the apple cult

My parents purchased what I believe to be an Apple IIc many years ago when I was in elementary or junior high. I didn’t really have the brain capacity to enjoy it.  Played a few computer games on it.  Never used computers again – honestly -until I hit college and grad school.  It was during grad school that I  had a couple friends that were fantatics about Apple computers.  These Apple “evangelists” were trying to convert me – even then – to the Apple Cult…

15 years ago when the early fanatical disciples were trying to convert me, I was tempted because there weren’t that many Mac users.  And at the core of my personality, I’m a rebel and contrarian so I like the idea of being “different.”  But now, it seems like every other person [if not more] are using Apple Powerbooks.  And let’s not even get into the Ipod Revoluion…my 73 year father has 3 IPods filled with music.

While I understand that they’re beautiful stuff, I’m reticent to cross over to the Apple cult because…well…it seems to represent a certain status.  Right?  Maybe I’m just wrong and bitter that I never purchased any Apple stock.  On the week of the MacWorld Conference and Expo [and Steve Job’s keynote today], I’d love to hear from the freakish Apple fanatics:

What is it that draws you to Apple – their company and their stuff?   Help me get it.

Is it because Steve Jobs is cooler than Steve Ballmer?

55 Replies to “the apple cult”

  1. I agree with you entirely about the “cult of Mac”. When I eventually caved in and bought a Macbook, it was for all the “right reasons” – productivity, stability, and quality of user experience.

    Last night was a good example – my other half was sat with the video camera, and the Macbook, cutting together a movie and burning it to a DVD with full menus and so on – something that would take twice the machine, and lots of specialist software to achieve in Windows… and she didn’t need one book or any help from me.

  2. Here’s the moment that changed me from a PC guy to a Mac guy:

    I was working at a church, doing video production. They were using Final Cut Pro (version 2!) on a Power Mac and I thought the computer was cool but since I’d been using PCs until then, I didn’t see what the big deal was.

    Well in the course of using the Mac and making videos, I tried downloading some demo versions of some software that I thought might help me log and keep track of my video clips. Well the program wasn’t really what I needed so I started looking for the Uninstall app. But I couldn’t find it.

    So I ask the resident Mac geek how to uninstall this program and he says:

    “Okay, find the folder that holds the program”

    Got it.

    “Now drag it to the trash.”

    Uh huh…

    “Empty trash.”

    Then what?

    “Then what, what? That’s it.”

    I was stunned. It was that easy. The program was gone. No strange register or DLL leftovers, no mysterious dialog box telling me “some components could not be removed,” no nothing. It was as if the program never existed. This experience was basically what changed me from a PC person to a Mac person. Yeah, they’re expensive and I had to save up for months before I could afford even the basic iBook but it was worth it.

    Now that I’ve been on a Mac for almost ten years, I can say there are tons of reasons why I’ll never go back to a PC, none of which have to do with being trendy or hip or cool…although that is a nice fringe benefit.

    Best reason to use a Mac? Because it works. And that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but you have to really use a Mac to know how rich and beautiful those three words can be.

    Okay, I’m gushing…I’ll stop now, but really, I could go on and on. Don’t get me started on how easy it is to use the OSX dictionary (highlight a word, right-click on it and click on the look up in Dictionary option and poof! Instant definition. And this works in almost any application! Genius.)

    Okay, I’ll stop now, but really, I could go on and on. Don’t get me started on how easy it is to move your data from an old Mac to a new Mac (I had enabled a hidden/undocumented feature on my old iBook that placed my dock at the top of the screen instead of at the bottom or on the side. Before I mailed my iBook to my mom, I let OSX migrate my data to my new MacBook and once the transfer was done, the dock was still on top! Even my desktop picture was the same, even the tweaky changes I made to my menu bar were there, even the icons I had customized were there. It was a nearly seamless transition. It was a beautiful thing.)

    Okay, I’ll stop now, but really, I could go on and on.

  3. This is going to become a mac vs pc flame war pretty soon, but before that happens, here’s a slightly different take from a couple of different vantage points.

    I’m a software engineer, a computer science researcher, and a geek. And as such, I strongly prefer the Mac because of its unix underpinnings. Unix is a proven, powerful, and stable environment for software development and research; in this arena, Windows is simply a joke by comparison. As a result, for nearly 40 years, unix has been the de facto standard for most of the computer R&D that has been done, including internet technology. As a Mac user, I have access to the unix environment, and I can interoperate nearly seamlessly with other unix environments such as Linux.

    I’m also a student up at Regent College. A number of the professors there, especially the younger ones, are mac advocates as well, for various reasons. These include, of course, the fact that things just work and don’t take a lot of technical effort to do. One of the more interesting reasons I’ve heard, though, comes from Rikk Watts (New Testament professor) who advocates the Mac specifically for Accordance, a strong Mac-only Biblical studies software package.

  4. Hi Eugene:

    I would say you should switch to Apple for three strong reasons:

    1. Intuitive to use
    2. Highly productive
    3. Aesthetic

    Once you use an Apple machine, you would never go back to a PC. Believe me.



  5. Well, I know that they’re superior computers but I guess the better question is whether they’re 2x better since it’s much costlier.

    I actually used a Powerbook for several weeks. It took some getting used to and I realized how intuitive it was. But the crazy thing was the looks I got from people as I was toting around the Powerbook – presumably other Apple users. The closest similar thing I’ve experienced is being a Miata owner. Other Miata owners will drive by and smile, wave, and scream…

  6. I’ll admit that I’ve stuck with a PC, but that’s mostly because I simply don’t do as much with my computer as all y’all, so I don’t get to the level where I really see the difference.

    Maybe if I got a Mac I would do more with it . . .

  7. Umm, I think the video you posted answers your question! Goodness gracious but that Ballmer is a goofball. I can’t imagine him leading the company I work for. Can you picture Ballmer leading Apple? Absolutely not. Can you picture Jobs leading Microsoft…Yes, it would be a revolution.

  8. If Omar loves it, so do I!

    Ever since the very first Mac that my family bought when I was 8, I have been hooked. I don’t have to go through a million different folders to get to what I need, its right there! And I don’t necessarily think its a status thing, as much as it is a Bay Area thing for why I LOVE it so much.

    It works, it doesn’t break down on me, I don’t get viruses, I don’ t have to be an engineer to figure it out, and its really beautiful.

    And really, no one is as cool as Steve Balmer, at least in his own mind anyway…

  9. Dan:

    That’s sort of my opinion. I understand why some would NEED to use Macs because it’s certainly a more superior computer but how many of us really need it. I liken it to driving a 15k-20k car and making the upgrade to 35-40K car. Is it worth it?

  10. How’d I guess all the Mac lovers would be out in full force here? 🙂

    I used to have a Powerbook. The 17″ one with all the trimmings. I loaded up Office. I created a couple of cute DVDs for my gf and mom filled with music and photos from iTunes and my iPhoto library. Very neat.

    But at the end of the day, I need to pay the bills and do work. I need Exchange. I need Outlook. I need the ability to do things mobile and have stuff sync on the go (calendaring, contacts, e-mail). I don’t want to spend $2500 on a 15″ MacBook to surf the net, make DVDs, check e-mail so that I can have a slick looking interface that’s smooth and pretty. It is very pretty. In the business world, the Mac is weak sauce and the market share #s clearly show it. They’ve been stagnant for a while and continue to be. Where they’ve made their $ is in the consumer business spearheaded by the iPod.

    I appreciate both for what they offer and for a no-frills kinda guy, I’ll stick with my $900 HP laptop.

    And PE, they’re not looking at the laptop. They’re looking at the celebrity that is you! 😀

    And as for the who’s cooler Jobs v. Ballmer… Ballmer’s passion for his company is not an act. It is as real as it gets. It’s a battle out there and I’d rather have a guy who’s willing to go up on stage in front of thousands with arm pit stains showing through his shirt, chugging honey cuz his voice is getting hoarse, spurring on others to do more… that’s not too cool for school… that’s passion and love for what he does whether it be selling software licenses or putting a ball through a hoop.

  11. Jeff, how in the heck did you get that deal? I’m not hating on your Mac affection, but I haven’t seen a low price like that on a Mac like, ever. And my PC has never crashed either. I guess for me it is a matter of the benefits not being worth the extra cost for my personal situation.

  12. well, admittedly, they were probably trying to clear out the ibooks to make way for the macbook, so it was discounted. but even now, the macbook starts at $1099. of course… if you wanna get fancy with the new macbook air, it’s gonna cost you $1800, probably not worth it.

  13. I watch Dell trying to build their computers to look like Macs and failed. Vista was build to look like the OLD Mac OS X and are freezing up PCs less than 2 years old. Not to mention all the iPhone look-a-likes. Just as the rest of them thought they’ve found direction thru mimicking … Apple came out with Macbook Air and Leopard. As for the price… a new PC only comes with Vista Basic. To get the “Ultimate” version will cost you $399. But with any Apple computer, even the cheapest Mac, the Mac Mini, you get the OS X “Ultimate” version, AND iLife, which includes photo editing, movie editing, music editing, web publishing, Intel Core 2 Duo processor… and look at how pretty it is.

  14. i used PC for a long time… i was pretty proficient at troubleshooting for Windows, and had gotten good at all the upkeep (reformatting once a year, spyware, adware, virus-scanning). once i switched to a mac, i didn’t need to do any of that other stuff. i was a bit uncomfortable with not knowing how to troubleshoot as well as i could before, but the truth is, the system is just that much tighter because it’s designed to work in flow, hardware, software, and everything all together. just way fewer problems. and the customer service is top notch now with apple stores popping up everywhere. they’ll even replace your white palmrest if it’s dirty.

    so, to answer you question, yeah, i think it’s twice the computer. i get way more done on the mac than i ever did with a PC all with software that already came loaded on the macbook for free… garage band is pretty amazing for such a simple-looking interface. i used imovie hd to make a slideshow that paid me very well… also, safari 3 is the fastest browser out there. dashboard can be super useful, and exposé with active screen corners is the most efficient thing ever to hit a small screen.

    i 100% agree with the three reasons omar gave…

    yes, it is a trendy thing, but the funny thing is i don’t think the PC users that switch don’t really care that much about the extra attention… they just love their macs. i think the cult exists because people just love their computers so much, they want to spread that love (just like witnessing). that and they just get frustrated with people who aren’t with it (every dollar spent on PCs makes it harder for the mac to gain the popularity that PC’s have among gamers)

    i miss playing worms armageddon and counter-strike, but i’m getting old now anyway.

  15. Haha, yeah Steve Balmer is a little bit scary. BUT HE’S SO EXCITED HIS PRODUCT MUST BE GOOD! Or not =P

    Hrm. But perhaps I’m the only one who has never really experienced problems on PC. I use my PC everyday for surfing the internet, doing graphic work, storing pictures, watching tv, etc. Yet, the only problem I have is that I spend too much time on this damn thing.

    I realize that Macs are intuitive and aesthetic, but they really don’t do anymore for me than the PC I own. Also they’re considerably more expensive. For someone new to computers, I think Macs are definitely the way to go, but really the advantages of one are not all that considerable. As well, Microsoft seems to have caught on to the Mac trend and is taking steps to reconcile the differences between the two. So who knows by next year if there will be any considerable differences at all?

  16. I only got my macbook in February of ’07. Really it was because of the “cult” telling me how awesome it would be and I wouldn’t have all of the issues I was experiencing with my pc.

    Within 3 days I felt like a pro. It has been almost a year and it has never crashed on me.

    I am able to do everything on here that I was my pc, including paying my bills.

    I am no geek at all. The only way to explain is that if I go to open a pc file on my mac it says (oh that’s an exe, here I’ll open it this way there ya go – the pc on the other hand trying to open a mac file stomps it feet and whines I don’t get it, what is it, what am I supposed to do, oh never mind I’ll just shut down.)

  17. Another thing about Mac’s is they have a much longer shelf life than a Windows product. I was working for a church in san Francisco and the Reverend was having trouble printing. I looked at the system and the printer transformer was burned out. So I tried to fax it to ourselves, but modem issues got in the way. So I poked around under the hood to see what this little Black and White Mac tower was running for an OS (Yes, it was THAT old), and it turns out it was running almost state of the art OS. An OS that was 10 years younger than the computer it was running on! Macs last a LOT longer than Windows, so they are actually cheaper because they retain their value longer. With Windows, it’s practically a new unit every other year. Bad money strategy.

  18. I’m surprised, Eugene, that you’re not a Mac user. Honestly, Apple as a company are innovators, entrepeneurs, and shapers of culture while I see PCs more as replicators and duplicators. There’s a big difference. It’s interesting because I see you as the former rather than the latter.

    There’s certainly a price difference no matter what the Mac users say but my adage is: You get what you paid for.

  19. I’ve been thinking about switching to Mac. I do a lot of overseas work and I’m concerned about adaptability. Windows is everywhere. Easy to interface with other windows environments networks. I don’t know how easy it would be to use a Mac in that environment.

    Interesting thoughts from everyone, though.

  20. wow, relatively new to the blog and love the content…. had to reply as the wife and I have just been thinking of making the switch to Mac… hmm, must be a sign!

  21. The basic MacBook with either a student or educator discount is $999. Doesn’t crash.
    Packed with goodies. Works well with
    Windows, if that’s a sticking point. Loverly machine and worth the extra dollars.

    Also, if something goes wrong with your Mac, their customer service and repair is

    Actually, Apple sold a lot more computers in the 4th quarter than they had previously. Many attribute the surge to the love affair with the iPhone, all 4 million of ’em!

    I dunno, Eugene, maybe you’re a lot cuter than me, but I haven’t had those extra in-the-know looks you got when I carry my Powerbook around!

    So . . . innovative, excellent quality, great service . . . what’s not to like?

  22. Based on the tone and totally out of left field response a couple people made to my Ballmer thoughts, I would make a bet these people are in a somewhat diff socio-economic background than I (hope that doesn’t come off as sounding the least bit elitist).

    There are pluses and minuses to working in Corporate America, but one thing I’ve learned for sure is that executives at a mega-company like Microsoft are seriously talented, seriously smart, and stupendously passionate about their career and it just happens so that Ballmer also LOVES the company he has served for so many years.

    This is seriously COOL to me because that marriage between career and wealth with life satisfaction conditioning a large majority of its middle is so very elusive. I fully respect Ballmer for his achievements and his on-stage style. It’s entertaining.

    Hey, remember, Microsoft saved Apple. 😉

    Don’t forget that MS makes Office for the Mac, too. I believe the consumer media is available for sale sometime in February.


  23. Oops, looks like MS has already released Office Mac. I confused it with our Enterprise Agreement customers who receive it in February (MS sells via annuities to businesses).

  24. I think that the mac vs. pc price discrepancy has gradually become a myth. I don’t have the article bookmarked but I remember reading it before I finally bought my first mac. This guy broke down the costs of a mac with the cost of a customized pc and comparing the cost and specs of components, the price was actually equal. And when he threw in the “software factor” of macs, it even made it cheaper! This was over a year ago too.

    But I’m not one of those pc bashing mac people. I use both fairly regularly and am pretty comfortable on both. Macs really are more “intuitive” and simple to operate I guess. PC’s are more customizable and give users more control. If you use that control properly, PC’s are great. But that’s the thing, more people don’t want to mess with all that control. So, I guess that’s why people are discovering macs — and OSX, to be more specific, because the super-smart people use Linux and stuff…

    But with all that said, Macs do look better =)

    I’ll actually look for that price-comparison article now. It was a big reason why I switched to Macs. That and the fact that I could run Windows too if I wanted to.

  25. for middle-high to higher end configurations, at the average retail level, cost between macs and pcs is becoming more even (thanks in part to mac’s migration to intel chipsets), but if you’re shopping for an entry-level deal (which is what most consumers are looking for), pcs are WAY cheaper, and there’s not much dispute about that. sure, you can get a basic ibook for under a grand with a discount, but you can get a fairly decent equivalent pc for about 30% less, or if you shop for a great deal, 50% less. that’s a difficult price point to overcome, especially when the “benefits” of mac are highly subjective unless your usage is very specialized or dedicated to particular software/hardware limitations.

    at the end of the day, i just can’t spend twice as much, and most of the market sticks with pc for those reasons. the other dynamic is that it’s a pc world we live in- so much of the technology infrastructure (particularly in business) in the world is held together by (predominantly) pc technology.

    then there’s the issue of the alleged mac “superior reliability” which is, in my view, a bunch of crap. they’re just different, with different design and maintenance philosophies built in. maintain a pc well, and it will run forever. if it does crash, it is a relatively easy fix for an experienced user. macs are reliable to a point, but when they do crash, it’s apple care to the rescue or you’re pretty much screwed. i don’t know many mac users who haven’t had at least some service done- dead hard drive, bad os, faulty components, etc. true, there are some really bad pcs out there as well, but because of the breadth of the market, you’re bound to have more examples of crap. dollar for dollar, a pc is just as reliable, if not more so, than a mac.

    don’t get me wrong- macs have a beautiful interface, amazing design, and some really cool features. i just can’t bring myself to pay that much for it.

  26. I don’t care how brilliant or how good of a boss Steve Ballmer is. No one should be allowed to dance like that. That’s just stupid dumb. I couldn’t work for man that danced liked that. But, that’s just me.

  27. opened up a can of worms.

    you have to wonder, why are mac-users so insanely loyal? there must be something about the product or the company. it really is akin to a conversion experience. things are fuzzy at first, a little disorienting but the light is undeniable, unmistakeable. people remember the day, the moment. they spread the good news.

    apple does make mistakes. they know they have but they keep pushing the envelope. i try not to push product but i can’t deny some of the brilliance.

    here’s some thoughts that may be different from other comments…i hope. i really don’t want to sound like i’m mac thumping here.
    i know many have harked on the price. apple’s products are usually ahead of the market being the first to include as well as take away different components on their models (i.e. the death of the disk drive, inclusion of bluetooth, wireless, firewire and so forth). therefore you may not need to buy those parts later on. this is apple’s way of steering consumer electronics and the standards they apply. innovation is more than just looks.
    plus this give apple computing products a little more life span over a windows machine.
    the average user’s mac lasts 6-10 years.
    the mac’s real strength is its operating system. it’s really a thing of beauty if you can see it like how neo sees the matrix. there’s a reason why it’s so difficult to write a virus for the mac which i won’t bore you with. but it’s not true that people haven’t targeted macs. apple has put themselves out there for some matter of time now as a target, “we don’t get viruses”. and it still holds true. according to virus protection software companies, there are no known viruses for the mac, ever.
    all together pretty low stress if you ask me. so replacing a computer every, say, 2-3 years, worrying about viruses, the frustrations of troubleshooting, subpar customer service vs spending a little more on a machine that simply…works…hmmm.
    man i hope i didn’t come off as obnoxious. i know some mac-evangelists like some christians can just be frightening.

  28. LT: good thoughts for sure. again, i don’t think many people will deny that macs are more superior products on the most part. in my mind, i’m just stuck w/ the price disparity [a la david’s post] and wonder if it’s worth it. clearly, for mac users – it’s a big yes.

    ben: why you have to go there? do i have to take you to the basketball court to humble you again?

  29. I couldn’t find the article that won me over to macs. That article was witty, poignant, touching, and brilliantly written. I did find this shorter article from around that time though (mid-late 2006) about the findings of a firm that studied the comparisons:

    Apple Insider

    Do most people really look for “entry-level”?? I would think that’s the case for a first laptop or desktop, or for just a basic family computer. But if you even moderately use your computer for things you do in work or school, I would think you would be much happier with at least a mid-level product. Maybe that’s just me. (and I’m not well-off financially by any means.)

    As a matter of fact, I found another article about that too, but it is written by an obvious mac-lover who starts off masquerading as a pc-lover:

    Mac 360

  30. Yep, MAC OS is pretty and has a following, but don’t believe everything you hear about it being more secure, other than security by obscurity…

    Check out the vulnerabilities that nver make the press:

    I’ve used Vista since Jan 2006 (yes since Beta 1), and I’m very happy with it…

    See people who use PCs do this cool stuff called work and we get things done : )

    I guess I’m an Apple Flame-boy and a MS Fan Boy 🙂

    Jeff –

  31. pc or mac….at the end, who da hell cares as long as it gets the job done…pc crashes…mac crashes…it is a conspircay created by IBM, APPLE, SUN, Commodore, HP, Dell…that our lives will be easier by using these damn boxes with buttons….it just complicates things more on normal people….

  32. There are a lot of Questers who love PCs, but the sermons for the past couple months have been recorded on a Mac.

    And most Mac people don’t hate PCs, they just prefer to use a Mac because it works and it’s elegant.

  33. For someone like me who has used Apple continously since 1982, through thick, thin, and very, very thin (anyone remember the Wired cover?), it’s still strange to see how ubiquitous Apple is now.

    People often forget that VisiCalc started out on the Apple ][, that Word and PageMaker started out on the Mac, and that Tim Berners-Lee invented the web on the incredibly elegant NeXTStep platform, which provided the modern foundation for Mac OS X after Jobs returned to Apple in 1997.

    I’d be the last person to say Apple or Jobs are perfect, but Apple has always stretched the boundaries of what ordinary people can do with technology, and I think that rate of innovation is only going to accelerate from here out.

    As important as hardware is, that playing field is pretty level now due to the transition to Intel. Software is where it’s at: the iPhone and Apple TV (both running OS X) are just the tip of the iceberg…

  34. I operate in a business school environment in which about 10% of students have Apple computers. The environment’s pretty intense — transporting your laptop everywhere; needing to open and close at least a dozen times daily; running programs approximately 12-13 hours daily (on average). Some observations:

    1. My Apple is just as finicky as a PC — I’ve cursed at it a few times.
    2. The MS Office suite is not fully compatible with PCs, particularly Excel. This can create some difficulties when file sharing.
    3. Hands down, the platform of choice for 95% of the Fortune 500 companies is PC. If you’re not well-versed on how to operate one, it might come back to haunt you.

    So why did I choose to stick with Apple? Steve Jobs brainwashed me. 😉

  35. I can’t believe I just read through all those comments…

    It seems every anti-Apple person I meet is one that hasn’t actually taken the time to see for themselves how much better a product it really is. It’s like when you meet people who are still “happy” with their Hotmail or Yahoo Mail accounts and haven’t given Gmail a fair chance…jeesh

  36. D…

    Do you honestly believe what you just wrote? Your view is quite egocentristic, you believe that Apple has the beeter product, that is fine but you just made a very wide statement that baically puts anyone who disagrees with you as ignorant. Is it possible that some people who are as enlighten as yourself may actually perfer Windows over OS X? Just a thought…

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