Recent conversations between elements on the web (that I refuse to link to, sorry) have brought to mind some fundamental truths I see in consumerism. Those are brand loyalty and fanboyism and their association with stupidity or if that’s too harsh, perhaps simplistic rationalising instead.
We all prefer different things. Some say that’s a good thing because it makes us all unique. We are all individuals that like different aspects of life. When it comes to the products that we, as consumers, want to buy those aspects also differ from person to person. When a product strikes a chord with a big enough segment of the population, for whatever feature or colour or function or gimmick, the product can become a big hit - sell really well and become the product that everyone wants.
The problem occurs at that point: just because everyone wants a product doesn’t mean it’s any good.
The product could have all sorts of flaws, long term reliability issues or be easily breakable. People then begin to associate the company that made this “hit” product with the good feeling they had when they bought or used the product. Several successive “hit” or even “good” products and people begin to feel a brand loyalty and begin to defend any less than satisfactory products or defend the weaknesses of any just “good” products from that company too. This road can lead to a person becoming what many on the internet call fanboys.
The truth is that all products from all companies have problems, good points, bad points, over-design, under-design and lack-lustre features for some users of varying levels of technical nous. Loyalty to a brand above all others is irrational. Allowing yourself to become a fanboy is a waste of your objectivity. Rationalising away the problems with any product, whether it’s Google Android, Apples iOS, Microsofts Windows Phone 7, Apples OSX or Microsofts Windows will only highlight the fact that you have chosen not to be critical or to really think about the issues that annoy you about that product you otherwise love.
Be honest with yourself. Try and be objective. Discuss the relative pros and cons of one product compared to another.
One last thing. If you’ve read this post, it’s likely that you are already a fanboy or one product/company or another.
Stop it now.