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How many customers does Apple need before it's not a cult anymore?

We've all heard it before: that Apple users are mindless sheeple incapable of thinking for themselves. That they'll buy any polished turd because it has an Apple logo on it. That they're slavishly devoted to the brand. Apple as cult is an outmoded concept, a worn-out trope and a really lazy way to understand the company's appeal. And I'd really like to see that description of Apple stop.

It's true that Apple ownership once drove a cultish loyalty. It was a very different era. Microsoft was the heir ascendant; Apple was in decline and seemed doomed to the dustbin of history. It was the 1990s. Apple computers had infinitesimal marketshare, and the company was pretty moribund - years of mediocre products and incompetent senior management led the business to a very bleak point, and it looked like there was no way out.

The only people who were still using Macs were ones who really believed the products were better. Who could either by obstinance or by persuasion convince their corporate masters that Macs were worth keeping around. But it was difficult. And it demanded tenacity. And more than a bit of irrational fervor.

The rest of the Apple story is the stuff of legend and myth: Steve Jobs, the once-spurned founder, returned at the eleventh hour. He triumphantly turned the company around and championed the development of new products. He single-handedly produced the iPhone out of a chunk of obsidian that descended from the heavens on a beam of golden light. Jobs and his dizzying array of magic inventions enabled Apple to become the most lucrative consumer electronics brand in the world.

OK, that last part I made up myself. But it fits the narrative of Apple as cult or religion.

Think about it: How many times have you seen "the Apple faithful" referred to in a news article from either a tech blog or a magazine or a newspaper, referring to Apple product owners? Those days are long behind us, now.

The average Apple device owner isn't someone with iMac posters in their bedroom who orders Steve Jobs action figures from Japan. He or she isn't someone who "bleeds Apple colors if you cut them." They're not the sort of people who stand in line for hours or days waiting for new products at the Apple Store. Sure, those people exist. But they're not the bulk of Apple's customer base.

Apple has over 500 million customer accounts on the App Store alone. Let that number sink in for a minute. 500 million. A year ago CNBC reported that Apple products were in more than half of all homes in the United States alone.

The vast majority of the people who own Apple products are regular folks. They're the mainstream.

Today's Apple customer is not slavishly devoted to Apple any more than they're slavishly devoted to the company who made their TV, or their shoes, or their car. They may have some brand loyalty, certainly. But there's a huge difference between that and the complete absence of objectivity that's implied by cultish veneration. These aren't people who will ever come to a Macworld Expo. They're not people who are likely even to visit this site. Apple products exist in their life, but their life exists outside Apple products.

Apple long ago recognized that its strength is in creating products that people like to use, that improve the quality of their life in small and large ways. And that's what they do, whether it's making it easier to download digital music, use a cell phone, use a computer or a tablet, Apple has a knack for making things that people like.

That's not being a cult. That's paying attention to your customers.

Certainly, there is a vocal minority of people who assume that the smartphone you carry in your pocket or the brand of computer you brought with you to Starbucks implies that you're on someone's team. We see those jerks in discussion forums all the time, haughtily crowing about the benefits of their platform over the plainly inferior one they're criticizing.

And they don't just exist in the Apple world. Android users can be real jerks too. Go to a gaming web site and check out the debates between PlayStation and Xbox enthusiasts. Or how about those window decals in the back of Ford trucks showing cartoon character Calvin peeing on a Chevy logo, or vice versa?

These folks are all demonstrating some form of misplaced modern tribalism. And it's a form of tribalism that tech journalists are only too happy to exploit, because it creates tension and drama.

Make no mistake: the "Apple faithful" trope is a dog whistle. It's manipulative and polarizing. It's something that the media uses to drum up interest in what they're talking about, and it reinforces a stereotype that is equally inaccurate and offensive.

So here's a call to action to my fellow tech reporters: The next time you want to write about "the Apple faithful," don't. Recognize that Apple product users exist in a continuum just like users of any other product, and find a different way to describe them that isn't so divisive.

And if you use "the Apple faithful" or a similar term to describe Apple product owners, please understand: you're part of the problem. And you need to change your behavior.

64 Comments
  • "The Lion doesn't concern himself with the opinion of the sheep"
  • I just like iOS. And the developer support is astounding. I'm still a Windows guy though. And I'll never line up for the next hot thing, haha. Sent from the iMore App
  • I remember lineups fro Windows95. Every platform has "devout followers." But they're not the ones these companies pay attention to.
  • Yeah, but how many brands, besides Apple, do you see people lining up for, before the product is even ANNOUNCED? It's just pure lunacy.
    I think when you stop seeing this kind of nonsense, you can officially stop calling Apple a cult. I would be happy if the majority of people buying iDevices would at least *look* at the alternatives before they plunk down hundreds for another one.
  • i started with the alternatives. i tried everything before i settled on apple. i started off with Android. but it was so buggy, and poorly made that i ended up trying a palm pre. i really liked the palm pre, but the battery life was beyond terrible. i mean with just literally not even using it and all apps closed. i could stick it in my pocket, and the battery was nearly dead by noon. terrible phone. so when the iPhone 4 came out, i was impressed by the design. And a lot of people i knew loved the iPhone. So i got an iPhone.. loved it. later tried a microsoft phone because it looked cool. but it was so buggy. the phone would get hot. internet hotspot was broken. the phone crashed while trying to make a call. it crashed more than my iPhone did over a year and i had only had the windows phone for 2 weeks. and then to top it off. syncing to the phone stopped working totally. i ended up taking that windows phone back after less than 2 weeks. and got an iPhone 5. guess what, i love it. it works great. don't know why i contemplated switching from apple, they know what they are doing.
  • If you haven't used an Android device since the iPhone 4 came out, that was a looooong time ago :) Android has improved by leaps and bounds since then. I have an iPhoen 5s, a Nexus 4, and a Moto X. There are things I like about the 5s (like the camera), but it doesn't run any smoother than either of my other two phones, and definitely not as stable. I was kind of amazed how people kept saying 'iOS just works' as my phone rebooted itself for the 3rd time in a week. My N4 has only done that once in the year that I've had it. iOS7 was kind of a mess when it first hit, although they seem to have smoothed out the kinks with software updates. Apple Maps was kind of a debacle when it first came out, Siri spawned class action lawsuits, iOS7 was buggy and made people motion sick, yet people keep going on about how trouble-free Apple products are. And you say it's not a cult? :)
  • I think that android has just become garbage over the last couple of years. I prefer Gingerbread over Jelly Bean. And the camera app situation is ridiculous. But after webOS was cancelled, and my Pre3 is too valuable to go on trips to places, so I stick with my iPhone 4 from 3 years ago. And yet I have only had one problem, and that is how the home button is weirdly pressed in. I've used Apple Maps since the beginning, and I had few problems. iOS 7 was the same deal. I had it the day it was available back in the beginning of the year. No problems there. And people claiming motion sickness are just worrying over nothing. And this 3yr old phone has never rebooted itself once
  • I have no desire to try a product again that they couldn't get right in the first place. Why should I use software from a company that felt it was ok to release buggy software. Android wasn't even the worst offender. Windows phone 8 was terrible. The Motorola droid I had had to be restarted every other time I wanted to use the gps. I just don't want to deal with that kind of poor experience. I see other peoples android phones restarting on them or just generally being poorly designed or whatever, and I just have no reason to give them another shot. I would also say if your iPhone restarts that much then there is something wrong with it. Honestly I leave my iPhone on for months without turning it off
  • 'I would also say if your iPhone restarts that much then there is something wrong with it.' Yeah there was something wrong with it... it was called iOS7 :) It seems to have stabilzed with the 7.03 update though. As for the OG Droid, I will say the same thing you said to me about the iPhone... if yours was constantly crashing/rebooting, there was probably something wrong with it. There are a lot of terrible Android phones out there, but the Droid wasn't one of them. I don't think it was as smooth as iOS was, but wasn't crash-happy either. Thing about Android is that when you have a lot of choice, you're going to have a few good products in a sea of crap, because most consumers prefer cheap crap, so that's what a lot of manufacturers put out. But Android itself isn't inherently bad. I don't want to sound like some of these Linux guys that say 'you were using the wrong distro', but the kind of experience you have with Android really depends on the quality of the device you have. And you're probably going to be one of these people who talk about how laggy/unstable Android is, when it really isn't. Go watch some Youtube videos of the latest high-end Android phones being reviewed if you don't believe me.
  • Most people i talk to love their android phones, and never have problems with crashing or anything like that. i just like my apple stuff enough that i don't want to try android again. i have my whole music collection on my phone. i have movies and stuff through iTunes. probably the smartest thing apple did was put iTunes on windows. i started with the iPhone. then got an iPad. When my computer hardware failed for the second time. I went out and got a mac.
  • That's the thing, those people are the minority. They're not the mainstream Apple users. And please, the keyword here, again, is YOU would like them to look at other products. Think about that next time you buy a new PC, car, bicycle, boat, whatever. I really wish you wouldn't buy whatever it is you're buying because I'd really love for you to look at other products. Reading between the lines, the products I like and prefer. I own an 2010 iMac myself, love it, would never get another Windows based PC ever again. But I'd also never buy an iPhone until the UI changes. I like Android phones and even WP8 phones better. And I'll never get a BB10 phone again. I don't have any bias but the Z10 is the most useless phone ever, for my usage. Basically no apps. Sub par hardware. No cloud. Barren app store. I could go on and on. But yet you see people devoutly crying it's the best thing since sliced bread. They're also a minority.
  • Actually, I don't really care what you buy... just do some goddamn research before you drop that much money on something. And this isn't just limited to phones either... somebody wants a new blu-ray player, so they go to Walmart and pick up whatever piece of crap is on clearance. Nevermind that it's going to break in 6 months, and you'll be right back buying another one.
  • I think most people actually do shop around, especially if they are spending hundreds or more of their hard earned dollars on something. I also believe that there is another minority that decides they want something like say a laptop and buys based on cheapest price. Speaking of my own family friends, a few buy the cheapest thing they can, some buy the best even if it is overkill, but most research and shop around for that happy medium of what they need and what they can afford. Personally, I fought Apple for years believing in my Blackberrys and HP or Dell PC's. Then I bought a BlackBerry Playbook. When I was standing in the store waiting on the Best Buy clerk to get one out of the stockroom because they didn't even have one on display I started playing with an iPad 2 and a Galaxy Tab. I still bought the Playbook but I left the store thinking how amazing that iPad was. One week later I returned the Playbook for the iPad. Six months later I upgraded my Android (which had replaced my broken Blackberry) to an iPhone 4s. Two months later I bought a $1500 HP Laptop which got replaced with a MacBook Pro after only four months and trying a friend's MacBook Air for a week. I needed a second phone for work so I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and used it for six months but I couldn't get past not liking Android. While on vacation I even had to switch it to my personal phone for a whole week because my iPhone took a dip in the pool. Two versions past my last Android and all the crap I hated is still there. The only advantage it had was size that I absolutely loved. Things changed at work and it came time to get rid of a phone. The Note 2 had to go. Despite it's size, too much other crap I couldn't get past. All of that aside, I recently upgraded some components of my home Entertainment center. I bought a 55" Samsung LED over a cheaper 60" Vizo LED. The specs on both were almost the same. I tweaked and played with the settings to get the sound and picture as best as possible but at the end of the day, the Samsung's picture was better and they got my money. Now if Apple had a TV on the market I might give it a look but honestly it's gotta bring a lot to the table to get me away from Samsung. And by the way, Samsung rules most of entertainment choices in my home from TV's to speaker systems and Blue Ray players. My external monitors that I hook my Mac's to are also Samsung. Why not Apple monitors? I can surely afford them but for the value and comparing display quality, Samsung wins. Bottom line, I like Apple when it comes to computers, tablets, and phones. If they bring other stuff to the market at an affordable price and quality it will get a look, but not a promise of purchase.
  • BTW: I agree with you about the Z10, but my best friend has one and she absolutely LOVES it. I found out it was possible to load Android apps on it... have you ever tried that? She seemed intrigued with the idea.
  • Majority of people buying an apple device aren't those standing in line. That's the point I think the author is trying to drive home. Sure there are some Jesus freaks but majority of followers of Christ aren't crazies. Now to comment on the last part, I've had an EVO 4G which I wasn't a fan of. Palm Pre which I loved more than my iphone but lack of apps kept me away. There was also the nexus 4 I bought which was ok but not enough to keep me away. I now have the iPhone 5s and I'm not going to pointlessly try again. Now that's just me but majority of people I know that own iPhones have also had android phones. I just had a friend who switched from the GS4 back to the iPhone. The cult thing is played out at this point
  • No matter how trite - some memes will never die... "the Apple faithful"
  • It's not about how many more customers, it's about how much more hardware and software upgrades Apple needs for the iPhone in my opinion.
  • The problem is that the fans fuel the dialogue. It happens with Android too where the bloggers, commenters and commentators are just as slavishly devoted.
    In the inbred world of tech journalism there is a tendency for the knowledgable types to gravitate to one clique or the other and generate rather too slanted copy which is easy to characterise as cultish.
    Equally, the couple of dozen queuing on release day do not represent the vast bulk of users.
  • The problem is that the fans fuel the dialogue. It happens with Android too where the bloggers, commenters and commentators are just as slavishly devoted.
    You're absolutely right, and that's why I call those people out in the last paragraph.
  • My dad used to set up Apple computers for the school he worked at in the 80's. And when they started throwing them out, that would be my first ever computer. So I was born into the "culture" so to speak. I had more than 50 MS-DOS/Windows based machines since then. But they were never as good. I mean, if you were a little kid and you were given the option of Kid Pix and Paintbrush (Now MS Paint), which would you choose? ;) It's as they say, once you go Mac, you don't go back. So when I was finally able to afford a computer on my own, I bought a MacBook Pro. I think the problem right now IS the fact that people buy Apple because of the logo. Which offends me as I sorta connect myself to the users in the current iPad ads. I use my iThings and Macs to do more than just browse the internet and play games. They make my life easier. But no, people continue to put us down for "wasting money". I've had two Android phones in the last two years, now THAT was a waste of money. Windows Phone on the other hand is brilliant, I enjoy it very much on my Lumia 520. I WISH they would use that same software on their tablets instead of Windows 8.
  • I wouldn't feel bad, I think the vast majority of people buying Apple products are doing it because it simply works and it's where the apps and fun stuff is at. And of course, most of their friends have Apple products and so on, always a little peer pressure of course. I was asked over the holidays about tablets, which one should this and this friend buy and so on. I ended up recommending 3 people the iPad varieties and 1 person a Nexus 7, based on what they were already using and liked.
  • Bravo. It's about time someone said that out loud.
  • Apple could have a billion iTunes accounts and the press would still refer to Apple users as fanboys, isheep, etc. Look at all the comments about Apple's success being down to marketing even though companies like Samsung and Microsoft spend way more $$ on marketing than Apples does. There is an irrational hatred towards Apple and people who use their products. I'll never understand it, it makes no sense to me but I don't ever see it going away.
  • How Ironic isn't it? Most of these Tech Writers get told what to write about. How are they going to call me a sheep when you walk into an office and get told what you can and cannot write about? Unless you're running your own publishing company and can write whatever you want you have no basis for calling anyone sheep. lol
  • I wish Apple had more news to report on. Articles like this seem like filler and not very useful. I'm probably the only one who feels this way... but this is the comments section so my 2 cents.
  • What kind of articles would you like to see here? Feedback is crucial to making Mobile Nations websites better and more useful for you and us all.
  • I like articles about new items, accessories, hardware/software reviews, hints, tips that sort of thing. I enjoy reading most imore articles, just not this type.
  • Exactly.
  • Tech Reporters, by and larger, are writing for eyeballs. Which means writing articles with various levels of provocation via incendiary comments. Keeps the advertising team happy...keep that revenue coming in! It really all comes down to credibility. A average person uses a product because they prefer the way said product works. If that product doesn't live up to expectations the next time the product is up for a refresh the consumer will entertain other options. Apple's continued success means that a vast majority of their consumers are happy with the product enough to re-buy it. There's too much pontificating in the press. STFU and just ask people what they like and what they don't like. It beats writing passive aggressive articles with little to no substance for the sake of hit whoring.
  • i seriously wouldn't describe it as a cult anymore because apple hit mass market with their iPhone and iPad, as they get the job done and they get the job done well. And I'm wondering why this post was posted! i suppose you could call it a fan base if you buy a mac computer as well and you buy into the whole ecosystem, as the market penetration isn't that large for the pc's as compared to market share. but if apple/google manage to kill off ms with their iPad pros/galaxy notes, they won't be regarded as cult anymore, they'll be the only damn things left.
  • Pot, kettle, black. The reason the meme has yet to die despite Apple's dominance of the mainstream market is that Apple itself cultivated (snicker) that atmosphere for at least 15 years. From the introduction of the Mac at least through the end of the "Think Different" campaign, Apple's marketing specifically told its customers they were different, special, better than the other guy. They spent over a decade explicitly portraying Windows customers as mindless drones (most famously in the 1984 ad) or hapless, clueless sheep (I'm a Mac). For a change of pace from insulting competitors' customers, they would pat their own on the back for being the types of "crazy ones" who would change the world. Fans kept beating this drum even after Apple stopped this explicit messaging in their marketing -- imore, to name one example, started out as "Phone Different" with a tagline something along the lines of "For those who dare..." (phonedifferent.com still redirects to imore.com) Yes, recent converts to the Mac have no such experience or biases, but virtually all of the tech press, from winsupersite to theverge to Gruber, came of age during this time period, and their writing reflects it. And, despite the behavior you decry as unfair for at least 27 of the last 30 years directly *from the company being covered*, you think it is the rest of the tech press that is being unfair and offensive? Wow. Just, wow.
  • Gotta agree here. Apple absolutely hams up their image as a cult. Even if they're mainstream, you can have mainstream religions. The iconography of the stores, a widely-revered, now-dead father-figure, an iron grip on control (however well-executed)... How often do they use the word magical? Don't get me wrong, the technology is fantastic and I don't blame anybody for picking up Apple products, but the cultish atmosphere to the whole thing is exactly what turns me off from switching from Windows.
  • I've never really cared what people think. I like apple products for the quality, intuitive of software, the ease of access of the same information on any device, and the design. Sent from the iMore App
  • Same here. iOS isn't really for me anymore, but I'll never leave OSX. It simply does what I need it to do with a minimum of issues. My old (2008) 24" iMac is still soldiering on and running Mavericks (a bit slow compared to newer Macs but still runs it fine), and I've never had any major issues with it at all. I've only had to work on it once, and that was just to upgrade the RAM, which was dead simple. So I'll most likely stick with Macs for life.
  • When it happens nobody will need to ask. But it's doesn't exactly matter how many users you have. 1 or 1 trillion. If the users are fanatics its still a a cult.
  • Hmmm. According to Webster a cult is:
    a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous.
    How small is "small?" I don't know but to apply the label "cult" to users of any particular tech based on preference seems a bit misplaced.
  • So what? Words have more than one definition. You've conveniently ignored the others. Webster also defines a cult as :" : a system of religious beliefs and ritual" and "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents"
    Webster also defines cult as "a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator." Another Webster definition is "great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad." And the Oxford dictionary calls it "a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing:a cult of personality surrounding the leaders." So what? It also says "a person or thing that is popular or fashionable, especially among a particular section of society:" The Cambridge dictionary defines cult as "A cult is also something that is very popular with some people, or a particular set of beliefs or behavior." Cambridge also defines a cult as, " a system of religious belief, esp. one not recognized as an established religion, or the people who worship according to such a system of belief." You have conveniently picked out one of many definitions that fits your perspective then omitted from your answer all the other definitions that don't fit your perspective. That's disingenuous.
  • My apologies. You have clearly done your homework. Obviously, users of a particular preferred technology should be considered a "cult."
  • Nokia (Symbian), Windows Mobile, Blackberry and Palm were all destroyed by Apple and Android. Prior to 2007 if you were into advanced mobile tech, you laughed at the original iPhone and G1 and likely beat your brand's war drums well into 2008 before switching teams, if ever. I was a Nokia fan. For most of us, the only serious next choice was Android, emboldened by fellow pundit smartphone bloggers who were doing the same on the points of AOSP, hackability and economy. Even less of us would one day wind up using iPhones, myself throwing in the towel for not appreciating out-of-the-box Androids and too much time flashing ROMs, customizing and fixing what updates would break. The point is, most of the disrespect for Apple mobiles comes from bitter fans of the original smartphones and those who gave up on them and moved to Android or WP. Many of us angered by our own damaged pride as we watched our family, friends and coworkers choose Apple products despite our strong, "expert" recommendations to the contrary. We chose to believe it was Apple's marketing rather than we were wrong. Many of us appreciate Apple now, yet some of us never will, pining for the day when our Apple-buying friends, family and coworkers tell us we were right.
  • Fun read "flargh".
    This can-o-worms is so endless that you might need Georgia to weigh in on the persistent psychological motives behind people's "taste great" vs "less filling" fandamonium.
    xP Sent from the iMore App
  • Loved the speech in this article. I laughed out loud several times. I am no Apple fanboy...but I do use Apple products. My employer moved me to an iPhone and it was just easier to keep my family in the same ecosystem. It works. If it becomes convenient to move to Android...or something else that works I will consider it. That being said, Peter's comments were spot on. Keep stirring that pot and creating good discussion, Sir.
  • Thank you kindly. :)
  • Wow Peter awesome article. I moved from Apple from Android and Windows. I loved the ecosystem. I remember when I first booted up my iMac my first response was 'Wow what a beautiful machine'. And our iPhones simply work. It amazes that they are a bunch of fools out there who love to insult and put down Apple consumers. An article can be talking about Android and that only and someone has to mention how iOS fails compared to its competitors. Appreciate an article that states things for what they are. People can use whatever platform they want, without haven't to 'sheep'. But hey if I am going to be accused of being 'faithful' then let be for products that are great and an ecosystem that is second to none. Sent from the iMore App
  • Apple are the ones supporting the "Cult of Apple" in my view. So it doesn't really matter how many customers they have or what % of the market they take up. From the beginning they advertised themselves as out of the mainstream, different, and elitist, which is how they still advertise themselves despite how common they've become. In short, the only people who could end it are Apple, and they don't want to. Who wouldn't want a "cult following" of their products? (Yes, there are "fanboys" of all brands, but the "cult" has differentiated itself from traditional fanboyism)
  • In point of fact, Apple has done nothing to provoke its "cult" following for years. The "Think Different" ad campaign was, arguably, the last time Apple did anything to spur that particular segment of the market, and it's been about 12 years since Apple used that slogan in its marketing. Apple further refuted its cult image when it walked away from Macworld Expo, first leaving the east coast show then the west coast show, giving the Apple enthusiasts who went to that event little reason to continue to come. It's reinvented itself a few times over the years, but there's little question that Macworld Expo is a very different event than it used to be.
  • You might be using a more narrow definition of the "cult" than I am, if you're saying Macworld Expo's are a driving factor of it. I'm referring to the company image as perceived by a great many of it's customers, not just the individual hyperactive fanatics. The "I'm a PC, I'm a Mac" commercials were examples of what I'm talking about. Those commercials weren't about "our product is different", they were about "our customer is different". All of the stark white monolithic images and "interviews". The high price of apple products and the lack of a "entry level" lineup is also part of this marketing. You're special to own an apple product. You're different. (You're better.) This is the mantra of Apple advertising, and it lends itself to the higher fanaticism you find with the Apple brand. (Not all of their advertising follows this theme, but it is present within total scheme, today. And yes, other companies also do this type of advertising, but not so much in the tech world). I'm not saying they're wrong for doing it, or that it's a bad thing. It clearly works, so more power to them.
  • "I'm a PC, I'm a Mac" continued well into 2010.
  • I wouldn't call the attempt to inspire creativity, the thirst for knowledge and new ways to access it, documenting the now and sharing it with loved ones across borders and generations as elitist. On the other hand, rivals' ad campaigns constantly shame and ridicule Apple's consumers to close the sale. That, is elitist.
  • This was very well written, and thought provoking, Peter. Good writing is hard. And you've done well. Sent from the iMore App
  • I think the better question is what is it about Apple that promotes the cult like mentality? Not all republicans are mindless sheep that want to reward the rich, yet that is how they are portrayed in the press, the same with Apple users. Why do people like Gruber and Limbaugh have the reach that they do? That will answer why Apple has a cult tag associated with it.
  • Republicans are viewed the way they are because of how they vote, the policies they support, the neighborhoods they represent, and how that specific demographic has historically voted, even before the parties flip flopped and southern white democrats left the party to become republicans.
  • Windows is still a cult, or at least they try to be. Get over it.
  • did everyone drink their flavor-aid?
  • To answer the title, a cult isn't about numbers but mentality. The cult mentality won't leave because more people join the cult.
  • At present no phone and OS is 100% perfect so the best solution is to use both OS ( android and ios) . For performance ,speed and customization , I am using nexus 4 ( kitkat 4.4.2 is way ahead than ios 7) and for ultimate screen clarity and outstanding sound through headphones , I am using ipod 4G touch and one more thing I am a great fan of jailbreaking and love my jailbreak community and eager to try jailbreak on an iphone 5 . So I am not a member of either apple fan club or android fan club . I like both and enjoy both and always welcome the GOOD THINGS coming in future.
  • Shoot, Apple doesn't even qualify as a sect any more. They're the freaking Vatican if you want to keep a sectarian theme going. But in the end, it's not even that. They're what Mercedes is to Germany. Here in the US, they are a luxury brand. Because that's what they ship here. In Germany, they're a luxury brand, but they are also the car, truck and bus maker - more along the lines of GM.
  • I'd agree that it's not a cult as soon as I stop getting vehemently bashed when I point out legitimate Apple shortcomings
  • Thanks for a great post – I think you may want to reflect on a couple oversights though...
    First, interestingly enough, "having a knack" for delivering something that people like under a banner of 'this will make your life easier or better' is not that far off from how many cults persuade followers. One could argue cults model themselves to cater to some of the same primal instincts that most retail brands cater to. Second, not that long ago Apple was airing commercials that deliberately played up the whole pride-conceit-almost-righteous angle: poking fun at Microsoft, and PC-guy, or the countless digs from the stages of Macworld or Apple events that reveled in a certain allegiance that Apple knew it enjoyed among its loyalest consumers (not just the tech media). So yes, while Apple obviously is now more committed to their broader audience with a more aspirational message, it is also fully aware—and appreciative—of the power of 'loyalty beyond reason', which is actually a desired effect in most marketing and branding. Aside from the fanbase that truly behave like jerks, I think some very respectful people consider themselves as part of the Apple cult or team. And that vein shouldn't be omitted or included in a caricature of "Apple-faithful". First off, teams are important and matter to people. Inclusiveness is wonderful, but no one gets included into something where some sort of team doesn't already exist. A passionate, fervent team is essential to any meaningful endeavor, and was critically important to Apple's history. And I encourage the media to continue to tap into that legacy and that element of our primal nature—but to do so responsibly with thoughtfulness and maturity.
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but when Apple reaches critical mass, won't they lose the cult title and be considered a religion? I thought that's how it works.
  • This is what irks me. Why should anyone need to justify why they bought a brand of smartphone. It's my #%^}% money. So what does it matter if I looked at the alternatives? I buy what I like it's as simple as that. The people who would call me sheep I don't care because I problem don't think much of them anyway. People will never escspe the vs attitudes. There's Marvel vs DC, Nikon vs Canon, Euro vs Imports, Windows vs Mac... I could keep going so just buy what you like and never let anyone make you feel apologetic for your choice it's your hard earned cash. Sent from the iMore App
  • Terrific article, Peter. It's refreshing to find a clear thinking tech writer when the topic is Apple. This whole 'cult' trope started out as a way of attacking the very strength of the Apple platform. In my book, Anatomy of an Apple - The Lessons Steve Taught Us, I devoted an entire chapter to the underlying basis of this phenomenon. It's a bit more insidious when you step back and look at the origins of it. Haters want you to surrender the best weapons in your arsenal, so they can beat you down. For example, you're best asset is enthusiastic customers? Your competitor will call 'em a cult for supporting you. The Mac's biggest asset was that it was about unleashing creativity. What did the PC world do? Called 'em toys! The 'toy' attacks led Apple to drive away game developers for the Mac. Then, the PC world took all the games, and used it to fuel stealing the home computer market. When iPhone came out, the PC attack was "But it's not for serious business use! It's a toy!" Sound familiar? This time, Apple didn't listen one bit. Instead, iOS gained the largest game selection of any (console style) gaming platform virtually overnight and hammered the competition with it. The repetition that someone will 'buy any Apple turd' is disingenuous. The Apple customer is overwhelmingly detail oriented and won't settle for a half-finished product. Remember, for the last decade, the whole PC retort was "Windows is 'good enough!'" and "If you're intelligent enough to troubleshoot and fix your own PC problems, why buy Mac?" When the "I'm a Mac" campaign put this PC claim in it's place, the next best PC attack became "you're a Mac fanatic for caring about things not working right!" Luckily, Steve and Apple didn't repeat their mistakes from the 80's, and were far more self assured this time around.
  • Very insightful point about the condescension aimed at Apple's advantages. Samsung deployed the same strategy in their ads mocking iPhone buyers standing in line. Disingenuous indeed.
  • This is the best article I have read in quite awhile. You make a great point. How many customers does any brand have to have before it can be seen as a company and not a fad or a cult? I think Apple lost the cult status long ago. For years it was seen as a niche product & has now returned to the forefront with everyone else. I can see both sides of the coin. I was a blackberry user, now an Android user, and apparently now I will be a dual user, since most work items are going to be on ipad. I think any decent company is always going to have its hardcore consumer base, probably not more than 10% at any given time. With a base of 500 million, that's still 50 million people. No wonder there are huge lines for new devices! But there still is the remaining 90%. The ones who like the device as a part of their lives. They make their lives work & offer the functionality people want. The non hardcore user base who just likes the device. The supporters that are not all about the brand, they just like the device or devices they use. It is this majority that should define a company, not the minority 10%. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • When I was a kid my mate always had crazy apple products that were always better than every thing else but terribly expensive and quirky. You also had to learn how to use your computer differently which confused and put off a lot of people. Now they are mainstream I believe they have re-evaluated their priorities from innovation to profit!