The Tribes Of Gadgets

My wife has an Android.  My co-workers have iPhones.  I'm a recent Mac convert.  These issues and more come up in discussions among people, in banter, and on serious work subjects.

In each case, I begin to notice something about  people as they discuss their smartphone or computer or whatever gadget they use.  There's a tribal feel to it.

People identify with the tech they use.  Android users can swap stories about their experiences.  Mac users trade tips and advice, and even mock the image of Apple users.  Cell phone plans are discussed, printers are rated, and USB brands discussed.

Think of these social groups as Gadget Tribes – or Gadgetribes.

Stand back for a moment and think about the gadgets you use.  Do you identify with them, with other users?  Do you have friends you trade tips with, or forums you hang out on reguarly?  Does the subject come up in conversation when you whip out your DS or your iPhone?

Are you part of any Gadgetribes?

I think what we witness with Gadgetribes is identification with technology that's always been there, but that is far more widespread due to increased use of technology, and deeper due to the power that new technologies bring us.  This use, this depth of power, makes Gadgets unavoidable and desirable for us.  Humanity's social nature of course – and our need to share experience – means we form tribes around our gadgets.

For progeeks, the Gadgetribe phenomena is important:

  • It means that, professionally, if we can identify with others who are part of the same Gadgetribe, we can more easily establish rapport.
  • Being aware of Gadgetribe identification can tell us when we're tuning out others due to their being part of another tribe.
  • Understanding that deep identification can help us understand the loyalty and identification we want products we work on to have.
  • It represents the continuation of the classic identification with technology we've seen in the days of car enthusiasts and the like – but we need to realize its power and depth.
  • We can better understand conflicts and identification that people may have over seemingly trivial matters.

Keep an eye out for Gadgetribes, and you'll see them.

Once you see them, you can ask what it means for you as a progeek.

– Steven Savage