Learn English – What’s the difference between “niche” and “mainstream”


Is there a word meaning that usage of something is narrower than "mainstream" but wider than "niche"?

For example, speaking of operating systems, Windows is mainstream, embedded operating systems are oriented on their niches, and Linux and Mac OS X are… well… somewhere in between. (You may arguably classify Mac OS X as mainstream-too, and Linux as still-niche, but anyway you get the idea.)

(If you know more than 3 popularity gradations, you are welcome to name them.)

Best Answer

I'd place Linux more as "alternative" and Mac-OS as "gaining in popularity" (i.e. referring to its movement/trend more than current popularity status). Unix I would say is "niche" as it's used in very particular business scenarios (such as the OS for NMR machines).

There is definitely a niche-mainstream dichotomy so rather than find new words to fill the gap, you might like to try modifiers for those two. Then you could refer to Mac-OS as "Almost-Mainstream"