One of the first things they ever tell you to expect about Asian cultures is the relative uniformity as compared to the West. So you might expect that when it comes to computers, Koreans might be less diverse and adventurous in straying away from Windows PCs, and you'd be right.
Now I'm a Windows user out of necessity but as security problems grow ever more and I fill my desktop with all manner of prevention tools, I find myself increasingly reluctant to expect non-technical people to have to - or be able to - maintain these machines with any degree of success. So when it came to thinking about what to buy for Korean Mother so that she could web-cam with us when we were back in the UK, I seriously considered whether a low-end Apple might fit the bill.
But I really wasn't putting two and two together. I use the Firefox browser and ever since I arrived in Korea I've come to realise how annoyingly prevalent the use of Windows and Internet Explorer (IE)-specific ActiveX components in webpages are. For a long time, I put this down to clueless Korean web developers, but recently I discovered that there was a more bizarre explanation. The Korean Government has mandated the use of ActiveX-based authentication technology for several years, which in practicality means that if you want to do online banking or anything of a similar nature, you have to have a PC with IE. In fact, so many commercial and other sites use ActiveX whether necessary or not it's like a plague. And what this ultimately means is that if you're an Apple or Linux user you're stuffed - so of course here, you're basically buying Windows or nothing.
Because Korean Mother isn't going to be banking online, but will probably struggle to understand how to use a computer to any great extent, we may eventually opt to go down the Apple route regardless, unless we can find an even simpler way of achieving the desired result.