Who do the Underdog Fans Root for Now?

by Chris Seibold Apr 13, 2011

Right now is the best time ever for Apple. The company is so busy owning the tablet market it can't keep the things in stock. The iPhone keeps the coffers overflowing and even the Mac is creeping up in market share. It is every Apple fanboi's dream come true. Right?

Hold on there a second, there's a dirty little secret about Apple fanboism. Back in olden times, pre-OSX, and before the return of Steve Jobs, Apple had a die-hard following. Apple loyalists would come up with any number of reasons that Macs were superior to Microsoft-powered counterparts. Macs started up faster, shut down faster, and were better because there was less software infecting them. Less software means better? What kind of crazy talk is that? The argument was that since there were fewer applications for the Mac the ones that existed were of higher quality. Yes, it seems crazy in retrospect. There were plenty of more arguments about why Apple was superior to the Windows/Intel/Dell cabal, but were they honest?

The truth was that a lot of people defended Macs and Apple passionately not because the company's products were superior, but because Apple was the underdog in a sea of beige clones. Using Apple products meant you were different—you weren't slavishly following the masses. Using Apple products set you apart. All the arguments about superiority didn't really matter because it wasn't about being superior, it was about being different, it was about backing the underdog.

Apple didn't see this at the time, which is why one of the first things Steve did when he took control was to push ahead with the 'think different' campaign. A masterful campaign that appealed to Apple's core of Mac users. You'll note that while the "Think Different" campaign didn't say anything about the Mac's superiority it allowed Mac users to know Apple felt the same way they did. Thanks for backing the underdog, thanks for being different. You're cooler than Gandhi.

But times have changed, and how. The days of Apple being the underdog are gone. When you roll out of the house with your iPhone you are one of millions. You aren't fighting the Man or backing the underdog with the iPhone, you're just getting your tech on.

It is understandable, the iPhone has all the apps, the iPhone has all the integration, the iPhone has everything anyone could want.  

When you find yourself using your iPad at Starbucks your usage isn't a bold statement that you want the little guy to share in corporate glory, you're saying : "Be very jealous. I've got a latte and an iPad!" Flashing a device that has remade the market and reaped the company who produces it billions of dollars tends to defeat the whole supporting the underdog concept.

Which brings us to a troubling conclusion. If you were one of the people who backed Apple out of spite or some anti-authoritarian reasoning and you're still backing Apple your raison d'être is dead and gone, long gone in fact. Apple isn't the underdog anymore. You're not special because you use an iPhone.

There's nothing wrong with that, whatever product works for you. But if you're one of the people who roots for the underdog, one of the folks that like to buy products off the beaten path, what kit will you be buying now?




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