friday-rant
Business Management

Rant: We need to end the war over Apple

Somebody should conduct a study into the imbecilic irrationality, religiosity and mania that can affect otherwise sane people when it comes to computer brands and camps. One sees it in Linux, in web browsers, and even, microprocessors and GPUs. But nowhere is this more obvious than in the weird trigger emotions provoked by Apple.

I’ve observed people reduced to speechless incoherence, almost to the point of tears, as they defend the Church of Cupertino. Their antagonists can be like cats playing with mice: aggressive, arrogant, dismissive but equally partisan in their utter distaste and contempt. Journalists meanwhile play off both sides in the safe knowledge that strongly ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ pieces will generate traffic.

Why is this? My hunch is that Apple has become a proxy for something much more, a world view almost. Apple ultras admire design and differentiation, premium pricing and the sense that they know something more than the sweat of the office cubicle and the hamster wheel of the workplace. Their iconoclastic opponents despise pretentiousness, snobbery, the Emperor’s New Clothes, hogwash, bullshit, and spin. And there we have the two camps: cavaliers and roundheads, Dylan versus the Beatles, Picasso over Charles M. Schulz, Aperol and best bitter.  

Let’s be very clear here: Apple is a company that makes computers and software. Just like Microsoft, its old sparring partner, Apple wants to make as much money as it can giving you what you want and charging as much as the market can tolerate. It might emphasise design a little more but its engineers look the same as you and I. They sweat, breathe, make errors, live and die. Often Apple has very good products but sometimes they do not. Does anybody seriously think iTunes is good software, for example? Surely not, although the iPad and iPhone are more life changing than game changing products. But few in the trenches will allow ying and yang to coexist.

Things might be changing though and there’s a chance of peace in our time. The phenomenal success of the reimagining of Apple, Apple 2.0 if you like, now sees the company bringing in $3.80 for every $1 Microsoft’s cash machine registers. Where once Apple was the Parthenon, it is now in the mall and as scarce as Starbucks. The cachet in owning Apple products has been reduced: Max Mara has become Levi Strauss, Macintosh has become Big Mac.

In this, there may be hope for those of us tired of the war, the terrible casualties at dinner parties and in pub conversations, the trolling and the linkbait. We need less of this nonsense and more balance. Can’t we all just get along?

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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