I am not an Apple fanboy. However, I use Apple products daily. Infact, on an average day I spend 5 hours in front of a Macbook Pro. I have a TimeCapsule, iMac, iPad and spend considerable time each week helping Mac users with problems. I use Windows 7 and 8 for most of my work day. My professional role, being an IT Administrator, also involves part of the workday working on Server 2008 R2, 2012, and Linux. I have installed various Mac Operating Systems (OS) from scratch and delved deep into troubleshooting and configuration. I am currently working on some Linux Certifications which involve some Unix material, which is what Mac OS is based on. I am currently an Apple Certified Associate and am working towards becoming an Apple Certified Support Professional. It is pretty safe to say I know a lot more about Macs than the average Mac user.
For the purposes of discussion, I will be controversial here, and hopefully generate some interesting discussion. I hope the conversations as a result of this post will be intellectually stimulating, rather than people feeling that I am attacking them personally. I generally like to be technology agnostic, which may explain the reasons behind my opinions. Anyway, lets jump into the fire …
Broadly speaking Apple is a lot like a cult or religion. Like most cults/religions it was started effectively by one man, Steve Jobs. Steve is worshiped by his followers. Widely described visionary, charismatic, in fact, those close to him described his charisma as a “reality distortion field”. When Steve died, it was front page news everywhere. He was literally mourned by millions who had never met him or knew much about him personally.
Currently, Apple is the largest company in the world in terms of net worth. It is not the largest donor to charities, employee, or products by a longshot. However, it is very very profitable. Hubbard, who started the Church of Scientology famously wrote, “if you want to get rich, start a religion.” Steve had a keen financial mind, Forbes estimated his net wealth at $8.3 billion in 2010, making him the 42nd-wealthiest American.
Incident 1: CEO Dr Barry Fruitcake
A month ago an ex CEO of my place of employment (person who has a PhD and is a head of department of Education at a University/College) visited us to give us some pearls of wisdom. After sermonizing on perseverance, critical thinking, good practice and steadfastness, he came to me totting a Macbook Pro and wanted to get on our wireless network. Our workplace is primarily Windows/Dell based and in our staffroom surrounded by people working away on their Dell computers, exclaimed to our current CEO, myself and those in earshot with a slight mocking tone “Now, here’s a real computer.” while taking it out and asking me for the wireless password.
There was a bit of silence, which I broke by telling him the password and also mentioned that he had to change proxy settings to be able to get on our wireless network. The best way was to create a new network location so that next time he came to our workplace, all he had to do was change locations. I could see his eyes glaze over. I asked him if he knew how to make the changes, or wanted me to do it. He had no idea what I was talking about. So I showed him how to configure by create network locations and put in proxy settings and store password. When I completed setting his computer up, he mentioned, “It is good to have IT support”
When Dr Barry Fruitcake (not his real name) exclaimed that he possessed a “real computer” compared to us, I don’t think it’s a stretch to feel that he was belittling us. It is almost a universal belief amongst Mac users that they have a superior product compared to others and are very quick to point that out. Many do not realize that for most of us, our non Mac devices completely suite our purposes. Personally, I could never bring myself to use a netbook. I find them cumbersome, but there are millions of people for whom it does exactly what they purchased it for. It would be disrespectful for me to disparage them, because of what I use and my opinions. However, Mac fanboys have no qualms disrespecting others for their choice in technology.
Mac fanboys who are reading this would probably say here, well, it’s not disrespecting, but pointing out their new found experience with ease of use and overall superior experience. If you love something so much, you can’t stop taking about it. Let your light shine! Hide it under the bush, no, no! So similar to how religions/cult members function. Apple a cult? Cults proselytize. Apple fanboys proselytize. Apple being the forbidden fruit. Just an eerie coincidence? Surely, I am going fruit…cake, or perhaps not. The long lines of people camping overnight or longer when new i-products are released and the behavior of the community in general is characteristic of the makings of a cult, “…with fanaticism that comes close to religious furor.”
I am sure Dr Fruitcake It would consider it extremely rude if people started disparaging others because of their choice in clothes, models of cars they drove, etc. How would one feel if someone driving a Porsche spoke down to someone driving a standard family Ford or Toyota and say, “Now here’s a real car!” Or someone wearing designer label clothes saying similarly to someone who purchases clothes from The Warehouse, because that is all they can afford. [Note, I am not likening a Mac to a Mercedes, in my experience, its often its often a Chinese import, dressed as a Mercedes so to speak].
Experience 2. “You are a player!” said Apple Fangirl to me
Four of us were sitting around a table, two colleagues with their iPhones (Sally, her not real name) and one with an iPad (Tom, his not real name) and another who dearly would like to own an iPhone (Mary, not her real name). The discussion was about how great Mac products are and how dumb our workplace is for not having Mac products as mainstream and how at Tom’s workplace they were now exclusively Mac and how “magical” things were, and how they had such great “ease of use.”
At the end of their discussion, I smiled and mentioned, “I hope you guys noticed, I said nothing, while you were talking.” to which Tom very politely commented that if I personally used Mac products, I would know what they were talking about, to which I mentioned that I own and use daily the latest iPAD, iPhone, timecapsule, iMac, Macbook Pro [which I am currently using to type this blog], I am a power Mac user. Also at the same time, I use Linux, Windows 7 for various tasks.
To which Sally exclaimed, “You are a real player” several times while being bewildered at how I was not using just the Mac ecosystem. Sally is a single 25 year old female in real life. A “player” for her would be one who engages in immoral activities who knowing her character, would avoid. Is stepping outside the Mac fold immoral?
A year earlier, a CEO of a similar organization such as ours sent an email with a moral twist to it. It had a particular mention about computing devices and penned that he found interesting that our organization had, “not seen the light” and was still using Windows machines. I was gobsmacked that someone would make the allegory of light versus dark. The email had nothing to do with budgetary, features, etc as reasons, but it was entirely, a “light” versus dark, using one platform versus another as a moralistic issue and was adamant not let any “evil” Microsoft product anywhere “near” their hardware.
I wrote a lengthy and polite email back to him (without response) about it not being a “light versus dark” issue which entails ethics, however, at our workplace, we support all devices, but choose to purchase the most cost effective, does the job, which currently happens to be Windows computers being almost 3x cheaper over a 4 year period.
Speaking of money, I find it absolutely amazing that a company with only around a dozen key products is the the world’s most valuable company. This is because of the profit margins widely described as “unthinkably high” currently 30% after tax. The current flagship iPhone 5 estimated cost to manufacturer is approx NZ$300 and will sell for over NZ$1200, and this is only with standard warranty. Add over $100 for extended warranty. Daylight robbery, if you ask me.
Apple employees when dealing with potential customers who comment on the high price of the product are trained to highlight that despite the price, they “found value” in the product in this and that area. Again, exactly, like religions and cults where you part with cash for certain value. How Apple employees interact with customers is extremely interesting. According to media leaks of Apple workers official training, they are not allowed to use the word “unfortunately” and are supposed to use “as it turns out.”
Say if there is a software/hardware glitch, they are also not allowed to use “bug”, “bomb” or “hang” instead the software/hardware “unexpectedly quit, unexpectedly stopped responding, or unexpectedly stopped responding.” There are no “bugs” or “problems” but they are “conditions, issues & situations.” They nurture the belief amongst fanboys that Mac products are virus proof.
The way Apple as a company pursues its competitors is very frightening. It is widely reported that if Microsoft or any of the tech pioneers behaved like Apple, the technology landscape would be horrible because customer choice and innovation would be limited. While Microsoft and many tech pioneering companies generally license their patents, Apple often sues. They also do not sue directly, but employ cunning techniques. The major battle right now is with Andriod (owned by Google). Instead of picking a fight with Google, they snipe its partners, Samsung for instance. Some things which Apple is granted patents for, for example the slide to unlock, in my opinion is plain wrong. Ancient Egyptians has slide to unlock doors.
In the current litigation between Apple and Samsung, Apple claimed that people were confused that Samsung products were not Apple as evidenced by people returning Samsung products for that very reason. This says a lot about potential Apple customers, you really have to be dumb to have purchased a Samsung/Andriod product and thought it Apple. Apple actually plays on this “dumbness” as evidenced by the recent Apple adverts which were pulled because of complaints from some Mac users that it portrayed Mac customers as dumb, inept and foolish.
I am sure I will get some flack for this article. After all, people who belong to a cult often consider the outside world to be evil and people who attack their beliefs as blasphemers. Some very close friends and family members of mine are Mac devotees. For them, Macs work well and I do think it is far fetched to call them cult members. They are using products at a price that best suits them and most of the time do not behave like indoctrinated cult members.
I just hope that Peter does not blindly decide to go with certain brands, but develops some critical thinking. I hope he thinks about what drives a person from becoming a mere user of a product to a devoted disciple, because, after all, research indicates that people join cults and brands for the same reasons. I also hope Peter really understands who he is following. If he follows Jobs, here is what Wikipedia quotes Apple cofounder, Steve Wozniak as saying, “Steve didn’t ever code. He wasn’t an engineer and he didn’t do any original design…” Daniel Kottke, one of Apple’s earliest employees and a college friend of Jobs’, stated that “Between Woz and Jobs, Woz was the innovator, the inventor. Steve Jobs was the marketing person.”
In this thought provoking (must see) video Jobs mentions that they have no qualms about stealing great ideas from other companies. He is later quoted as saying that Andriod is a stolen product and he is going “thermonuclear” on it. The conclusion was that for Jobs, it’s ok for him to steal, but for no one to steal from him. He also credits Apple for “inventing” a multitouch device, however, around a year earlier somone else presented the same technology. Apple was not the inventor of that technology.
As a person, I have no time for Jobs. He is widely reported as using expletives, particularly F*** words when speaking his mind. He banned John Wiley publishing company from his retail stores as retribution for the book they published, i-Con Steve Jobs, a review of which states “Jobs was ruthless, manipulative, charismatic and utterly determined. He clashed with the firm’s other managers from the start. Still a hippie at heart, he had bad hygiene. He was not above lying or cheating anyone in a business deal, including Woz, whose relationship with Jobs soon collapsed. In his messy personal life, Jobs refused to acknowledge his baby daughter, Lisa, and let her grow up in poverty.”
Jobs was regarded as inconsiderate. He parked in disability carparks (angry people would coin [scratch] his car) and drove a Mercedes Benz without licence plates. The got away from having license plates by taking advantage of a Californian law which stipulates that one had 6 months to get a license plate if the car was new. So he bought himself a new Merc every 6 months.
On the other hand, Bill Gates is known for putting money to good use, in fact, he is going to give almost all of it away. He is responsible for saving thousands of lives through this charity work. He has also invested significantly in Education and various other non profit activities. Gates travels world wide trying to get rich people to donate money to charities. The man is a hero, but people in general have a low opinion of Microsoft products. Melinda (his wife) and him have stated that their children will only inherit a miniscule part of their wealth, stating in various interviews that they have to find their own way in life and that a large amount of money will not do them any good.
At an IT conference a Microsoft Exec mentioned that for every dollar Microsoft earns, other people (developers, integrators, etc) earn $3. I do not know what it is like with Apple, but I will not be surprised if it’s something like less than a dollar spent for each dollar Apple earns. Reasons why is that Apple sells directly to the public, owns its own retail and online stores. Whereas Microsoft until now had not had a direct retail presence. The few Microsoft retail stores are currently not doing well at all and have comparatively low margin. I think that it is better to support a smaller company, whose leadership inspires, supports local business and operates in an ethical manner. Microsoft does not tick all the boxes, but in my books ticks more boxes than Apple.
This blog post took way longer for me to write than normal. The reason is that people who I have a lot of time for may be upset by it. I want to categorically state that I have no problems at all with their choice of technology. I just wish they respect the choice of those outside their fold. I am classifying this post in a life skill category for Peter is so that hopefully one day he can critically analyze his behavior towards others and the choices he makes. Peter, pretty is often not worth the trouble. It will cost you more than you know. Martin Luther had a dream that his children would one day live in a nation where they would be not judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. My dream is that Peter will not be judged or judge others by the electronic devices they own, but by the content of their work.