Do (Computer) Geeks Really Rule the (Computer) World?

I just read about an interesting development with the latest iPhone. It all started when we found out the iPhone’s antenna is bad. Now we’re finding out AppleCare has informed customers it won’t be fixed (really), Consumer Reports specifically does not recommend the iPhone 4, and Apple forum moderators are deleting threads right and left, which apparently isn’t out of the ordinary, nor will that likely change in the future. (Whew, that was a mouthful!)

If that weren’t enough, Megan McArdle reported about a growing aggravation with Apple’s policies among the geek crowd (surprise, surprise).

Now, what I have to say here is largely speculation. It’s one of those thoughts where you think about it, and it interests you, but you have no real way or need to prove it at the time, but, as time goes on, you start to notice patterns that add leverage to the idea.

It started with Firefox’s growth, which is almost a miracle. I was trying to figure out, during Firefox 2, how in the world it got so popular. Internet Explorer is still the default on every single Windows computer out there, (and that’s quite a few). People have to actually go out there and get Firefox. How in the world did they decide to do that?

In my corner of the universe, there’s only one way Firefox spread around: word of mouth. Word of mouth has to begin somewhere, though. As I read the Wikipedia article on the “History of Mozilla Firefox,” it became clear that the initial audience was the computer geek, until later versions. If they knew about it first, and they told all their friends, and the word kept spreading because the geeks kept supporting it, then that might explain Firefox’s popularity.

And then there’s the growing hatred of Windows. I’m sure many of you who are reading this blog are Linux users and have spouted your hatred of Windows, like I have, at every polite and appropriate moment possible. That, in combination with Apple’s increased focus (at least in the past) on pleasing developers (us geeks again!), can mostly explain Apple’s success.

There’s probably a few other examples I’m missing that I’ve discovered over the years. Nothing here is conclusive, and with something so socially oriented, I’m not sure there’s ever going to be proofs. Nevertheless, the patterns are definitely there. Besides, people tend to look up to the folks who deal with technology, when it comes to tech advice. It only makes sense, and that alone adds to the power of the computer geek

My answer to the “Do Geeks Really Rule the World?” question, then, is “mostly”.

It almost doesn’t surprise me, then, that, if Apple is getting slammed by geeks for their restrictive policies against developers and geeks, their popularity would begin to fall among everyone else.

What do you think? Am I going a bit overboard?

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Comments

  • numerodix  On July 14, 2010 at 4:10 am

    Yeah, I think there’s something to that argument. In technology geeks set the tone for what is worthwhile and what isn’t. I’m sure that if it wasn’t for the many geeks who lauded Apple stuff they wouldn’t have been nearly this popular today. And certainly lots of “I don’t reayll consider myself a geek, but” kind of people like to think they are on the cutting edge of tech, as they take their cues from “well connected” geek friends.

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  • […] I just read about an interesting development with the latest iPhone. It all started when we found out the iPhone's antenna is bad. Now we're finding out AppleCare has informed customers it won't be fixed (really), Consumer Reports specifically does not recommend the iPhone 4, and Apple forum moderators are deleting threads right and left, which apparently isn't out of the ordinary, nor will that likely change in the future. (Whew, that was a mout … Read More […]

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