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back to article Apple as a religion: How the iPhone became divine

Apple lovers vs. Apple haters is a common theme on the tech forums. Some think that there is a consumer psychology dynamic at play, that turns us into Brand Evangelists or Brand Talibans. Two American academics, admittedly new media academics, Heidi Campbell and Antonio La Pastina, take a different tack in comparing Apple to …

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Jobs Halo

do Mac user values exist

Don't know about values, but they certainly have faith.

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Dead Vulture

Yep

the same faith we all have in a trusted provider of goods and or services. Apple are a religion exactly as much as SAP, Nike, BMW or Mars are.

Essentially, this article is meta-bullshit - bullshit about bullshit.

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It's not the product - it's the people who buy it

Consider the sort of person who, in your opinion, buys Apple products. Would you like others to think you were like them? If your view of the products were positive and you viewed the sort of people who owned them in a positive way, you're more likely to buy that same stuff than if your impressions were negative.

It doesn't matter what the product is: everything ever made has good features and poor ones. Which ones take precedence in your mind has nothing to do with the features themselves, but is about the sort of people who extol or criticise they. Primarily the early adopters and reviewers. We see a certain "type" of individual taking up polarised views about a product, a company or a political opinion and we either wish to associate or distance ourselves - not from the product but from those PEOPLE.

In that respect it's not like religion, which has no rational explanation and is universally recognised to be about faith. However, religion is also about social norms and social pressures. Factors that don't come into play with Apple, or IBM or other I.T. products where we can see lists of features and testable properties that we can make choices about - even though we don't.

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Well, yes "BMW drvier" syndrome

There have been many products, used to define their owners, and Apple products seem to be amongst them. These cultural shorthands aren't always immortal, however. If you think about it, much of the violent rage hurled at the iPhone owers, on here, is actually very similar to the kind of acidic hatred that some folks used to direct towards people who owned *any* kind of mobile phone, back in the 1980s.

That whole Thatcher-era alternative comedy stuff - the Ben Elton monologues - was about identifying some group of people, in terms of what they owned, or bought, and then hating them, for twenty minutes at a time, at a rate of not-less-than 70 words a minute, while pacing backwards and forwards in an expensively-badly-fitting jacket.

The other day, I heard Jack Dee make a snarky comment about "BMW drivers", and while I laughed (I always found Jack more original than Ben), I have to say that the remark sounded... archaic. There was almost something nostalgic about it.

Now, I don't (and probably never) will own a BMW (I'm a Nissan Micra man: define what that says about me), but I must say, I find it unremarkable that people own them. I live in a Northumbrian ex-colliery village. My next door neighbour is the son of a pitman. He runs a scaffolding firm: he owns a BMW. It's unremarkable.

Furthermore, I've seen more than a few people with iPhones in my local pub (not hair-flicking media types - lorry drivers, engineers - it's that sort of a pub). They're both things I will probably never own, but I find it unremarkable that people own them (remarkable, that we are being asked to remark upon it).

Both opposing armies in this debate, seem to be wanting to cling to some former age: Mods and Rockers. Owning Apple products may have been some exclusive club, once, and maybe it was a club worth hating - just as pitmen hated the people in the BMWs.

But times move on, and so do most people. Owning Apple stuff is now a decidedly mainstream activity, and I know I'd far rather spend time talking to the lass who was showing me pictures of her dogs, on her iPhone, in the pub, the other evening, than many of the people on here - whom, it seems, would have me hate her for... for what, exactly? Not wearing a veil? Or is that another group of nutters?

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Happy

He runs a scaffolding firm: he owns a BMW. It's unremarkable.

Well duh, you think someone who runs a scaffolding firm would be driving anything other than a beemer?

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Joke

By, yer funny

"Oof - bit of controversy there! But, anyway..."

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Troll

Interesting

This is an interesting subject matter and one not just confined to Apple owners; there's a lot of advertising about at the moment that makes you feel part of a collective (normally the 'elite') by convincing you to buy their products - that new Mercedes ad is a prime example.

It is, of course, possible that Apple has just got it spot on and driven the frenzy high enough for all manner of folk to clamour for the latest device (cue: downvotes).

Love it or hate it, Apple's plan has worked. Maybe, at the Time Of Reckoning, all Apple owners will be banished to the depths of Hades for worshipping false idols?

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Anonymous Coward

Undoubtedly fundamentalists exist on both sides of the fence

however, I strongly believe that they are the minority of total users: the majority are just getting on with using their computer as a tool.

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Joke

@AC

As a bitter sysadmin type i have to disagree with your statement. It is my belief that "the majority" of total users are not using their computers/smartphones/*pads/etc. as a tool. "The majority" of total users /are/ the tools.

It is a subtle, but important difference I think.

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FAIL

And why do you give a fuck

what they do? Get a fucking life already.

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Grenade

Errrr....

He _did_mention he's a sysadmin. It's, like, his job to care. And his job provides him money to spend on important things in life (beer? also women, but beer first I think). And as I am one too I assure you he is correct - most users are idiots and refuse to learn how to use their tools effectively. Or at all.

How else do you excuse people that fail to grasp the few basic mechanisms of an email client after 3 years of use (Apple's Mail.app in this case)? The sheer level of ignorance I encounter has made me numb to such situations so it doesn't faze me anymore.

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I don't know about implicit religion...

...but this is implicit proof that in some cases, higher education cuts are not only necessary but downright beneficial. I knew that education in Texas was all about promoting creationism over rationality but this is taking the fig leaf.

G

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Anonymous Coward

Are you mental or what?

"secular artifacts get imbued with religious-like or sacred significance"

If evidence was needed to prove just how mentally unstable society is today!

FREEEEKS, it's a phone. And one that doesnt work properly at at that.

I feel very sorry for these people, why aren't they being sectioned, and treated for this illness?

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Anonymous Coward

You too?

Maybe for the same reason that you aren't, even though you are patently an idiot.

Grow up?

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Flame

You grow up

Its a bloody phone, the OP above has a point. Its overpriced and the latest version is faulty by design.

yes it has some good points, lots of them actually. but its locked down and restricted and you must sign on to the cult of Jobs.

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Are you mental or what

"I feel very sorry for these people, why aren't they being sectioned, and treated for this illness?"

Worryingly I misread this as why aren't they being sectioned, and threatened for this illness". More worryingly, I agreed with you.

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wanker

debate. Not ridicule.

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Troll

You forgot your icon

Here you go

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Jobs Horns

Actually I think I'll jump straight in with the name calling

I avoid Apple products precisely because of the "cult" behaviours surrounding them. Anyone who gets some kind of shared group affiliation out of a lump of silicon, glass and plastic (and demonises those who don't) is clearly a twat. I avoid overtly religious types as rule and Mac cultists definitely fall into that category, and I wouldn't want to be identified as one by mistake.

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But...

Aren't Mac hating Windows users, or everyone hating Linux users, just the same as the elitist Mac users? It's tribalism. You either love Marmite or you hate it.

I'd imagine the majority of normal don't really care though.

I think Marmite is a bit odd tasting. It's OK but I'd go for something else, given the choice.

Oh, it's nice on Twiglets.

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Unhappy

I hate marmite

BUT I LOVE TWIGLETS.

What's wrong with me?

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Pint

Zealots!

I felt much the same, then I simply tried one and like it. It's a tool, I enjoy it and it's my money to waste. The cult is a load of bollocks and there are some serious wackos out there, if you really want your blood to boil watch MacHeads the movie, it will have you in stitches!

I like Apple desktops and that's it. I hate the iPhone, it's just a sodding phone FFS! I hate iPods, what a crock of shite! I use Cowon PMPs as I can simply plug it into anything that can read a FAT32 filesystem. I hate Apple TV, Christ a £20 XBOX off eBay then chipped, will give way more media codecs that Apple's crock. Having said all that, I still prefer OSX when I am working on my photography.

I hate the 'religious' zealotry that comes with Apple ownership, Apple fanbois always remind me of the little alien zealots in Toy Story. "The claw( Steve ) will save us! All hail the claw (Steve)!"

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title

I've never seen a "Mac hating Windows user" try to push their beliefs on me or insist that the "Windows experience will change your life".

So I'd say no they are not the same.

Pointing out insanity does not make you insane by association.

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Grenade

Bingo.

"It's tribalism."

And that's what all religions, cults, sects, etc. boil down to: us versus not us.

Religion is just another name for the exact same thing. FOSS fans are no less rabid and vocal about their cult. Similarly, Windows PC users tend to be just as insecure about the platform they chose to spend their money on. (And let's not even begin to get into the games industry's similar problems.)

Above them preach the evangelists of science itself—yes Mr. Dawkins, I'm staring hard at you. These, too, do their fellow tribe members no favours. Berate someone enough about their behaviour and they'll just keep on behaving badly just to piss you off.

You even get the "talifan" types who believe only their own view of How Things Should Be matters: the kind of fan who will cheerfully rant at his own tribe's leadership if they don't pander to their every whim and desire.

Humans suck, basically.

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Linux

Linux users aren't zealots!

And anyone who says we are should be killed.

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Maybe that's the point

How could a Windows user even remotely claim that using Windows will change your life? I think that is their point, that Windows is exceedingly average, and once they started using a Mac they realized how much better it was.

They're all the same, except the Mac user actually has a legitimate reason to crow!

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Or is it reactive?

Reactive to most of the world believing that Windows and Office is a requirement to do anything in business?

Requires a "belief" that there is something else?

That someone can be productive without Microsoft?

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Heart

Do try to avoid name calling...

awwww - treating us with the respect we deserve. x.

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This Apple user says "non!"

At home most of my gear is Apple, my computer, my media players and Apple TV. I had a iPhone 3GS but didn't like it very much. The idea I equate Apple do a religion is absurd (I'm an Atheist, anyway). I can't stand OS evangelism or OS wars, I've used all kinds of systems from CP/M to Solaris to Windows and OS X. Fundamentalism is is ugly and ignorant.

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Indeed

I use Windows machines exclusively at the moment, simply because that's what they have at work and my iMac is way to old to use on anything. I'm hardly an Apple apostate though, as I'll get me a new Mac as soon as I can afford one (so send money).

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Church of Mac

I think there is some truth in the religion angle. In my experience, mac users are far more ready to blindly defend their computers that PC or Linux people are. Infact other people seem quite pragmatic and are happy to discuss the faults of their platform. This isn't so much the case with Apple. Additionally, the mac often seems to be an end in itself (like religion) rather than just a tool for getting a job done.

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real computers

In my experience it's exactly the opposite.

A Mac user has always been known (stereotype or what?) as a person who is ignorant of how to use a 'real' computer - BUT STILL MANAGES TO GET THEIR JOB DONE USING ONE.

I find Mac users just hate their computers a little less than the rest of the PC users out there.

Now I'm not saying the world would be a better place if all the designers who use Macs suddenly got electrocuted by their machines... really... I'm not...

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A few questions

"blindly defend their computers"? Are you sure it's blindly, or are they doing it with full knowledge of what they're talking about?

I think what many fail to realize is that people who use Macs, like them, and can't believe how much better they are than what they have been using (my experience) are frustrated when they see inaccurate information tossed around about Macs. (Incompatible with peripherals, just a toy, locked down, etc.). When they see inaccurate things written about the product they now enjoy so much they feel like correcting the error, and often times that is what comes across as rabidly "defending" the company.

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Products

Why isn't it possible to just want a good product? I use a macbook pro for daily work and surfing and a PC for gaming (and an Xbox). My nokia works great to call people.

I just use the device that serves be best, if its a bad product or design, that i sell it again and buy something better.

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Go

I agree

A Mac user is a Mac user and maybe a fanboy, not much to see there. But reading the judas phone threads I also got the impression the thread was about religion, as the possible quality of a phone you don't use should be of limited interest or consequence.

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Buying into a group?

No.. I was buying a smartphone.

The only reason for the whole Jesus phone, religion nonsense is the press wanting to stir up debate and thereby increase their readership of iPhone articles by those who like them AND by those who don't.

No other product seems to garner the same irrational hatred the iPhone does and probably the most common complaint is that there's to much press coverage yet at the same time that carefully manufactured hatred spurs the haters on to read all that very same coverage and moan about it which in turn brings out the "fans" in defence as they hate seeing something they like being dissed. This article being a case in point. It serves no purpose other than attention seeking and attempting to stir up yet another argument.

Before spouting nonsense about religion perhaps the press (El Reg included) should take a look at their part in the whole episode and analyse that.

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Case In Point

Here we have exhibit A, Apple Cultist 003.

"No other product seems to garner the same irrational hatred the iPhone does."

If you don't agree with 100% of my views on computer and phone hardware, you are being "irrationally hateful". Apple is like liberalism and the Westboro Baptist Church teamed up to form a supercult. Maybe Jobs can pace around on stage shouting "racist! racist!".

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So...

As the OP bought an iPhone and doesn't agree 100% with your view he's a cultist?

I dunno... That sounds fairly irrational to me.

I own Macs and PCs, which pigeon-hole do you think I am in?

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Happy

Oddly

Fruit-curious.

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Heart

Stuff White People Like: No.40

from http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/01/30/39-apple-products/

"Plain and simple, white people don’t just like Apple, they love and need Apple to operate.

On the surface, you would ask yourself, how is that white people love a multi-billion dollar company with manufacturing plants in China, mass production, and that contributes to global pollution through the manufacture of consumer electronic devices?

"Simple answer: Apple products tell the world you are creative and unique. They are an exclusive product line only used by every white college student, designer, writer, English teacher, and hipster on the planet."

When you ask white people about Mac’s they will say “oh, it’s so much better than Windows,” “it’s just easier to use,” “they are so cutting edge,” and so forth. What’s amazing is that white people NEED to meet people who use Windows to justify themselves spending an extra $500 for a pretty looking machine."

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Alert

Nice!

So you managed to crowbar a racist argument into a tech debate of brand loyality, well done! You must be very proud of yourself! Do you work for one of these groups who insist nursery rhymes need to be cleansed of the work "black" at every oppotunity?

What a f**king clutz!

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Nice!

Good grief. Stuff White People Like is a very silly, very flippant blog. It isn't 'racist'. Please preserve the gravitas of this very loaded and serious word for actual instances of bigotry. It serves us all to do this, and same goes for 'sexism', 'homophobia' et al.

Thanks.

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WTF?

oh, comedy racism is ok...

if you're talking about white people....

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White People

You'll find that the Jesus-Phones are very popular in affluent east Asia — Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and probably Shanghai as well. I'd be willing to bet that there are not a few black users of said gizmo in the UK and France too.

My guess is that people like it because it is an cool, expensive toy and that non-white people (as a group) would have as many if they were as affluent as white people are (as a group).

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FAIL

Or

If you are talking about your own social/ethnic/etc group.

Same as any black comedian will frequently tell jokes that would be uncomfortable from a white comedian, a Moslem/person from a Moslem country, such as Omid Djalli, Shulpa Shetty(Spelling) can tell Jokes that incorporate Iranian/Islamic stereotypes and it's funny. Woody Allen made how many Jewish jokes in his career? They walk the walk, so they can offer an invitation to laugh with them, not at them.

I can tell a cripple joke, and use the word cripple without being offensive. Because I am visibly physically disabled. Self depreciating humour, and I use it to put people at ease when I see they are trying really hard to not notice my wheelchair. Much easier if I break the ice and put my foot in my own mouth deliberately than them doing it accidentally and feeling embarrassed.

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Yer-no

Omid Djalli is from the much persecuted (in Iran) Bahá'í faith. He has talked about this at length on Radio 4, among other channels, so I find myself wondering how people allow themselves to perpetuate the stereotype, even if you did not do so in a very obvious way.

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FAIL

Except...

"""Same as any black comedian will frequently tell jokes that would be uncomfortable from a white comedian, a Moslem/person from a Moslem country, such as Omid Djalli, Shulpa Shetty(Spelling) can tell Jokes that incorporate Iranian/Islamic stereotypes and it's funny. """

Yeah - except for all the same members of the group that object to the racists jokes. Honestly, it's as racist to think that because you're a member of a group that it's okay to insult other members of that group that you have nothing to do with, don't know, don't have anything in common with, except a coincidence of ethnicity.

I don't like people perpetuating stereotypes about my race whether it's the BNP or whether it's Richard Pryor. You think because we're of the same race suddenly a joke about crack is okay to me? Your race doesn't give you any privilege over anyone else of a race. Because WE ARE FUCKING INDIVIDUALS.

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Unhappy

Oh-

I thought we were being Fruitist?

My apoplogies.

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FAIL

oops....

Context is everything.....

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Perfect example

"white people NEED to meet people who use Windows to justify themselves spending an extra $500 for a pretty looking machine.""

- This is the perfect example of why it happens. Someone doesn't understand someone else's choice, comes up with a patently stupid explanation, and is surprised when people respond to correct his stupidity.

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