What Drives Detractors & Evangelists? Spoiler Alert: I dont have answers, just more questions.

Here are 3 artifacts:
1. Joel on Hello from Seattle (Microsoft Zune)
2. Apple Ipod in flames
3. Video ad bashing Microsof

More people hate Microsoft than the number of people that love Apple. (Anecdotally verified by me).

Use any search engine
with the exact phrase: Why I hate ___________ (fill in the blank with a least
or most favorite software
development company
) and you find hundreds, even thousands of passionate
detractors in the results. 

Do it again substituting
love for hate in the search phrase. Guess what? You get hundreds, even
thousands of SERPs of passionate evangelists for the same product.

It’s like hating the Yankees
because they’re good. Or loving them because they’re good. Either way, people
will generally identify with a brand positively or negatively. It’s a way of
bolstering personal identity. How can something be good if there isn’t
something bad to compare with it? 

The Big Dogs seem to be
easy targets, and there’s natural tendency to root for the Underdog. But these
are purely emotional responses. Often the reality is the reverse of popular
perception. Here’s an enlightening example in a Wired
about Gates vs. Jobs. Things may have changed since this post,
but you get the point.

Compare products too.
Both companies have created market winners and losers. Apple has the iPhone,
which is an exceptional hand-held device. They also created  Apple TV. There’s Windows Vista, and there’s Halo3.

Ultimately, the consumer
will determine the success of the product regardless of hype, or attempts to
predict future behavior. It’s like baseball players batting averages. Success
can be measured against perfection as a concept, even though it’s unattainable. 

What’s really
interesting is that the crossover between competing industry giants is blurring
the lines between their differences. For example:

Do you charge
your iPod with a Windows-based machine?

Do you use Word
on your MacBook Pro to create documents?

      .    Are you running
dual operating systems with a Parallels desktop on a Mac Pro with Intel Xeon

Many do. It just makes
good business sense to use what is available with proven tools that work best,
and most everyone uses a Microsoft product daily, whether they love it or hate

I have friends and
acquaintances at most of the major software development companies. They are
intentioned and focused on doing the best for their product. And that’s the
bottom line.