10 Epic Tech Battles Fought on The Internet

Note: This post was first published on the 6th August, 2013.

The Internet is the single most liberating force today where knowledge spread and ideas flourish. Such freedom, however, comes with a price. While there are practically no boundaries when one is online, the same power is granted to the 2 billion connected people as well. It only means that you will likely meet opposing views that could even be beyond your comprehension.

There are bound to be opinions that divide netizens, as evident from the numerous heated debates on forums, social networking sites, and many other online channels. Aside from politics, technology-related arguments are commonly thrown about on the Web these days.

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Here is a summary of 10 of the biggest tech battles you will find on the Internet:

1. Windows vs. Mac

Are you a Mac person or a Windows PC person? This has been one of the biggest questions plaguing computer buyers since the first Macintosh (1984) launch and Windows PC (1985) in the mid-80s. Choosing one system over another says something about how you believe the computer experience ought to be.

It speaks volume about your preferences, attitudes and values as a person. Hunch.com had collected and analysed data from 700,000 computer users and found some amazing differences between these two groups.

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What Makes A Mac User?

Generally speaking, Mac’s angle has always been about design, originality and breaking away from the norms. The legendary ‘1984‘ Macintosh TV ad and the many unorthodox informal keynote address by its founder – in his trademark black turtleneck and jeans, no less – bear testimony to Apple‘s conviction to such ideology.

It was also Macintosh that first broke away from the old command-line interface in personal computers, winning users over with the more intuitive mouse and graphical user interface (GUI) which we all use today. Watching Apple fans pay premium for their products has never sat well with opinionated Apple haters, even when the wallet that is being emptied out, isn’t theirs to begin with.

Fatal Attraction

Windows has always had the majority of the market share and was never an underdog like Mac. This also means that most software (as well as viruses) are made for Windows. It will pose some compatibility issues if one were to use a less-purchased system like Mac to link up with most other users who use Windows as well.

For this reason, people see Windows as the default choice when purchasing a computer since it will be easier to work with people who utilize the same system. A Windows person sticks to practicality and is more concerned about the features a system offers rather than the design or ‘feel’ of a personal computer.

2. Facebook Gamers vs. Non-Gamers

Ah, this is one common rift I see between Facebook users who play games and those who don’t. A status update from one of my friends on Facebook will go along the line of ‘stop sending me game requests and I would know exactly how he or she feels.

No, You’re Not A Gamer

I, for one don’t play games on Facebook, and I know how annoying it can get to receive a notification on my smartphone or my desktop from a friend requesting for help in ‘bubbles’ and farms and candy-crushing. And it is assuring to know that I’m not alone.

Pages are set up on Facebook with titles such as ‘Stop sending me game requests’, people desperately seeking help on forums to ‘block stupid game requests’ and tons and tons of YouTube tutorial videos are posted about the same thing.

Facebook gamers aren’t to be completely blamed for this though, because the ‘select all’ checkbox is so conveniently ticked for you. If anything, it’s the undesirable side effect of joining a social networking site. It does raise a pertinent question of privacy preferences for users: should a social network be allowed to interfere with user’s privacy by means of notifications?

In the worst-case scenario, all such features drive a wedge between people who play games and people who don’t. It may not fall into a factional situation like iOS vs. Android users, but it irritates the other party. If you’re one of those ‘hardcore’ Facebook gamers, be sure to pick out friends (and only send requests to) whom are already playing the game!

3. E-books vs. Printed Books

When it comes to books, many avid readers would argue that the experience of holding a physical, printed book in their hands, turning the pages and reading from the paper is vastly different (and much more satisfying) from that of reading an e-book.

Book lovers declare that there is something special about touching or smelling the paper and hearing the sounds when one flips through the pages of a fresh book. In comparison, e-book readers are met with electronics’ cold, unfeeling, metallic (sometimes plastic) surface.

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Still, e-book readers do have their list of perks. The idea of walking down the street with an entire library of your favorite books stored in your electronic devices is far more attractive than the thought of exposing their printed version to wear and tear in an open bookshelf.

Purchasing and downloading e-books can be done with clicks and taps, without the need for a trip to the bookstore or library or the suspense of having to wait for them to be delivered into your hands.

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Competition or Substitution?

Back when emails and instant messaging came to be, they were thought to be the eventual substitution to face-to-face or telephone conversations. Similarly, they were also deemed inferior to the more traditional modes of communication, said to invoke deeper levels of communication.

These debates began in the 1990s and two decades have gone by. Today, most people seem to believe that emailing and messaging should serve mostly as a collateral (second-best) tool for communication. Does this spell a future that books will lead to, or will printed books reign supreme for more generations to come?

4. Android OS vs. iOS

More than 90% of smartphones in the U.S. use either Android or iOS as their mobile operating system right now. The two ‘tribes’ are also most likely to wage a shouting war in the comments section regardless of time, place or topic of interest.

Different Pastures, Different Shades Of Green

On the one side, Android users assert that iOS supporters are just hardcore Apple fans who often disregard the quality of their products – a mindset resembling sheep that follow their shepherd blindly. On the other, iOS users defended their ground by praising the more intuitive and user-friendly interface of iOS.

They swear by the stability of the iOS platform and slams Android devices for ‘crashing’ more frequently than iPhones. The two tech tribes existed within the smartphone industry because both iOS and Android OS cater to distinctive groups of users with different personalities.

It can be seen that supporters of iOS value the user-friendliness of the interface, demonstrating their preference for predictability and familiarity, and thus favors the product that gives them that sense of security. The fact that Apple users often stick to Apple products and are less likely to switch to other brands only proves the point further.

Android users, on the contrary, often chastise Apple users for their blind faith, revealing that people who prefer Android hold practicality in high regard and thus exercise more objectivity when it comes to choosing technology. This infographic shows that Android and iOS users are indeed substantially different from each other.

5. Xbox vs. PlayStation

As a proud owner of an Xbox 360 console, some of my friends who own the PlayStation 3 love to make comments and comparisons between our consoles. Basically those comments revolve around how I have to pay for online multiplayer services while they get to play games online for free, or about how they have exclusive games like Uncharted and Metal Gear Solid series while I don’t.

Blast From The Past

The funny thing, before this, I had a PlayStation 2 instead of an Xbox, and a similar thing occurred to me where Xbox owners would brag about how they have one of the top-selling games, Halo and spoke to me in jest about any features they find superior in their Xbox. This also happened when I had my first video game console, the long-extinct Sega Saturn, which was then badly lambasted by my fellow PlayStation 1 friends!

Honestly speaking, video game consoles have varying technical specifications that probably determine how successful they are in the industry. Regarding comparisons, people normally pit similar consoles that belong to the same generation against each other because this makes for a fair competition.

Bigger Battles

Notice however that the battle is especially intense between Microsoft Xbox 360 and PS3 and not with Nintendo Wii, even though all are from the same generation. Why is this so? My take on this is that Wii, with its relatively lower tech specs, is a very different console altogether because it focuses more on gameplay and playability (e.g., Wii remote motion controllers) than simply visuals or performance.

In other words, Xbox and PlayStation are comparable because they are pretty much on the same level, and this is precisely why fans of both consoles love to jab at each other on the Internet.

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But guess what? If one is to compare and contrast the two consoles holistically, the number and magnitude of the similarities definitely outshine all the little differences each have. It’s more like a draw between the two.

6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare vs. Battlefield series

As far as I could remember, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007) made a great leap forward in the visual realism aspect of first-person war shooters. Due to the realistic graphics and physics of the game, the awesome plotline, voice acting and multiplayer mode, it was (and still is) one of the best games in its genre. Unsurprisingly, the well-received game led to a sequel, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009) which again achieved abundant success.

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Proliferation Of War Games

Soon after, several other competing titles such as the rebooted Medal of Honor (2010) and Battlefield 3 (2011) which feature similar lifelike visuals and physics followed suit. Sadly, the Medal of Honor series eventually fell out of favor with players after its sequel, Medal of Honor: Warfighter (2012) received pretty negative reviews.

The latest fight was just between Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011) and Battlefield 3 (2011). Understandably, with both games receiving a high average review score of 9 out of 10 from major games review sites, the competition is sure as hell, tight. Generally speaking, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series have been praised for its high frame rate and fun multiplayer while Battlefield 3’s lighting and graphics are practically unrivalled.

Lock And Loaded

Go to any website, forum or YouTube page featuring articles, topics or videos about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series or Battlefield 3 and its upcoming sequels and you’re certain to see some pretty nasty comments from fans of either camp. They thrash fans from the other faction (i.e. their mortal enemies) who dare bad-mouth their favorite game, yet no fan could resist declaring how the next sequel of their series is going to kick the other side’s ass.

In a scenario when it’s really hard to determine a winner, people get even more motivated and united to step up and taunt their opponents, partially to convince themselves that they’ll win the battle. If you think about it, such phenomena are not unlike in warfare where it is inevitable to hate your enemies. It just happens to be so that these two intensive shooters series present players with realistic warlike scenarios.

It’s not too far-fetched to think that this could possibly explain why fans from each side are getting worked up over whether Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4 or Battlefield 4 will come out victorious. The contempt for the enemies of this ‘war’ seems a little too apparent to ignore on the Internet.

7. Facebook vs. Google+

Once upon a time, Friendster was the default choice for online social networking. That was before MySpace took over as the favorite between 2007 and 2008. Then Facebook came, saw and conquered the industry. The throne has remained in Facebook’s house even till today with subjects over 51% of the entire Internet population (for Q1, 2013). There just doesn’t seem to be any sign of it being usurped by other existing social networks.

Trailing behind by a far 26% is Google+, automatically earning it the label of ‘underdog’ – and we all love to root for the underdog, don’t we? Fans of Google+ seem battle-ready to fight Facebook head on. Its rapid rise to second place in power and popularity at a global scale in just over a year and a half is no mean feat, serving as a morale booster for fans. After all, the greater the number of people using Google+, the stronger and more powerful the network is.

With a quarter of the Internet population signed up, fans believe they are set to outshine Facebook (and all its privacy issues) in online social networking. Intense combat is already taking place; it’s David and Goliath all over again. Who will win? Time will tell.

8. Internet Explorer vs. the Rest

IE triumphed against Netscape Navigator during the first browser war in the late 90’s. This was before we were bombarded with a list of alternative browsers to adopt. Most of us by now have developed our personal preferences when we surf the Net: more customizability with plug-ins, better surfing security, tabbed browsing, speedy load times, reopening of closed tabs and more.

All these unique demands led to the development of new and alternative browsers such as Safari (2003), Mozilla Firefox (2004) and Google Chrome (2008). The struggle eventually becomes that of IE versus all the alternative browsers.

StatCounter showed that IE eventually clung on to less than 50% market share for the first time in 2010. In the following year, Microsoft released the 9th version of IE and it fought back with its HTML5 support and enhanced detection and prevention against malwares and malicious sites. However, it was a little too late.

As a whole, alternative web browsers have been pulling the crowd away from IE since they came into the radar. The fierce pursuit to gain a competitive edge over their opponents helped boost the standards for all Internet browsers. The battle between fans of IE and fans of other browsers is thus over the difference in mindset: whether to use the ‘standard’ browser that seems much more convenient and universal, or the ‘non-standard’ ones which often offer innovative features that cater to specific surfing needs.

9. PC Gaming vs. Console Gaming

The video gaming industry has much evolved is the past couple of decades and along with it came the inevitable categorization of gamers. Today, there are different types of gamers ranging from casual, mid-core gamers to hardcore gamers and distinct breakdowns even exist within them.

One significant divide pertains to the mode of playing games: through PC or through game consoles. Mid-core and hard-core gamers are better able to relate to the separation because the (more) complex games they play tend to result in different experiences and outcomes, depending on whether they play on PC or on consoles.

Device-Catered Experience

Needless to say, the keyboard and mouse for PCs allow for more complex control mappings for games and hence afford for more functions. The problems with console controllers are that their layout only comprises of directional buttons, analog sticks and probably less than ten buttons on it.

It makes for more simplistic controls which PC gamers tend to shun while console gamers fend that argument off by asserting that they make for intuitive control and deliver enhanced playability. Nevertheless, the fact is that some game genres are exclusive for PCs because the controls aren’t suitable for consoles.

You just seldom see games like Sim City (city-building) or Total War (strategy) series on consoles. Fans of first-person shooters are also more likely to be PC gamers because these shooters work better with mouse than an analogue control.

Playing Like A Boss

Apart than that, there’s also the contention over the practicality of PC’s ability to upgrade hardware and augment the visual qualities or frame-rates of the games over time. This may be the ultimatum for supporters of PC gaming but some console gamers prefers to avoid the hassle of periodically upgrading hardware to keep up with game requirements.

After all, dedicated gaming consoles are made for the sake of convenience and stability. It is still hard to argue against the luxury of a widescreen TV and a comfortable couch, made possible by console gaming.

10. Steve Jobs and Apple: Fans vs. Haters

As the man behind one of the most, if not the most innovative and influential IT brand in history, there’s hardly anyone in the developed world who hasn’t heard of the late Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011). The creator of Macintosh computer, iMac and iPhone may have already left us, but his reputation and legacy is likely to linger for a long time.

Most people would probably agree that his ideas have revolutionized the computer and music industry and for this, he has indeed earned the respect and admiration of many. Still, the undeniable truth about fame is that as one gets more popular and well-liked, the number of haters he has increases exponentially at the same time.

No Grey Area

Steve Jobs appears to be one of those icons that certain people could only love or hate. On the one hand you have cult-like Apple fandom where devotees adore their dear leader and his latest creations in blind faith, purchasing products after products without in-depth practical consideration of the tech specs or features.

On the other, you see Apple haters challenging the supposed superiority of Apple products and ridiculing naive fan-boys and fan-girls who are seemingly exploited by Steve Job and Apple’s shrewd marketing strategies. Although worlds apart these two groups may seem, but in actuality, they’re more similar than one would’ve imagined – both are extreme with their own beliefs, intolerant to any other views and tend to overreact to criticisms and rebuttals from the opposing party.

Fence Sitters

The only people that are distinct from them may very well be those who are neutral with their stand. They’re the objective and practical ones who don’t simply subscribe or unsubscribe to a particular brand without first evaluating a product’s overall quality . Brands are after all created and maintained by the marketing wizards and advertisements play with our emotions. If there’s one thing that history has shown us, emotions do get in the way of sound judgement.

Well, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. It really has a lot to do with tolerating another person’s ideas and thoughts, and respecting opinions which differ from ours.