A rational response, assuming one owns or is thinking of buying an iPod, is “great! This will put pressure on Apple to build better products or lower prices, which is good for me.” Yet most of the responses posted in the thread run along the lines of this: “my iPod 0wn0rz that lame Sony piece of crap.”
So apparently, if I have a Bose stereo (which I don’t), I’m supposed to want everyone to own a Bose: even if that drives prices up, it also increases my social status. Brand loyalty has reached almost absurd proportions with Apple products (I should say that I’m one of the offenders here). Sites like MacRumors and ipodlounge have almost a cult following; anticipating when the next Apple product will come out has become a hobby pursued by thousands of Macoholics.
But wouldn’t it be good for Mac users if Microsoft came out with a product as good as a Mac for less money? What if the Linux interface one day surpassed the Mac for functionality and ease of use. Wouldn’t it be better to get something just as good, but for free? I don’t think so, not for most people. Part of the satisfaction they get from owning a Mac is knowing they own the best, the crème de la crème of computers. If any Joe could install the equal of the Macintosh operating system for free on a $200 box from Wal-Mart, then the cachet of the Mac would disappear.
So why does Linux continue to gain in popularity? I think Linux users seek another sort of social status: the type they gain from being geeky enough to conquer the quirks of the Linux operating system. I suspect that as Linux becomes easier to use, it might not continue to be so popular among that crowd. Then its success will rely on another demographic entirely: those too poor to care what operating system their computer is running.