by Thomas Wailgum

12 Types of Tech Zealots: How to Spot Them in the Wild

Mar 03, 2010
Data Center

Maybe you know Apple fanboys, but can you tell an Oracle high flyer from a disciple? An IBMer from an SAP enthusiast? Mix them up in a work or social setting and you could be conversation roadkill. Here's our highly unofficial guide.

Apple Fanboy

Probably the most well-known of the Tech Zealots, the Fanboy is not difficult to spot in his natural habitat: In a coffee shop, most commonly in the San Francisco Bay area, surrounded by a MacBook Air, an iPhone 3GS and maybe an iPod Nano or Touch. Don’t forget the mandatory black clothing and white earbuds. (The eager anticipation you see on his face is due to the impending arrival of the iPad.)

Microsoft Believer


Microsoft believers have been worshipping the leader of the other side of the Apple-Microsoft holy war (Bill Gates) for decades. Leaving Windows would be as unthinkable as leaving Las Vegas on a winning streak. Microsoft believers have their own interpretation of the history of software: how it’s been developed, marketed and sold during the past 30 or so years. That interpretation does not favor men who wear black mock-turtlenecks. Penguins also not so adorable.

Google Groupies


These can be tricky to spot: Stealthy Google adherents stay under the cover of “Don’t Be Evil” and are reluctant to flaunt their successes as much as those of the competition. But lurking behind the typical “Aw shucks” demeanor and glasses (see: CEO Eric Schmidt) is a smart and always-connected individual who prefers to do everything via the Web. Conversational giveaway: Loves creating new verbs from nouns.

Facebook Fanatic


It can be a 16-year-old high schooler, 42-year-old mom or 62-year-old retiree: The Facebook Fanatic has a case of virtual voyeurism, and has it bad. This person has no issue with Facebook privacy and security gaffes and hasn’t a care how Zuckerberg & Co. will monetize their personal information—”Just let me see the G.D. photos of that party I wasn’t invited to!!!!”

Facebook Bible: Everything You Need to Know About Facebook Disciple


Don’t ever—EVER—talk about on-premise, traditional software in the presence of a Disciple. Heresy!! (Stay clear of Oracle-related topics, too.) A true follower will usually have a copy of Benioff’s book on his bedside table. Also a dead giveaway: This is one of the few techies who is not referring to a Jedi or Skywalker when he speaks of the Force.

Oracle High Flyer


Their smug arrogance is matched only by their deference to Leader Lawrence J. Ellison. They will top you at anything—aerial acrobatics, facial hair, coding, golf, net worth calculations. Other telltale signs: Proclivities toward Asian art, high-seas yachting and hostile acquisitions.

Twitter Devotee


For these folks, there’s never been a random thought or self-aggrandizing quip not worth tweeting to the masses. They claim not to know or care much about their number of followers, but that is just a smoke screen; they know the exact number. They speak in their own ever-morphing language of abbreviation and #hashtags. What scares them more than anything else? The Fail Whale!

Twitter Bible: Everything You Need To Know About Twitter

RIM CrackBerry Addict


Like a cautious mother wildebeest watching over her young calves, the RIM devotee never takes his sights off his BlackBerry. (iPhones, Droids and the like are the pack of hyenas circling about.) In a business environment, CrackBerry addicts can typically be found heads down, persistently tapping in their laps, with no concern about how that might look. (It’s not rude. It’s called “being productive!”) Dinner conversation: Yesterday’s battery-life usage.

Get Your BlackBerry Black Belt with’s BlackBerry Bible: Everything You Need to Know About Your RIM Smartphone

IBM Follower


One of the oldest species in the high-tech ecosystem (species classification: Biggus Mainframi) who has continually adapted and changed his appearance with each succeeding decade and tech trend. He now wears a French blue dress shirt but sported plenty of ugly ties back in the day. One sign that will help you spot an IBM Follower: An understated combination of confidence and entitlement.

Cisco Gear Head


Hard-core IT engineering geekdom is what we’re talking about here. Cisco Gear Heads think plumbing has nothing to do with water and pipes have everything to do with bandwidth. Networking? It certainly ain’t about schmoozing with other people. The habitat they are most comfortable in: A humming data center, with lots of switches, routers and multicolored Ethernet cables. A special treat: An evening spent admiring ceiling after ceiling full of wireless routers.

SAP Advocate


Dignified. Restrained. Multilingual. This overall “quiet confidence,” on display here by three former SAP execs, best typifies an SAP Advocate. On occasion, he can easily be mistaken for an IBM Follower. You can spot the difference pretty easily: Ask him to pronounce “NetWeaver” or about popular restaurants in Walldorf. He’ll “get it.”

VMware Enthusiast

If it isn’t virtual, he doesn’t love it—whether it’s a desktop, a server or an online flirtation. The VMware enthusiast is often heavily certified, in acronyms that leave last decade’s Novell boys scratching their heads. He helped put the hype in hypervisor and is now completely conversant in The Cloud. His side job:


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