Conformism and iVangelism

by Tom Bridge

Related link: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1775953,00.asp



Let me get the hard part out of the way. I am a lifelong Mac user. As long as there has been a Mac, I have been using one. Well, except for the time in college where I experimented with a mainframe, but, well, that was college, and we all know what college is like. I have been a Mac advocate since just about Day One.

What our dear friend at PC Mag has to say, however, is that people who support the Mac platform, and recommend it to friends and family, do so out of blind faith. However, our dear friend could not be more wrong. It's not that the majority of people who have market-leader products have them because everyone else does, it's because they want the product. If you buy a nice Merlot from Sterling Vineyards and have it with dinner and enjoy it, you might tell a wine loving friend about it. If you get a new cellphone and it works out well for you, you might tell a friend about it.

Product Evangelism is nothing new. It's been happening since man was rubbing two sticks together for fire. "Hey Ug, you might want to try birch sticks, the bark is way more flammable than the poplar you're using." This is nothing new, yet, somehow, to someone like our dear friend, you might think that Mac users had invented it.

One thing that Apple products do is make people talk about them. The iPod made people talk about music players, about digital music rights, about portability and design. The iMac, when it was first created, made people rethink, and then ditch, the floppy disk. The iMac when it was revised into the lampshade model, made people rethink, and then ditch, the CRT. Now we have the ubiquitous iBooks and PowerBooks, and heaven help us, the white earbuds that can be seen just about everywhere from metropolitan mass transit to small town sidewalk.

It's not about conformity; It's about having the best available solution. And Apple seems to provide that better than most other companies that I can think of. Volkswagen owners may wax rhapsodic, and Leica users may say "not bloody likely," when you ask them to part with their M3s, but more Mac users than not say "From my cold dead hands," when you ask them to switch platforms.

Why? Why is that? What makes the Mac so great? It's not that so many people have them, it's not that they sparkle and shine in the light, it's not that they spontaneously provide enlightenment, so what is it that makes Macs so cool? It's in the design. Go and pick up a Revolution in the Valley, or saunter on over to folklore.org and read the incredible stories of how the original Macintosh was crafted. Much care and thought went into building that machine. These brilliant engineers built a computer they would want to use. And with the exception of a few models since the original, it has stayed that way at Apple. Building machines to exceedingly high design standards, full of features that individuals will find useful, will create for you a market of customers and users that will sing your praises. And that's exactly what Apple has done. It should be no surprise that people might wish to share their success stories with their friends. Computers are no different than wine, automobiles, or other electronics in this regard.

Don't mock what you don't understand, Mr. Dvorak.

Apple fan? PC fan? What do I have right or wrong?


3 Comments

themas
2005-03-16 01:59:10
Design
One word: OS X.


Oh, maybe here is where design and a genius OS meet. Even though we all know "interfaces are technology, not cosmetics"

vainst1k
2005-03-16 08:25:19
chill, yo
Dvorak's specialty is outrageous predictions of demise, fantastic exaggeration of trends, and demeaning in datacenter-size proportions. Read a few of his past columns, you'll see. Just think of it as entertainment ;)
mwalker
2005-03-18 13:01:39
not even that well
And yet, there are other rabble-rousers in the marketplace (thinking of Mr. Limbaugh, etc.) The funny thing is, Dvorak is like his platform -- he doesn't even rouse the rabble very well anymore. It's a pity, really.


Maybe that's why Rush uses a Mac and Dvorak uses a PC. Does the computer make the man, or does the man make the computer? I think we should leave that question to the philosophers.