Over at TIME.com, my Technologizer column for this week is about the theory that people who buy Apple products act like cult members. As the theory would have it, they snap up Macs, iPhones, and iPads not because they’re good products, but because they’re mesmerized by Apple advertising and think that owning the company’s products makes them better human beings. Or something like that.
My take is that the theory was always silly–and that it’s particularly nonsensical in an age in which truly vast numbers of people are buying Apple products. The company’s customer base isn’t made up of like-minded fanatics; it consists of a large variety of people who buy Apple stuff for all sorts of reasons. But mostly, I hope and think, because they find it useful.
I didn’t expect the cult idea’s true believers to read my column, slap themselves in the forehead, and instantly cease believing that there’s something morally and/or mentally suspect about Apple fans. So I wasn’t surprised that the story attracted some comments that said things like this:
What a blundering article.
The fact is, when you go to buy a PC you have to take in many facts; ultimately make a personal choice for what works best. There is minimal, if any real choices to be made about how your want your Mac laptop/desktop/phone to be. They make products for people who can’t take the time to distinguish one laptop from another, other than new models being skinnier than the older ~ it is less about them being a ‘cult’ and more about people mindlessly praising a product they really know little to nothing about. Honestly, do you need to pay Apple’s prices for what you do on any given day with your laptop? (Well…maybe if it was a gaming rig.)
Android has a reputation for attracting geeks, i.e. ‘people who know what they are doing.’ If I fall into dislike with HTC’s product line, I can switch to Samsung or Motorola & keep my apps, songs, movies, books ~ they aren’t trapped in one rigid ecosystem. It’s no secret that the iPhone sold on simplicity & image, so you’ll excuse us if we’re tired of hearing waves of praise from the unknowing masses. And that’s no stereotype.
Okay, according to this commenter, it’s not so much that Apple users are a cult. But they are “unknowing masses” who are “mindlessly” praising a product they don’t understand.
I guess I have three primary problems with this stance:
1) I’m not an idiot! At least I don’t think I am. And when I’ve bought Apple products, it hasn’t been because I was unable to compare products and make a decision. In fact, in every case, I have compared products–such as multiple laptops, including both Windows PCs and Macs–and chosen the Apple product.
(Sometimes, by the way, I consider the Apple product and buy something else instead.)
2) 37 million people bought iPhones in the last quarter of 2011 alone. They’re all morons? None of them know anything about computers?
3) Really, any theory that involves vast numbers of people all buying any one product for the identical reason is inherently specious. Human beings don’t work that way. There are dozens of reasons to buy Apple products–and dozens of reasons to not buy them–and different people make different decisions based on a variety of factors.
It all seems to boil down to this: Apple products don’t appeal to me, and that means that if they appeal to you, you’re an idiot.
Surely I’m not the only one who finds this attitude not just wrongheaded but sad?