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By now, just about everyone on the planet has heard the term “Apple Fanboy.” If you’ve ever said anything good about an Apple product, you’ve likely been called one. But a new class of fanboy has emerged — one that, amazingly, may be be equally as passionate. The Android Fanboy. And it’s actually a good thing.
In case you missed my review of the new HTC EVO 4G phone yesterday, be sure to read some of the comments. As stated, I was coming at it from the perspective of a dedicated iPhone user. Long story short, I don’t really like the device. To the Android lovers, I might as well have killed Bambi.
Never mind the good things I said about the phone, or Android in particular. Never mind that I said that if you’re looking for an Android phone, try the Nexus One or Droid Incredible, because they’re both better devices. Never mind that almost none of the commenters had actually ever used the EVO (it’s not out yet), and plenty of them even admitted that. None of that matters. All that matters is that I said something bad about an Android device. RAGE!
In the Android Fanboys’ minds, I had just slandered the latest reincarnation of their savior. They had to respond. And they did. Hundreds of them. It was quite impressive.
So why is such zealotry a good thing? Because passion is important. If people actually care about Android that much, Google is clearly doing something right. Windows Mobile has never instilled this type of passion in anyone. Nor has Symbian. For a while, it seemed like the Palm Pre might. But it never did. But Android is.
As I described at length last week, the rivalry between Apple and Google is going to be a good thing for us all. Part of that is because the companies are largely equals, so the fight will be fair. But don’t underestimate the importance of fanboys in this equation. For too long, Apple has gotten a massive amount of free fanboy publicity while many of their rivals have gotten none. Android is now starting to get that kind of free publicity too. All of this plays into the idea that the two companies will push one another to make better products, because again, they’re on equal footing.
And Android Fanboys will make the Internet more balanced because they almost exactly counter the ideals (and now passion) of Apple Fanboys. Android Fanboys care about openness and choice. iPhone Fanboys care about presentation and experience.
The iPhone will likely never be able to match Android phones in their integration with Google products such as Gmail and Google Voice. Simply put, the integration is stellar and in my mind, the number one reason to use an Android phone. Something like Google Voice integration is powerful because you feel in control of your device in a way that you’ll never be able to with an iPhone.
But Android phones will likely never be able to match iPhones in seamless user experience because Apple, unlike Google, controls the entire ecosystem from the hardware to the software. As an iPhone user, when I switch to Android, something just feels off. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is it because it’s dozens of little, subtle things that Apple is able to do because they have the luxury of knowing you’re going to be using their software on the one iPhone form factor (which, again, they also make).
Again, it’s a great rivalry because the two sides offer two completely different executions of the same idea. And they have legions of fans who are positive that each way is the right way. This balance is good for us all — even if individual fanboy comments read like they’re from bat-shit crazy zealots.