It all started with a phone call from my mom. While she’s not a regular
reader, she read my Windows 7 review online, and called me because she was worried about the, umm, “colorful” comments. I told her not to sweat that feedback—that those folks are fanboys, people who suffer an excess of product-focused enthusiasm.
The conversation got me thinking, though. When I posted my positive review of Win7, I expected a strong response from the fanboy contingent. I expected people to accuse me of being a fanboy (that happened, check), and I expected my critics to attack my opinions (checkerino), expertise (Chekov), and moral turpitude (ditto).
I wasn’t surprised by the Windows XP fanboys, who let me know that their intractable world lacks a place for any new versions of Windows. Also not shocking? That the Apple fanboys are convinced that Snow Leopard is faster, better, and cheaper than Windows 7. And I would have been disappointed if the Linux fanboys didn’t tell me that I’m a dumbass for paying for an inferior, closed-source OS. What I didn’t expect? Well, what I couldn’t prepare myself for was the Windows Vista fanboy .
This revelation prompted further study into the fanboy syndrome. I stopped discriminating, and started engaging them. It turns out that the sources of motivation for the modern fanboy can be as varied as the products that they love. Nonetheless, after much study, I was able to classify fanboys into a few major archetypes:
The Underdog: One of the most common fanboy types, the Underdog throws his weight behind the long-shot. As self-described hopeless romantics, Underdogs shift allegiances with nearly every product cycle.
The Investor: With a strict eye toward preserving the capital expended on any particular product, the Investor frequently reads and argues about reviews of products he already owns, and rarely sees value in upgrading a product that he’s invested his money (and thus, his self-worth) in.
The Contrarian/Non-Conformist: Students of fanboyism commonly confuse these archetypes. They share similarities, but to the trained eye the key difference is simple: Contrarians like products because you dislike them, while Non-Conformists like them because everyone else dislikes them.
The Antiquarian: The Antiquarian’s motto says it all: “If it’s new, it’s overpriced crap.” Antiquarians can frequently be found dumpster-diving behind Fry’s, looking for “perfectly serviceable” parts that are “just” 10 years old.
You know that guy with the Commodore 64 ticking along in the corner? He’s the Historian. Odds are, he’s still running a crappy Cyrix CPU, because “Cyrix made bitchin’ x86-compatible CPUs in 1993.” Don’t waste your breath arguing with Historians.
So, where do I fit in? I’m not a fanboy at all. I simply buy whatever is fastest and gives me the functionality I need. Where do you fit in?