Sunday, 30 June 2013

Fanbois

I watch a keynote from a conference and the audience goes wild. It is often said that the first two rows at these events are full of employees sitting there to scream and shout at any old mediocre announcement. it is now an established format a technology product launch. Then there are the carefully selected journalists who are allowed into a inner display area to view a new product and get those YouTube exclusives.

A lot of this is down to Steve Jobs. He raised the game in product announcements. He removed dry technical detail and made it a statement of design or fashion. He knew how to work the crowd like a market trader.

It could all be a bit of fun. After a while you will know which columnists will spin the tale that Apple can do no wrong, that Google is the nicest technology brand or that Microsoft is key to innovation. These hacks live in their own bubble as little more than an extension of the company PR machine rather than independent product reviewers.

It gets a bit silly when you get down to computer users who have made a choice and seem to want to justify some superior exclusive knowledge. You get the Apple Mac user who tells the Windows guy that his system never crashes and has no viruses. The Google fan tells me that he doesn't want all his data captured by big corporations like Microsoft and Apple. Then there is the Microsoft person who claims that open standards are pointless because Microsoft has created default industry standards.

It gets down to 'my choice is better than your choice'. Not a very adult debate.

My own choices are partly made for me. I work in an industry where 90% of desktop PCs run a Microsoft operating system. Most servers in business either run a Microsoft operating system or you need to understand Microsoft technology to use them. So to earn my living the choice of Windows is a no brainer. However to be fair most ordinary people don't choose either. Manufacturers bundle Windows on their PCs. You might argue that people should be able to choose their OS but the reality is delivering support for multiple OS systems to millions would make PCs much more expensive. Providing the 'free' Linux alternatives to the general population would be less cost effective then the semi-monopoly of Microsoft.

The 'free' cost of Google products is a trade off. Google is an advertising company. More than 90% of it's revenue comes from advertising and it knows how to advertise because of the information it trawls out of it's users. This is OK if you are prepared to accept an advertising driven model. You will never know if the search results on Google are the best results or the highest paid adverts. However just because you don't pay money to Google don't pretend it has better ethics or standards compared to Microsoft or Apple. They are all big corporations.

It is always slightly amusing when someone writes about Microsoft Office because there is always some comment from a slightly superior Linux troll saying "I don't pay for my software  you can use OpenOffice for free and it's just the same". Of course there are plenty of free alternatives but in the mainstream where businesses and government need to get problems resolved, need technical support, software updates etc there is a legitimate place for commercial software.

Fanbois - give it a rest.