seller is collecting some basic demographic detail, the resulting statistics might deliver some interesting insights into the relative altruism (or discretionary cash reserves) of different sorts of folks.

The Humble Bundle team (responsible for the Humble Indie gaming bundles that we've covered before) is running a Humble Music bundle, accessible to all sorts of music fans. Featured artists include Jonathan Coulton, They Might Be Giants and MC Frontalot; a flexible portion of the purchase price goes toward not-for-profit cause groups like Child's Play Charity and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The bundle price is entirely up to the buyer, although suggested pricing goes from $100 down to $15. If you pay more than the rolling average price (currently around $8.28) you get a bonus album of remixes from viral-video darlings OK Go. You can also define the split between the artists and the charities, and contribute a "Humble Tip" for the bundle organizers. Given that buyers can pay what they want, what sort of variance do the Humble Bundlers see among their contributors/customers?

It's not scientific, and there could be a whole horde of confounding factors, but take a look at the stats in the image above. Mac users (representing about 1/5 of the 45K total customer count) are paying an average of $9.84 for the bundle, more than $1.50 above the average price and $2.40 above the average Windows user. That might be skewed by a few "whales" who are contributing $100 or more from the Mac side, but even so the population is large enough that the differences would seem to be significant.

Before you start forwarding this post to your penny-pinching Windows-using wealthy relatives, note that the Mac users aren't the most likely to empty their wallets for tunes. Linux users, with a slightly smaller share of the overall purchases, are coughing up a stunning $11.94 per transaction -- more than $3.50 higher than the average cost. This might be an artifact of the Humble Bundle's past service to Linux gamers, who may be feeling especially supportive of HB's efforts here, or maybe Linux users feel more strongly about the charities/artists involved. Or they just really are more generous by nature. With the recently finished Humble Indie Bundle 5, Linux users donated an average of $12.51 per transaction.

It would be really interesting to do a deeper dive into the HB sales data, especially from the perspective of Dan Ariely or the Freakonomics guys. Most sellers aren't this transparent about their customers, and what they do with the behavioral data they collect -- and there's good PR reasons why they don't share more. In June, travel site Orbitz caught some flak for acknowledging that it showed different search results to Mac users (skewed towards the higher-end properties that they apparently prefer to book) than to PC users. While both sets of searchers would pay the same price for the same room, Mac users responded better to upscale hotels and slightly more expensive stays.

The Humble Music Bundle is available until Thursday, August 9.

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