Fanboys and How Companies Manage Them

Some time ago, I talked a little bit about how I thought any sort of collaboration or merger between Nintendo and Apple was completely absurd. Although in philosophy and in design of their products the two companies are alike, there simply wouldn’t be any sense or cohesion in the idea of any type of mesh between the two.

However, after thinking some more about it over the past month or so, I have realized that there is one big glaring similarity that both share. They both have an insanely rabid fan base. Both Nintendo and Apple are one of the very few sort of companies who can hold their own events and expect the press to show up and (somewhat unethically) applaud and cheer as they announce products. Granted, Apple does it far more. But they are a larger company and have a vastly larger product line when it comes to hardware. And yet, though these two fan bases share many similarities, they are completely and inherently different.

Any look at Apple messageboards, blogs, and podcasts easily show that the majority of the enthusiasts of the company are mature, well informed, eloquent and usually highly educated. However, the Nintendo fanboys are generally of a lesser age, somewhat less mature, and not usually informed as well as they could be about the workings of top tier businesses or their competitors. I don’t intend for that assessment to be taking a swing at them at all, I love Nintendo’s products as well. It’s simply that, at a moderate glance, it would seem that many are younger and don’t yet care to take a critical eye to what they follow.

I think perhaps the ways that these two companies deal with their respective bases mirrors it as well. Apple is usually responsive to the needs of its users, given their continual software updates that mostly tend to deal with the gripes of those who use the products. The translucency issue in 10.5, or the ability to somewhat modify the iPhone interfaceare good indicators of this. However, to their credit, Nintendo doesn’t fall in to every demand of its base. Because those demands are usually unrealistic. Instead, they tend not to specifically serve their base, but the widest audience who could possibly use their products. It’s not that they don’t care for the needs or wants of their base, it’s just good business for them to expand outside of it. Apple does this too, but the nature of their business allows them to cater to both their base and their possible adopters.

Again, some reasoning why I think the two could never join. They have to approach business very differently. But what interests me the most is how they respond to these fanboy bases. I really think that, differing vastly from Nintendo, Apple has one of the best relationships in the business when it comes to that of their users and audience. But that still can backfire, given the outrage of the iPhone price drop last year. It’s just funny how that both can effect one another, I am just not aware of any other company having that sort of give and take with its customers.


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