Jimmy Kimmel demonstrates that the average person doesn't know smartphones that well

Bust out the haterade, dust off your iSheep macro keys, and wind up for some general hating of Apple fans, it's video time! Last night, on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the late night variety show took to the streets of Hollywood to ask people about the iPhone 5. The new iPhone isn't out yet, and your average Angelenos likely hasn't seen one yet, let alone read all of the news about the iPhone 5 (especially just the hours after it was announced, when this segment was filmed).

Seeing as this is Jimmy Kimmel, the show used the occasion as an opportunity to fool around and make the average person seem a fool. It's Kimmel's modus operandi, and there's nothing wrong with that. With the iPhone 5 still a week away, they instead whipped out an iPhone 4S and told unsuspecting people on the street that it was the iPhone 5. Apart from the taller screen and the beveled edges of the body, the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S look incredibly similar, enough so that it was sufficient to fool said unsuspecting persons on the street. The comments generally revolved around it seeming faster, thinner, and lighter - everything you'd expect in a new iPhone. Handed a device that looks like an iPhone, and told that it's the new iPhone 5, the people playing around with it saw what they expected to see.

It's a classic experiment. Microsoft did something similar with Windows Vista, briefly running an advertising campaign called the Mojave Experiment in July of 2008, where unsuspecting persons were given a demonstration of Windows Vista, but not told that it was Vista. At that point, Vista had been out for nearly a year and a half and though commercially successful was considered to be a generally poor software experience. Asked about there perceptions of Vista, participants in 'the Mojave Experiment' gave the OS an average rating of 4.4. When Vista was demonstrated to them as 'Mojave OS', rebranded but otherwise unchanged, but in a controlled environment with the implication that Mojave was a next generation operating system. Operating under the generally-true assumption that newer software is better software, the participants rated Mojave at an 8.5.

The same basic premise was at play in Kimmel's segment. People who wouldn't know any better are handed an iPhone and told it's the new iPhone 5, even if it's not. Unsurprisingly, the expect it to be faster, thinner, and lighter. Most people aren't going to be able to tell the speed difference in just a short while, paging around the app launcher and loading web pages (unless they're on different networks, in which case the AT&T HSPA iPhone will smoke Sprint and Verizon's 3G). Most people aren't going to be able to tell the relatively minute difference in thickness or weight, especially when a good chunk of those interviewed had their iPhones in a case.

And so, as the video made its rounds this morning, the fanboys came out in force. Not the iPhone fanboys, but fanboys that hate on the iPhone for being the iPhone. You know the ones, they complain about the walled garden, the glass hardware, how Apple 'invents' everything, and take an exceedingly disturbing amount of pleasure in leveling criticism at a product they're not going to buy. The call iPhone users 'iSheep' and 'iLemmings' and other stupid iNames. Why? I don't know, but I find it bizarre and disturbing that people feel and feel the need to express such vitriol over the phone choices of people they don't even know. Repeat after me: it's just a phone.

So today the video made the rounds. It landed on iMore's Android-loving sister site Android Central, with the title of "If you've seen one, you've seen the next one". Fair enough, as we said, there's not an obvious physical difference if you don't know any better. And on CrackBerry as "iSheep in Action". Really, Kevin? Really? I know that's playing to the home crowd, but the people in that video likely aren't the type that would qualify as 'iSheep', blindly following Apple into whatever Cupertinoian crevice they venture. The comments on both articles are even worse.

What would happen if you pulled aside a random person on the street, handed them a Samsung Galaxy S II running Android 2.3 Gingerbread and told them it was a Galaxy S III? Probably the same exact thing - it seems thinner, faster, and lighter than the old one. It's an expectations and knowledge game, one that the vast majority of people on this planet would fail.

The people that read this site, Android Central, CrackBerry, and really practically every tech site out there aren't the average person. We're interested in tech to the point that we want to know about what's coming up next and actively seek out information before it's public knowledge. We know the difference between the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 because we're actually interested in what the differences are, and wouldn't likely be fooled if you put an older phone in our hands and told us it was the new one. Same goes for Android users, Windows Phone fans, and every other technology segment where you can find fans of the product. The fans know it inside and out, but they're the minority to the overwhelming majority of users who wouldn't know the difference.

It's a phone. Nothing more, nothing less. It's an appliance, a tool to help us get more done throughout the day. Did we all hate on somebody for using a yellow legal pad to take notes instead of a college-ruled white notebook? No, I don't remember that. Just like I don't seem to remember people rudely and publicly criticizing a group of people just because they wear different shoes.

We all make choices about what we wear, where we go, who we talk to, what we buy, and what we do. Our choices are defined by who we are, not the other way around. Just because somebody chose to buy an iPhone and doesn't recognize the new iPhone they've never seen before doesn't make them an 'iSheep' anymore than somebody owning a Toyota Corolla, liking it, and not noticing when you show them a same-year Corolla and tell them it's a new car makes them a Toyotanite.

It's time to stop labeling people by the products they buy. It's time for the irrational, unwarranted, and frankly nonsensical hate between iPhone and BlackBerry and Android and Windows Phone to stop (and for webOS users to stop crying in the corner), just like the time has long past for Windows and Mac users to stop looking down their noses at each other. There are so many much more important and pressing issues in the world today that it's disappointing to see people taking the time out of their day to spew virulent hatred towards other over truly inconsequential purchasing decisions. They're just phones, it's time to recognize that and move on.

Also, watch the video. It's amusing.

Derek Kessler

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.