Do people still buy the Apple as the product of individualism?

Apple famously had a commercial during the Super Bowl called 1984 that depicted Apple as the only one to fight the conformity of Microsoft. Apple has frequently branded itself as in some ways a more righteous and pure option to microsoft. They have employed images of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. in their advertising, equating their products with being a revoutionary, in some respects. Now those advertisements were back in the day, but it seems to me that for certain people the perception still persists that somehow Apple is not some sort of mega corporation that truly only cares about profits and its shareholders.

Am I wrong? Do people still consider Apple as fighting the good fight, so to speak?

I think that some people will continue thinking this way as long as Apple is smaller than Microsoft. :slight_smile: (I have seen a runour to the effect that Apple could pass Microsoft in either sales or market capitalisation this year, but I don’t know where I read that and am trying to find it.)

But reputations are born of actions. Microsoft gained a reputation as evil because it did things like modify early Windows so it would refuse to run on top of DOS clones.

Apple has done things like that too, but it had a lot more goodwill to balance that out because of the design of its products. Apple could become evil though, if it headed further down the road of authoritan control of its users and let the design and build quality of its products slip.

I wouldn’t buy a computer from a company that didn’t care about profits and its shareholders. The best way for that to happen is for them to care about their customers too.

It’s hipster conspicuous consumption. Makes no more sense than college students who wear Che t-shirts made in China.
Apple does make many products that are a notch above the competition, so that’s one reason to buy them. But by cultivating that rebel, anti-corporate (which is codeword for “capitalist”) image, they make their product into a (partial) positional good, just like buying Armani/Porsche products raises your social status to others and to yourself. People who are looking for that status boost and have certain political opinions are only too happy to buy into it, even as they complain about consumerism and defining your identity by the products you buy.

Have you been reading Cracked.com, or did this spring up coincidentally?

Oh I agree, but they like to (or at least used to like to) portray themselves otherwise, or at least give the impression that way. I am just wondering if people still, or maybe ever, bought it.

Nope, not a coincidence. That article is a bit over the top, but it got me thinking.

Apple dropped the “Think Different” campaign awhile ago (though the term – and permutations of it – will probably never die totally) so they aren’t really marketing themselves as a “product of individualism” anymore. The company’s marketing is now more of a concept: “It’s really easy to do cool stuff on our products, and those products look a lot better than the competition, so much so that it’s worth paying extra.” After the iPod became ubiquitous, Apple couldn’t really get away with the whole “think different” thing anymore.

A good company lives up to its marketing and Apple has largely succeeded on this count – most critics still think the iPhone OS is the best there is, depite a heavy charge from Android (and Apple working with a miserable partner in AT&T).

Apple is certainly a large company that’s in it for the money, but their approach to making money is wholly different from Microsoft’s – Apple is about features and user experience, while Microsoft is about omnipresence and value. Microsoft’s approach works great when it comes to enterprise or to consumers who aren’t too techno-savvy. Microsoft still has unquestionable dominance in the business world, but in terms of both marketshare and mindshare, it’s slipped among general consumers of late – they’re pickier now, and a lot of them like what Apple has to offer.

IMHO, Apple is still deservedly known as more “individualistic” than Microsoft, just because they aim less (close to not at all?) at the corporate market. OTOH, by maintaining tight control on both hardware and software, they’re even more authoritarian than Microsoft. They just do it with a much lighter touch…a benevolent dictatorship, if you will.

My wife (a Mac devotee, newly minted at that time) used to get really pissed off at me when I said that Apple is worse than Microsoft from an authoritarian perspective. Then she went through a few upgrade cycles where she was forced to get specific hardware she didn’t want, or lost functionality in an OS ugrade. Now she gets it, and at least sees my point, even if she doesn’t quite agree with me.

When I walk by the Apple store I can see the smugness billowing out the door.

That’s what funny, Microsoft is far more Democratic, if you will, and Apple is far molre authoritarian, IMO.

Nitpick: that commercial was actually aimed at IBM. Microsoft was not yet big enough to be really authoritarian back then.

I think that, while Apple can probably keep coasting on their existing brand image for some more years, they are definitely taking serious damage in that regard. Stories about how they kicked some poor developer out of the AppStore for violating some silly arbitrary rule, are as common in the media as pro-Apple stories nowadays.

Still, their products are deservedly popular with artistic types, so they still gain a lot of reputation benefits from their association with that crowd, even if their business practices are no better than that of the next big faceless corporate behemoth. Microsoft, for comparison, basically markets itself explicitly as being aimed at boring tie-wearing corporate squares, so a lot of people are going to automatically assume that their business practices are in line with that image.

My own love for Apple lasted until about 30 minutes after I bought and set up my iMac. I wanted to play a movie clip downloaded from somewhere, and of course it opened in Quicktime. Then I tried to put it into full-screen mode, and a messagebox popped up saying something along the lines of “this feature is only available in Quicktime Pro, for which you will need to a $20 licence fee.”

What the hell? I purchase, anno 2006, a machine which is marketed specifically as a multimedia powerhouse, and these bastards want to nickel-and-dime another lousy $20 out of me for the “professional” feature of being allowed to view a movie clip in fullscreen? I didn’t return the machine right away (although in hindsight I should have) but it definitely soured my feelings towards Apple quite permanently.

(Yes, I know that there were a dozen different way of getting around that problem; I never did pay the $20. That’s not the point.)

I agree. Here’s the difference between Apple and Microsoft:

I work at a college to set up iTunesU for Apple. Apple’s instructions are terrible, expecting that the user has an advanced degree in computer programming just to set things up. The big problem was authentication: most pro software has instructions like “if you’re using Active Directory, do this; if you’re using system B, do this; if you’re using system C, do the other thing.” Apple did not bother with that step, saying, basically, “figure it out yourself.” And when you contacted Apple for help, they’d say “this is a free product. We don’t supply technical help for free products.”

(We eventually brought in a Computer Science professor, who couldn’t figure it out, either, but managed to steal some code from another college.)

At the same time, I was having a problem with Microsoft Silverlight; I couldn’t remove it, nor could I install a new version. I contacted Microsoft. They gave me some instructions. Several days later, they e-mailed me to see if the instructions worked. When there was a problem, they gave me further instructions and, again, contacted me a few days later to make sure their advice worked. Eventually, we figured it out.

Need I point out that Silverlight was also a free product?

Microsoft was willing to give first-class technical help to a minor problem affecting a single user of a free program, while Apple wasn’t willing to give the slightest help to a product that was to be used across a campus of 3000 students.

As for being nonauthoritarian, try buying an Apple clone computer some time.

If a Windows or Linux user is unhappy with Dell, HP, Acer, Toshiba, etc. they can always decide to buy their hardware from another company.

If an Apple user is unhappy with Apple what do they do?

They can go to the Apple store – there’s no Dell, HP, Acer or Toshiba store, on the other hand. You’re stuck with a phone call or with, ugh, Best Buy (or wherever you bought the machine from). And if you do call the hardware company, they might tell you to call Microsoft, and vice versa.

If I call Apple, or go to their store, they’re less likely to “ping-pong” me because they make both the hardware and the OS. Of course, problems involving third-party software can be tough to troubleshoot no matter what platform you’re on.

For what it’s worth, multiple studies (like this one) have given Apple good marks for customer satisfaction, higher than other computer manufacturers.

I mean if you are unhappy and decide you no longer want to use Apple hardware, not that you have a technical issue with hardware or software - then what do you do?

Easy: stop using Apple hardware. Of course, this means that you need to stop using Apple software as well. Or do something which is questionably legal and extremely unsupported.

But if you dump Apple hardware you have to learn a new OS and get all new apps. Granted, some of the apps are the same or very similar but not all of them.

Since the Intel switch, Apple’s hardware is basically identical to that of its PC counterparts. And if your problem is with, say, an Apple display, keyboard or mouse, there are a ton of third-party alternatives.

And if you’re just plain intent on running OS X on a non-Apple machine, there’s a pretty significant “Hackintosh” community out there, though that kind of stuff isn’t really what Joe Consumer is interested in.

I guess in some way I’m having a hard time with the question – what kind of issue could you have with hardware that isn’t technical?

Do people still buy the Apple as the product of indicvidualism?

Did they ever? It was a marketing campaign. It’s like asking if people really buy a particular brand of beer because they think it’s going to get them laid.

I buy Apple products because I like the operating system, they [mostly] do what I want how I want them to, and there are software applications I rely on that are only available on the platform. That’s it. I could care less about supposed “individualism” or status symbols. I know there’s a stereotype that Apple users tend to be smug, but I suspect most users purchase Apple products for similar reasons to me… they feel it’s a better product for their particular needs.