Friday, October 14, 2005

A worm in the Apple: iPod nation and the cult of cool

Also at Slate, media critic Jack Shafer points out that Apple -- as in: the Mac, the Cube, the iPod -- isn't quite everything it's cracked up to be. Or, rather, its much-ballyhooed products aren't:

I don't hate Apple. I don't even hate Apple-lovers. I do, however, possess deep odium for the legions of Apple polishers in the press corps who salute every shiny gadget the company parades through downtown Cupertino as if they were members of the Supreme Soviet viewing the latest ICBMs at the May Day parade...

The inordinate amount of attention paid to Apple's launches must be, in part, a function of the company's skill at throwing media events, stoking the rumor mills, and seducing the consuming masses. All this, plus the chatter-inducing creativity of Apple's ad campaigns, and its practice of putting its machines in pretty boxes make writing about Apple products more interesting than assessing the latest iterations of the ThinkPad or Microsoft Office.

Sure, Apple's a trend-setter, and its products look cool (and perhaps are cool), but Shafer points out that there's a good deal of effective manipulation behind the image that's been projected onto popular culture -- to the point where Apple loyalists have become a cult of their own and where everyone seems to have (or want) those white wires coming out of their ears.

Personally, I like (and use) Dell. Is there anything wrong with that?

Maybe I'm just not cool enough. Or maybe -- just maybe -- I haven't been manipulated into submission.

(I'll have to ask Apple loyalist and sometime Reaction contributor Vivek Krishnamurthy for a rebuttal. Feel free to provide your own.)

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  • Ahhhh that lovely word 'elitism'. Am I on a Harriet Miers post Michael....oh's about Apple. Oops, well o.k. then let me come out of the closet: I am pro-Miers and pro-Apple!

    Now what?

    Well, let's just do an Apple loyalist rebuttal for the time being, your Rishna partner is fast asleep... I have said enough about Miers. In any event , I don't really wish to upset my host, he still hasn't put me on his blogroll. And I am still back. LOL!

    Let me start off by saying, that I LOVE my Apple cinema screens and the laptop, as well as my iPod for which I have a specially annoying Swarovski crystal cover. I know about the 'cult' factor but don't really much care. I let my husband drool over their site on a daily basis and dream about the next product Steve Jobs is bringing out.

    I am self taught, and although I have designed my own website, having taught myself how to use HTML in a week, and seriously impressed some of my geeky friends (called such simply because they are familiar with the workings of a computer in general), I don't think I could have done it if it wasn't for the simplicity of a Mac. A Mac is great for someone like me who is a 'manual phobic'. You'll find most women are. Is that sexist? Oh good, I hope so. Anyway, never read one, never will read one. My husband reads them for recreation. I find that perverse. Give me a classic novel any day....

    They say: "Once you go Mac, you never go back"...or did I get my sayings mixed up? I think I just made that up.

    I am a visual person, as you know from my blog. And for me Apple has the sleekest sexiest line of any computer on the market. The cinema screens I have, look more like a sculptures on my desk, and the joy of listening to thousands of my favorite songs on my iPod when travelling is pure pleasure.

    Anyway, enough rambling, if Krishna doesn't wake up, I'll get my husband to do a proper rebuttal, using big words that no one will be able to understand.

    By Blogger Alexandra, at 3:43 PM  

  • Well, as a Mac-User myself, I love Macs. But as for other Apple products like the IPod, I'm not that interested. I mainly like the Mac operating system and the look of Mac computers, and I like the idea that Mac seems to have cornered the all-in-one computer market (e.g. imacs and emacs). I'm also excited about getting a Mac Mini when I have enough money, because I'd love to have a compact computer. But ancillary products do nto excite me that much.

    By Blogger Glaivester, at 8:09 PM  

  • Some people drive Fords, some drive Mercedes.

    After years of being a happy Mac user, I switched to a Wintel two years ago. A year later I switched back, and it was like being reborn.

    How you Winfolk put up with all that virus and spyware crap is beyond me. I kind of got used to it in my year in the wilderness, started taking it for granted. But when I came to my senses and ditched the clunky Toshiba laptop for a G4 Powerbook, I realized that, no, the internet did not become a much more dangerous place in my year on Windows, it was that damn unstable, unpredictable, buggy Windows OS all along.

    Adding to the blessing of returning to Mac was that I was on OSX for the first time. Wow, what a difference. Stable, elegant, and best of all, I could switch to, say, reading or writing email while some other program, such as printing a PDF, was chugging away in the background. On all previous Mac OSs, one was effectively prevented from doing something else when one program was hogging all the RAM (or whatever).

    Anyway, I prefer the Mercedes. If you have the budget for it, you'll never be sorry.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:51 AM  

  • Alexandra from allthingsbeautiful said I must weigh in on the Mac debate here. But then you guys have it down already. I wish Apple would advertise the stability and safety of OSX a lot more. As anonymous found out the hard way, Apple users really are impervious to all the attacks from the internet.

    But, Jack, as you are working for a PowerPC chip maker (I thought they're all made by IBM...), I am surprised to read you claim that the PowerPC chips run cooler. My understanding is, that this is in fact quite the opposite: PowerPC chips ran excessively hot as they got more powerful. A chief reason, why Apple couldn't deliver a PowerBook G5 - simply too hot and too power-hungry. Intel has much better specs in this department.

    But for those who are interested, the real reason why Apple switched is not really visible now - it lies in Intel's future product pipeline and its commitment to innovation on the front of processors and/or chips integrating amongst other features wirelss and video en- and decoding capabilities. Apple wants to make a computer that aims to facilitate every day mission-critical task. Task, that have nothing to do with 'operating' a computer. Want to edit your home video; just plugg and play. Want to migrate to Tivo 2.0; Apple will be there for you in the drawing room. Ultimately, the concept of learning your MS Word software to write a nicely designed letter is a thing of the past. Although just in its baby-shoes, 'Pages' is a good indicator where they're heading.

    Apple's evolution during the next 5 years will much more radical than during the past 15 years. The whole industry in fact, but Apple will be much more the trend setter than they'd ever been in the past right up to the introduction of the iPod video. Intel chips will facilitate the launch of a video tablet in wide-screen format; the idea, every member of the family will have one, consuming IP-TV, both mainstream programming as well as narrowcasting, utterly tailored to individual interests. Google and Co. will help facilitate sustainable business models allowing for small audiences to be profitable. Exciting times ahead for all...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:56 AM  

  • Three words, Stable, reliable, confortable.
    I'm a college student, I bought an ancient 300mgz G3 for 74 dollars, put more memory in it for $30, run Jaguar (purchased for $35) and an old 1997 copy of Office. Took me a day to learn how to use OSX, its has been running 45 days without a restart. No security worries, no dropping off the internet, no crashes, try doing that with 8 year old PC, I have a decent school computer for 150 dollars.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:09 PM  

  • Anon - that's great to hear OSX can run well on an old G3. I've got a Wall St. Powerbook that I was thinking about doing that with. So, it runs well on the G3, huh?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:11 PM  

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