back to article Apple, Google, Microsoft – are you a Brand Taliban or Brand Evangelist?

Day in, day out commenters do battle on Reg forums behalf or against companies. It used to be Microsoft, and then Google, but lately our readers are most polarized when discussing Apple. Why the passion, the animus? As some commentards note, we are talking about a phone here, a way of doing things there, and a software-based …


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  1. petur


    Journalism used to be about facts, these days, 50% is rumors and opinions.

    You can' t argue facts, you can argue opinions.

    If El Reg sticks to the facts and stops the bashing, maybe the readers will do the same?

    1. Daf L

      Don't agree

      I like opinion. I feel it is becoming more and more diluted in the News media today. The BBC has news based on the facts but there is so much missing from their articles as they tend to not report anything until it has been confirmed by the relevant authority that I have to get the rest of the story from another site.

      Any news organisation can pick a story up from the wire and reprint it to suit their own editorial guidelines but it is the opinion, the nuances, reading between the lines and picking up the hypocrisy in a news article or press release that I appreciate - and that is often what The Register does so well (with its better journalists anyway).

      I don't condone deliberate fact hiding or completely partisan or opinionated ranting form a news outlet, including the Reg, but I feel their sceptical view of everyone is a good trait. It has stopped them jumping on the Apple bandwagon and avoiding the hype of other new technologies.

      Sometimes they get it very wrong and their scepticism is unwarranted (I've even seen articles linking to Wikipedia!!!), but I think every journalist should be a sceptic, to even their favourite companies (as should anyone who is part of the IT buying decision process!)

  2. Admiral Grace Hopper

    He's right on the money

    For everyone except for me , of course.

    [Note: this post was prepared in a factory that processes irony. This post may contain traces of irony.]

  3. rogue lj
    Thumb Up


    Yes, Green is correct, although this type of effect applies across a greater range of human experience than just our reaction to a brand.

    Go read Robert Anton Wilson's Prometheus Rising for a far better explanation of this than I can offer.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I like Apple products, but in my experience (iMac G5, Mac Mini, iPod Touch and iMac G3) the hardware is sometimes unreliable and expensive to repair. I also like the iPhone but cannot get used to not having a proper keyboard so stuck with the far inferior WinMo.

    As for being a "Brand Evangelist", well Amiga is best!

  5. Martin 37

    Readers, is Green right?

    No. Move along.

  6. Efros

    They all suck

    Apple, Google, Microsoft, BP etc etc etc...

    none of them have the goodwill, wellbeing or any other positive interest of their customers at heart, their only drive is to make as much money as they possibly can,legally or otherwise, whilst ensuring their competitors don't.

    1. Chris Miller

      No shit, Sherlock

      And that (in a capitalist society) is exactly how things should be, subject to legal behaviour.

      "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest." Adam Smith

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Yeah but no

        That's all well and good until you realise that the baker has been putting arsenic into his loaves. Self-interest is good but not to the detriment of everyone else.

      2. Efros

        Yes Shit, Watson

        It's the "subject to legal behaviour" bit that these corporations seem to have the most trouble with. I'm not saying that they should have the customers interests at heart but FFS don't pretend that you do when it is patently obvious that you don't.

    2. Chris Miller

      The point is

      that it is not in the interest of the baker to poison his customers. This is not to say that the baker may not suffer a breakdown and poison his customers, or get a gun and shoot them all for that matter, just that it is not in his own interest to do so.

      It may be in the baker's interest to adulterate his bread, if he believes that his customers will not notice the reduction in quality and switch to another baker. It is for this reason that trading standards bodies exist. If businesses can be demonstrated to have broken the law in pursuit of self-interest, they should be punished accordingly.

      1. Efros

        The point is also

        that they will adulterate the bread and in the meantime buy up every other bakery within reasonable travelling distance to ensure that the 'competition' follows suit. Politicians will also be bought to push the adulterated bread lobby to ensure the public is fully 'informed as to the wholesomeness and loveliness of not only the manufacturer, but the sweetened plastic muck they are producing under the name of bread (which has a shelf life of several years).

        I think we can safely say that all of the companies/corporations mentioned in the article and the comments have been prosecuted/settled out of court over actions that demonstrably break laws in the pursuit of boosting their shareholders dividends.

      2. Naughtyhorse

        swap arsnic...

        for cocaine, or dare i say nicotiene...

        ooooh now there a thought -best keep it a thought thogh coke and philip morris could take out a hit on me without a second thought.

        the trouble with the adam smith quote is that it's bollocks.

        people in the real world do do things for the greater good. The other plank for this philosophy is the game theory thing - you know the behavioural theory developed by a paranoid schitzophrenic while he was off on one.

        FFS indeed.

        nothing wrong with capitalism in it's place but it's place aint as our moral compass. cos thats when the wheels fell off.

        1. Mme.Mynkoff


          >> nothing wrong with capitalism in it's place but it's place aint as our moral compass. cos thats when the wheels fell off. <<

          Capitalism has done nothing for your spelling or gramm-ah.

    3. Chris Miller

      Once more, with feeling

      Capitalism is not our moral compass - it's as silly to criticise a business for lacking altruism (which is how efros started this subthread) as it is to criticise a tiger for not being a vegetarian. Capitalism provides a framework within which it's possible for companies to provide goods and services without relying on their altruism, while leaving it open to individuals to choose whether to be altruistic or not. It is far from perfect and other systems are available, though many of them have been found to lead to the gulag or the gas chamber in fairly short order.

      Perhaps we've taken the baker/bread analogy too far for an IT forum, but there's a widely-held belief that the nasty UK capitalists have turned our bread into shrink-wrapped, tasteless pap while our socialist cousins across the channel have retained their artisan bakers. Like many widely-held beliefs, this turns out to be a misconception.

      When in France, I like nothing better than to pop in to the boulangerie for a tasty baguette. But after a few hours, it has turned into a rock-hard stick useful only for making brandade de morue. Not everyone has the time or the inclination to shop for bread every day, and where British-style shrink-wrapped sliced loaves are on offer to the French, they sell surprisingly well. (Sandwiches are one of M&S Paris best selling lines.) In the UK I can buy either the long-life stuff or fresh - more tasty, but doesn't last as long - it's called consumer choice.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Titles? We don't need no steenking titles....

    Speaking as a commentard who has in the past made reference to "fanbois" I have to hold my hands up and admit that this is predominantly trolling on my part. I know I should give it up, as it really is akin to shooting fish in a barrel. The first step on the road to recovery is admitting you have a problem....

    The point I'm making is that while there are some who get all afroth when commenting on such stories, I'm sure that many (hopefully the majority) are tounge in cheek or at least at the wind up

  8. Andy Pellew

    Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD

    It would be interesting to re-visit this flame war and contact people who commented and see what they're using now.

    Me? I was fervently pro Blu-ray (which won, Yeah me) but now my Blu-Ray player is gathering dust - I haven't purchased a disk in at least 8 months and haven't switched the player on to play a Blu-Ray in at least 4 months. In fact I've sold more disks on e-Bay than I've purchased in total - leaving me with around 10 disks in total

    I now get my HD fix via AppleTV/iTunes (turns out 720p is "good enough for me").

    Go figure?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      No, it wouldn't be interesting at all. Thanks for playing.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Whose chain is being yanked, and by whom, and where are they leading you?

    Shame, shame, El Reg!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nope, he's got it arse about face

    yes, there's a sense of alienation, but a lot people try to fend that off by aligning themselves with a brand, just as the advertising industry has taught them. That brand comes to represent something about them which they must defend at all costs, because otherwise they're exposing themselves to doubt about their judgement and self-worth.

    It's just stuff, stop taking it seriously!

    The BP thing is a complete red herring: an America that has been bashed over the head continually about the environment has seized upon a legitimate bogeyman that is demonstrably doing a environmental harm, yet is conveniently un-American enough that it can be demonised while overlooking the inconvenient fact that nobody would be drilling for oil in the Gulf if there wasn't the demand for the stuff in the first place...

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Well said

      Aligning brands with fashionable causes (was Live Aid the start?) makes this kind of polarisation inevitable. As it's fashion-based it is also not long-lived just long enough for the media to milk it to death before moving onto the next thing.

  11. Bruno Girin
    Thumb Up

    John Cleese says it best


  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This used to be the realm of politics but because corporations now can be more powerful than nations, jingoism has entered into the consumer market as well.

    I think journalists are themselves to blame for this. As bias, economic agenda and advertiser pressure are dictating journalism to such a degree that people simply can't trust publications to be neutral anymore.

    And without that trust only polarized responses are possible.

    (and no, English is not my native language)

  13. Anonymous Coward

    I have no loyalty, I am a brand whore and proud of it!

    Too many sheep feel the need to ally themselves with whatever is popular at that time. This passes with age and as you get older you decide most stuff ain't worth a carrot, so you mellow based on your life experience.

    I prefer Apple computers over PCs at home, at work it's the other way round. Based on what works best for my working patterns and hobbies.

    I hate iPods, they too locked-in to the abomination that is iTunes. I prefer MP3 players with FAT32 filesystems that simply mount as drives, I like Phillips and Archos.

    I prefer TESCO pinapples over Sainsburys, TESCO taste sweeter to me. I do my weekly shopping at ASDA.

    I use LG over Apple of Nokia.

    Called being an individual and making choices based on experience and value, not because my mates choose it, or in the case of Twat-Book, virtual mates!

  14. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge


    That "You're either with us or against us" mentality has certainly taken hold in many places.

    In most cases I don't think it's for or against individual products or companies, more for against individuals; if you agree with me you're okay, if you disagree "your <insert vitriolic invective>" [sic].

    It's not new, Ford and Vauxhall owners frequently called the other side tossers for choosing the wrong car, Scoda and Lada owners were the butt of everyone's jokes, BBC and ITV favouring viewers have never always seen eye to eye, and I'm sure there are many more examples, but it does seem to have become worse in recent years.

    IMO the current predicament the west is in against its perceived enemies, particularly polarisation in America ( "Cheese eating surrender monkeys", "freedom fries", etc ) has driven polarisation and pack mentality. It's in vogue to see it as a good thing.

  15. Melvin Meatballs

    Polarised humanity

    "none of them have the goodwill, wellbeing or any other positive interest of their customers at heart, their only drive is to make as much money as they possibly can,legally or otherwise, whilst ensuring their competitors don't."

    Well, of course. That's capitalism.

    As for the debate: 'we' haven't become polarised, 'we' have always been polarized.

    Step back a few years, and that vehement polarisation was confined to fag breaks and the pub.

    The issue is not the rise of polarisation, but the rise of the ability of low-value, human opinion to be provided to a wider audience. The Web's current favour of social networking, forums, comments etc. simply brings into the light, the fact that humans are naturally predisposed to either love or hate something.

    By it's very nature, extremes define the norm and vice-versa (one can not exist without the other).

    The stance of good vs. evil has existed for millennia. There are still whole nations and belief systems that subscribe to this polarisation. And for those whose lives are less impacted by belief, simply transfer this natural state to other things.

    The only way to stop such polarisation is for everyone in the world to get along nicely and be considerate of others. But then, this would arguably staunch growth and imagination and result in a very boring world.

    What astounds me more, is the effort people will go to, to bemoan such natural polarisation, rather than go out and do something else instead.

    For the record, I use Windows PCs, Macs and Linux boxes. I have a (very simple) Nokia phone for calls/texts and an iPod touch for music (it's pretty). I listen to the radio, watch TV and read books.

    I like to think I'm not polarised, until someone offers me gnat's piss lager rather than a full bodied

    ale. Inexcusable!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Yeah, so we are all commentards that swing from one extreme to the other.

    So what? I don't have a problem with that.

    El Reg's libreal approach to commenting is what gives it it's edge and you all know it.

  17. Ben M


    Methinks he's taken one example and extrapolated that across the whole of society.

    Sure it applies in some situations, and to some entities. For example, the giants of the world:

    BP, Exxon,

    Microsoft, Google, Apple

    Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Eric Schmidt

    USA, China, Russia

    But the same feelings aren't aroused in other situations, or by other entities. Take cars, for example. Car lovers may be mild-tempered Brand Evangelists, but most aren't Brant Talibans. And I can't remember the last time someone ranted against IBM... LG... Whirlpool.. or Fiji.

    Maybe it has something to do with the tall poppy syndrome.

    And in any event, we all know what happens when you extrapolate from a tiny sample.

    1. Daniel 1


      Clearly you've never been to a Rugby Union match, where they were playing.

  18. Britt Johnston

    Polonius to journalists

    This reads like a pub discussion which the proud author could still recall in the hangover phase.

    By all means validate the robustness of your opinions against a wider and varied audience, you might be collect enough to start a funding proposal for a research project.

    For peace of mind, however, consider avoiding topics you personally care about, to avoid depression when they are torn to shreds.

  19. ColonelClaw

    I just go with what I prefer to use.

    Shocking revelation, I know, but I tend to buy stuff that I find easier to use. Right now that happens to be an iPhone and a Mac at home, in the future it may well change.

    As an example of my brand loyalty: Just yesterday I was buying a pair of summer gloves for motorbike riding. Standing in the shop going through the options the assistant noticed I was wearing a Triumph jacket and backpack, so he asked me what bike I rode. When I answered a Honda Transalp he actually called me a "traitor" - I shit you not. I just thought he was mad, I bought the jacket and backpack because they were the best on offer at the time.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    The Obligatory Apple troll

    Well, after my Iplayer (Two duff ones in a row followed by one that died just outside the warranty period), Steve jobs' control freakery, and the inconsistant declerations towards small developers, I'm never buying another device with another Apple logo on it ever again, if that counts.

  21. Keris

    I'm neither (or is that Spartacus?), and so are my friends

    I'm actually not bothered for most things. I use Windows where it is appropriate, Linux where that is appropriate, and have used Macs when that's what has been available. As far as I'm concerned it's "horses for courses". I use Windows for music composition, because the FLOSS programs are not fit for purpose (something which baldly tells me "your kernel tick rate is too slow" without any hint of even what it should be or what I can do about it is useless; a program which crashes every few minutes is similarly useless). I use Linux for reading email (I can't get viruses with a text-only mailer!) and for developing my own software.

    Most people I know are the same. Probably because none of use are keen on extremism or absolutism, we just want to get the jobs done.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pro / anti BP?

    Surely that's where this all breaks down. BP produces oil and petroleum products that are to all intents and purposes indistinguishable from every other oil company. How can you be a brand evangelist when you can't tell the difference? The only thing that really distinguishes them are their logos and okay - on that alone, BP has the best logo.

    It's different where phones and computers are concerned as you can at least pick on some aspect speed/design/OS etc and love it/loathe it.

    As for why we do it? Surely it's down to a need to justify our expenditure? 'I've bought brand X therefore it HAS to be the best!'

  23. petur

    @Daf L

    I can understand your point, but the problem is bias. And it is a serious problem.

    Every writer has and shows bias, so I'd rather form my own (well informed) opinion.

    Figuring out the facts from the fiction is becoming a rather painful task these days though...

  24. Adam Williamson 1

    Obvious problem

    There's an obvious problem with his logic. When I read a story which provokes nothing but a Minor Eyebrow Positional Shift (MEPS), I'm hardly likely to write about it.

    You can't draw any conclusions about 'all of us' based solely on the comments that are posted in response to news stories, because the set of those who post comments on any given story is self-selected and has an innate bias. It does not accurately represent 'all of us'.

  25. Mr Brush

    It's been going on for years...

    Back at school there were the Spectrum kids and the C64 kids (and the BBC kids, but no-one spoke to them).

    Then it was Amiga vs PC, Nintendo vs Sega, Playstation vs XBox, AMD vs Intel (and Cyrix, like the BBC kids all over again).

    Now we have Linux vs Windows vs Mac. I'll leave it up to you to decide who the modern BBC kids are.

    Competition is good, fanboyism is bad.

  26. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Why can't we all just get along?

    And direct our hatred at Sony? Still haven't forgiven them for that whole rootkit thing. Or for squeezing MiniDisc to death by not letting anyone else play in their sandbox. Or for...

    Anyways, my $0.02 about the whole topic is that it is rarely about people responding negatively to a corporation itself. The corporation is a catalyst for hating the most common stereotype of the that corporation's fanboys. How many Apple bashers really hate APPLE? I don't think many do. Some may disagree strongly with Steve Jobs' decisions, and indeed with the board of directors for letting him get away with it. On the whole though I think people are clued in enough to realise that Apple is thousands of employees, and hating the whole company is stupid.

    People do, however, Tend to hate Apple FANBOYS. The interesting part is that the very specific fanboys that people love to hate most likely aren’t even the majority of Apple users. They are simply the most vocal. These evangelical fanboys not only defend Apple’s good name, but frequently go on the offensive against other companies. Seemingly this behaviour is as much a pre-emptive defence of Apple as anything; switch the topic to the misdeeds or failures of “the other guys” rather than allow focus to take place on the inadequacies of their chosen club.

    This “going on the offensive” is, I think, what gets under a lot of people’s skin. They start to hate fanboys of a particular company, and this soon is transposed into hating that company itself.

    Now of course this isn’t a one-size-fits-all analysis, but it is what I believe represents the majority of individuals who fit into “brand evangelisers” or “brand haters.” You could replace the word “Apple” in the above with any company (or even product) that attracts a hard-core cadre of evangelical believers.

    I think the action/reaction is not between “my company/product” and “your company/product” but between “extremism + evangelism” and “people who have a more moderate view of life.” I know that I personally prefer to look at things as objectively as possible. Try to see the middle ground, understand all angles of a thing and compromise when and where necessary.

    People who are stubborn, evangelical or extremist can get my hackles up fairly quickly. I can’t understand them. Why can’t they see both the good and bad in people, products and ideologies? Why can they never seem to seek a happy medium between their preferences and desires and the requirements of others?

    Even though after decades of being on the internet, my skin should really be thicker, these people can and do get to me. So I can, and do, develop irrational prejudices against a corporation based on the actions of the individuals who evangelise that corporation or it’s products.

    Apple is a great example. They make a fine operating system, and (some) of their equipment is not bad. (Overpriced, but not bad at all.) Despite this, I wouldn’t use it unless forced to, because I simply can’t shake the mental association between Apple and the terribly irritating [string of expletives] who won’t shut up about it. In the case of Apple, all the bit of their works that I personally find valuable also exist in other products, such as Solaris or Linux. Though they may not be quite so easy to use as Apple, I find myself far more willing to use Solaris or Linux than I would be willing to use Apple.

    I am aware of this prejudice, and work carefully not to let it influence my professional business decisions. Apple, Linux, Solaris, Windows…they have their benefits and their flaws, and as stated above, I am a moderate.

    Still, literally /decades/ of terrifyingly irritating smug self-centred narrow-minded elitist hipster Apple fanatics has poisoned me against personally using that company’s products on any personal level at all. Even though I recognise that those types of fanboys are probably only about 20% of the user base…they are my personal Kryptonite.

    I am sure it will be easy for other commenters to read this comment and reply with something witty like “so just get over it, man! Apple’s great!” I have nothing I could say to that, so I won’t. I can’t get over it; decades of exposure have burned a deep dislike of these people (and by transference their chosen company) deep into my soul. Think post-traumatic stress syndrome, but instead of being caused by a war, it’s by over exposure to douchebags.

  27. efeffess

    The Berlin Fence is no more...

    People make the choices they want, and, judging from a number of conversations which I've observed or in which I've participated, it seems that slighting what others feeling strongly - I daresay religious - about takes little more than offering an alternate viewpoint.

    The first day I touched a Macintosh, I felt an overwhelming compulsion to wash my hands; yet, I appreciate the fact others have a choice in their computing architecture. (I loved Apple ]['s,mind you...)

    Sometimes, the fence is the safest place to sit. Obligation to side on an issue is entirely self-imposed.

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