Monday, 8 December 2008

The Apple Cult: Anything Behind the Curtain?

I've long maintained that Apple Computer, and its hygiene-challenged motley crew of devotees are something of a religion. Admittedly, it's a tongue-in-cheek point, but as time goes by, the position of tongue and cheek has become somewhat less firm.

I can recall the first time I went into an Apple Store that had appeared on University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto, California. It was truly like walking into some sort of Silicon Valley re-imagination of St Peter's Basilica.

There were the glassy-eyed True Believers, assured in their faith that They. Had. Arrived.

There were the icons wherever you looked around.

There were slogans that, if they were in Latin, could be set to music and pass for Gregorian Chants.

There were the religious relics of Lisas and Macintosh SEs and Quadras that had gone before.

And of course, at the centre, Apple's own Pope, if not Deity himself, Steve Jobs, risen from the corporate dead. Jesus Christ in a black turtleneck and ill-fitting jeans, if you will. Of course, he took several years, and not three days, to return from the grave, but Silicon Valley can be forgiven if it moves more slowly than the Lord himself.

Apple IS a sort of cult, and if you doubt it, pay a visit to the local Apple Store near you. But if you need further proof, simply check the reaction to today's news that (apparently) Wal-Mart has struck a deal to sell i-Phones:


Peruse the comments and look at the fury of the Macnostics, half of whom rage about the selling out to the devil of Bentonville, and half of whom of course, worship the brilliance of Jobs, tricking the devil into selling antiquated, knock-down versions to the rubes who have not been baptised into the cult.

I wonder if the people in the Cult of Apple realise that the marketing folks in Cupertino are slicker than any team of bishops, and that their devotion to the Apple Brand has become a quasi-religion?

Steve Jobs may in fact be a genius - it's been said that the greatest feat the devil ever pulled off was convincing men that he did not exist. Jobs has done, perhaps, one better, by convincing shallow, attention-starved nerds that nirvana exists in cheap gizmos manufactured in China that can play games AND function as phones. And get them to pay a couple of hundred bucks that they don't have for the privilege.


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