Over the past few weeks I've written a couple of first-person accounts of my experience using an Android and Windows phone. What I've found most interesting about these exercises was not the chance to try something new -- although that was certainly fun -- but learning about the extreme passion we tend to have for our smartphones.
People took serious offense when I didn't love their phones as much as they did. Some came right out and called me an idiot -- I'm not kidding. Others simply thought I was obviously so biased and loved my i-devices so much that I never gave their beloved phones a chance. If I weren't blinded by my Apple bias, surely I would have seen how wonderful their phone was and how outdated and dowdy my iPhone was.
Even when I explained that I wasn't reviewing their favorite phones so much as describing my experience as a longtime iPhone user, I couldn't placate those that were so put off and insulted that I had not given the [insert your favorite phone] the obvious love and respect it so deserved.
No matter which one we prefer, we don't just like our phones, we simply adore them -- and we feel abused when people slight our preferred option. This is something we carry on our person and look at hundreds of times per day. No wonder we develop such strong feelings.
I was lamenting about this to a friend the other day, wondering how we could take technology so personally and so seriously. Knowing I'm a big Red Sox fan, she asked how I feel about the Yankees.
"That's different," I sputtered, but then I realized it's probably not. The deep-seated love we feel for the teams we root for is probably similar in many ways to that feeling we have for our smartphones.
If Microsoft could could parlay the passion I heard from Nokia Lumia owners this week, they could be onto something. Windows Phone's worldwide markeshare is on the upswing, and has replaced BlackBerry as the number-three platform. If Microsoft could tap into that spirit I felt this week, it could get some serious brand evangelists working on its behalf.
Apple certainly understands the connection between emotions and technology choices: Just this week it released a tear jerker holiday ad that never mentions the product. It tells the story of a family holiday gathering where a teenaged son, unbeknownst to the rest of the family, uses his iPhone 5S to take videos of the family, edit it into a holiday video, and play it using Air Play on the living room TV Christmas morning. It shows without ever telling.
It's not about the product at all. It's about our feelings for that product -- and that's true regardless of the brand you happen to love.
I have surely learned a valuable lesson with these stories, and that is, we take our technology extremely personally because we have a stake in it. We believe it and yes we love it. And you can minimize that or dismiss it if you wish, but if you're a manufacturer, you had best understand it.