The Cult of Mac: On being an Apple ‘fanboi’

Back in 1994, Italian novelist Umberto Eco (writer of “Foucault’s Pendulum” and “The Name of The Rose”) published a now-legendary, whimsical piece in the Italian news weekly Espresso, contending that the Microsoft/Apple rivalry is “a religious war.” Eco was “firmly of the opinion” that the Macintosh is Catholic; “It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach — if not the kingdom of heaven — the moment in which their document is printed.” He pointed out that with a Mac you deal with simple formulae and sumptuous icons, and “everyone has a right to salvation.”

On the other hand, Eco contended, the (then mostly DOS-based) PC was Protestant, “or even Calvinistic,” demanding difficult decisions and interpretations, taking “for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation.” The PC user “is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.”

Is Apple a Cult, a Religion or a Brand? –

iMac My computer history, briefly, has been Acorn Electron, Amiga 500, various PCs running Windows 95, then ME and finally XP, which brings me to the machines I use now. I have an Eee-PC netbook (which for a year was my only personal computer). I experimented with a few Linux distros and eventually settled on CrunchBang Linux.

I also bought an iPhone 3G in this period, which eventually helped me decide to buy a 27″ iMac, which I think is absolutely fantastic.

What is notable, is that despite years of using (and still using 8hrs a day) Windows, and after a year of persevering with Linux, as soon as I became a Mac user I have had the accusation leveled at me that I am just a mindless fanboy, been told that it’s a cult, and become more acutely aware of the criticisms generally levelled at Apple users.

To be blunt though, I’ve been using my Mac for about three months now, and it’s never crashed or done anything unpredictable. The worst experiences have been with open source applications (I installed GIMP and Inkscape to get started, but soon found nicer Mac native alternatives). Steam is also pretty crashy, but that software has a huge PC heritage. And Google Chrome has a habit of preventing shutdown. The machine also gets very warm if I do something a bit demanding, which is worrying but so far hasn’t caused any problems.

Overall, it’s like being in some kind of computing utopia. I can see why people get excited by Apple stuff. It’s not just hype, there’s some real satisfaction to be had from using their stuff. Even the iPhone 4, for all of ‘antennagate’, I still love using the thing. I know it’s just a phone, and there are perhaps others that can do more (and cost less), but the satisfaction is definitely very real. It’s the same with my Mac – I just love looking at the thing.

So yeah, I guess I’m a fanboy. That honestly wasn’t the conclusion I had in mind when I started writing this!


6 thoughts on “The Cult of Mac: On being an Apple ‘fanboi’

  1. It’s nteresting that you have such libidinous feelings towards electronic gadgets and to a brand. I wonder how they did that then

  2. Well, that’s nothing unusual. Cars and shoes are possibly two of the most practical items you can own, but even they are usually sold on looks. I find it more interesting how having excellent aesthetics is usually spun into a negative by Apple detractors. Sent from my xylophone

  3. I think I may write a counter to this post myself though. There is plenty Apple do that I don’t like at all …

  4. Yeah, the issues with iOS4 on the 3G are pretty serious and unforgivable. I’m still really happy with the iMac. Since I’ve had one, I’ve had a closer look at various PC equivalents, and they really do look cheap by comparison. I know I’ve paid for that quality, but it really doesn’t seem like wasted money to me. It’s not all sunshine though. The Magic Mouse is crap. It’s probably fine if you’re mostly a writer/coder, and it works brilliantly for web browsing, but it makes Photoshop, Illustrator and games a total nightmare. It eats batteries too.It’s a niggle, but Apple don’t make a wireless full length keyboard. This saddens me.

    The computer is practically silent, but it can get hot. This hasn’t been a problem (yet), but it does worry me. Seriously, go into an Apple store and touch the top of one. I can feel the heat on my face when I sit in front of it! I have plans to do some 3D rendering and video editing in the future, but I worry that my machine will explode…

    There are loads of excellent (and very affordable) software options. I’ve fallen in love with TextMate, Notational Veliocity, Transmit, Scrivener and Pixelmator. Maybe I’ve missed all the great Windows software, but I think you can get better tools on a Mac for less. Can’t compete with Linux on money of course, but you’ve already read how I feel about that.

    iTunes runs like a dog, so if you’re expecting that experience to get any better, it won’t. The other bundled software seems pretty good though. I tried iMovie for the first time the other night, and was impressed with how good it was.

    The biggest problem is certainly philosophical, and I’ve no good defence for that. Apple set the limits for you, and while I’m sure you know how to circumvent them, you may prefer not to spend the time fighting with your OS if you have some more ‘edge case’ uses. There’s also speculation that Apple are going to be more interested in developing iOS going forward, so OS X could possibly stagnate.

    Sorry for all the words! I’ve tried to cover everything negative I can think of there. It’ll be interesting to see if my opinion of Apple changes much in the next year or so as I clock more hours and maybe uncover more serious problems.

  5. Obviously it’s a hard (impossible?) thing to do, but post-purchase rationalisation aside… approximately four months after your purchase, what are your objective thoughts on the 27″ iMac?Like you, my iPhone purchase (3G) led me further into Apple’s rabbit hole, but so far only to the point of a (fantastic) Dell Mini 9 Hackintosh.As you said, the whole iOS / OSX experience is like a “computing utopia” and now I’m itching for a full-sized complement to my notebook. The 27″ iMac is what I’m thinking of.Given that this wonderful looking machine is a whole order of magnitude more expensive than any other computing product I currently own, I’m looking for all the input I can.As a somewhat interesting aside, my experience with the iPhone post-iOS 4 has led me to conclude that I’ll likely never buy another Apple phone for reasons too numerous to discuss at the end of this comment! My experience with OSX, however, continues to be excellent.

  6. Excellent — thanks for the comprehensive reply.I completely understand your issues with the Magic Mouse. I use one with my netbook and it can be a pain sometimes: the inaccurate scrolling is my biggest issue. Luckily, however, I spend my time on tasks that don’t necessarily require an extremely accurate mouse (some photo editing, but mostly on the RAW-editing side).I had never noticed the heat issue before, so I will definitely swing past an Apple store soon and check this out. As you say, it’s not so much an ‘problem’ as an ongoing ‘worry’. That’s one definitely to look at in further detail.I am similarly in love with Mac software. I’ve been wanting to take Notational Velocity for a trial run and am a huge fan of WriteRoom. Many Apple products are great, too, but I’m still to take iMovie for a spin. I have always avoided iTunes like the plague and with good reason, it seems. If it doesn’t work on one of these, I would imagine the application itself needs a serious overhaul.It seems that we’re on the same page here: the experience and tools are superior in many ways and this is what tempts me; philosophically I’m torn, especially due to the iOS 4 debacle and I now wonder how the Apple-set limitations could mar the OSX experience.Again, thanks. This is exactly what I was looking for. Very balanced.

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