Cult of Apple - Part 1 | The Thinking Blog ~ Knowledge Grows When Shared
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22 February 2007

Cult of Apple - Part 1

Before all the Apple fanatics jump on me, I want to make one thing clear. I don't hate Apple. In fact, I support their lead to a design conscious consumer electronics market. Though design doesn't always mean simple, like Albert Einstein once said "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler", I will criticize Apple products later. I felt the need to write this article because I'm a bit concerned about Apple fans' behavior. Where does the fierce loyalty come from?

It all began so humbly. Most people with a passing knowledge of the history of the personal computer are aware that Apple founder Steve Jobs is famous for his "reality distortion field": his ability not only to deny objective fact but also to convince anyone within his reach that black equals white and yes is no. But how many have heard this advice on how to deal with Jobsian rhetoric?

One beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. Evangelism marketing is an advanced form of word of mouth marketing (WOMM) in which companies develop customers who believe so strongly in a particular product or service that they freely try to convince others to buy and use it. The customers become voluntary advocates, actively spreading the word on behalf of the company. Evangelism literally comes from the three words of 'bringing good news' and the marketing term justly draws from the religious sense, as consumers are literally driven by their beliefs in a product or service, which they preach in an attempt to convert others.

Signal without noise. Guy Kawasaki, an ex-Apple-employee, is credited as being one of the first to use evangelistic methods to promote a computer brand, focusing on creating passionate user-advocates for the Apple brand. Apple formerly had a "Why Mac?" evangelist websites. The page no longer exists, but the company currently has a Get a Mac campaign page, which gives numerous reasons why PC users should switch to Macs. Kawasaki has recently switched from using Macs to using Linux, because he's disappointed in the route that Apple has taken. This could be interpreted, that Apple has become a just another regular technology-company and perhaps it was all lust from the start.

Think Differently. First of, Steve Jobs is charging enough for his products, at least he should have the decency to buy a dictionary! "Think Different" is not grammatically correct. Second, stop making fun of your competitors. In an article for Slate magazine, Seth Stevenson criticized the campaign as being too "mean spirited," suggesting that, "...isn't smug superiority (no matter how affable and casually dressed) a bit off-putting as a brand strategy?". A psychologist, Kelton Rhoads (Ph.D), made an 18-page analysis [PDF] which examines influence tactics in Apple's carefully-worded and well-executed comparative campaign. It also includes references to several criticisms made regarding the veracity of this campaign.

Argumentum in terrorem. An appeal to fear (also called argumentum ad metam or argumentum in terrorem) is a logical fallacy in which a person attempts to create support for her or his idea by increasing fear and prejudice toward a competitor. In the 'Viruses' commercial, Mac claims none of the viruses for PCs affect him, but macro viruses do not rely on the operating system but instead individual pieces of software, thus letting them work on either Macs or PCs with the affected software. There are spyware known to attack any operating system with a compatible browser. Moreover, Chris Szurgot, developer of Visual Studio 2005, thinks of the 'Viruses' commercial as FUD. It is also not the first time Apple engaged in a marketing strategy of disseminating negative (and vague) information on a competitor's product. This Apple commercial, called "Lemmings", was aired during the 1985 Super Bowl, the year after the famous "1984" commercial was aired.

What is a cult? According to Cult Information Center in London, every cult can be defined as a group having all of the following five characteristics:

1. It uses psychological coercion to recruit, indoctrinate and retain its members
2. It forms an elitist totalitarian society.
3. Its founder leader is self-appointed, dogmatic, messianic, not accountable and has charisma.
4. It believes 'the end justifies the means' in order to solicit funds recruit people.
5. Its wealth does not benefit its members or society.

Who do cults recruit? Cults want people who are:

  • Intelligent.
  • Idealistic.
  • Well educated.
  • Economically advantaged.
  • Intellectually or Spiritually curious.
  • Any age.

Is Apple a cult? If that question wasn't answered from what I wrote above, then here is a quote from Jeannie Mills, ex-member of The People's Temple, later found murdered.

"When you meet the friendliest people you have ever known, who introduce you to the most loving group of people you've ever encountered, and you find the leader to be the most inspired, caring, compassionate and understanding person you've ever met, and then you learn the cause of the group is something you never dared hope could be accomplished, and all of this sounds too good to be true-it probably is too good to be true! Don't give up your education, your hopes and ambitions to follow a rainbow."

To be continued..

Any constructive comments welcome.

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