Here at TechCrunch there’s a daily argument in the office, on Yammer and even on the blog about the supremacy of the iPhone versus the Google-Voice-goodness of Android phones. I chalked it up to the usual get-off-my-lawn-style ranting of Michael Arrington, and assumed the average techie was still like MG Siegler, a total Mac-head who will love the iPhone no matter how bad the reception, how bad the battery life and how many times it breaks and he has to get a new one.
But some reporters– long harassed by Mac fan boys when they’ve dared to criticize the company (read: do their jobs) — are saying a sea change is occurring in Apple fan boy nation. Witness Jon Fortt of Fortune’s recent blog post where he says the Valley owes Microsoft an apology and compares Apple to Napoleon the pig in Animal Farm. He writes:
“I’m sorry, Microsoft. On behalf of Silicon Valley, I’m sorry.
We cursed you, mocked you, labeled you the Evil Empire. Your crime: trying to control the technology world. Sure, we had reason to be upset. During the dawning of the PC era, the Windows operating system made you the most powerful company in tech, and it went to your head.
Your detractors say you intimidated PC makers, crushed Netscape, and tried to turn the web into an extension of the Windows platform. As it turns out, local darling Apple (AAPL) probably would have done the same thing.
Just look at how Apple is behaving today with a fraction of the power you had.”
Now, look at the comments. You have to scroll pretty far down to get the usual how-dare-you-criticize-our-iPhone-lord-and-savior comments. Most of the comments disagreeing with Fortt are pretty well-reasoned arguments that raise good points.
Of course, it’s likely that Fortune moderates its blog comments, so maybe we’re not seeing the whole debate. But on the Sunday morning tech show that both Fortt and I appear on, he argued that indeed the fan boys just weren’t out in the same way they’ve been in the past. Host Scott McGrew argued he too had witnessed a fan boy sea change. [Video below; whole episode is here.]
I remain dubious, as much as I’d love to believe that sub-human behavior like the anti-Semitic attacks and death threats that Barrons writer Eric Savitz had to endure in March 2008 would never happen again. Savitz had the gall to report Wall Street was worried that iPod and iPhone sales might sag. It was hardly controversial considering the stock was down 35% for the year at the time he wrote it.
So, fan boys: Here’s your chance to agree with me for once. Is Jobs nation still alive and well? For the record, I hope I’m wrong. My husband and I own half a dozen iPods, a Mac desktop and four Mac laptops. We’re clearly fans of Mr. Jobs work. But placing a company above scrutiny is bad for business, bad for the Valley and bad for tech.