Revealed: How Steve Jobs Turns Customers into Fanatics

Photo via powerbooktrance

Marketers gaze in envy at brands like Apple. The firm that began with the Mac built some of the first home computers [doh, thanks, alert reader!] has turned their customers into legions of fanatical evangelists. But, without a Steve Jobs at the helm, or with fewer resources than Apple, is building that kind of loyalty possible? I’ve got good news: while having a visionary and charismatic CEO is a big plus, it isn’t necessary to build a fan base, or even a fanatic base. One big secret of Apple’s success lies in an experiment conducted 40 years ago.

The Seminal Experiment

Psychologist Henri Tajfel wanted to know how seemingly normal people could commit genocide, and explored how easy or difficult it was to get subjects to identify with one group and discriminate against others. What he found was startling: with the most trivial of distinctions, he could create artificial loyalties to one group, who would then discriminate against those not in that group.

Tajfel tested subjects by having them perform a more or less meaningless task, like choosing between one of two painters or guessing a number of dots shown on a screen. Then, each subject was assigned to a group, ostensibly based on their answer. When the groups were formed and asked to distribute real rewards, they became loyal to their own group and were stingy with the other group. Many variations on this experiment have been performed subsequently, and they have shown that people can develop group loyalty very quickly even in the absence of real differences. Subjects even became emotionally invested in their meaningless groups, cheering for their own group’s rewards and mocking the other group

Tajfel’s experiment (published in Social categorization and intergroup behavior) led to the theory of social identity, which states that people have an inherent tendency to categorize themselves into groups. They then base their identity (in part) on their group affiliations, and build boundaries to keep other groups separate.

Us vs. Them

In neuromarketing terms, our brains are hardwired to WANT to be in one or more groups. Brands that can be positioned to put their customers into a group will find that their efforts will be enhanced by their customers’ own need to belong. In addition, they will likely cultivate a dislike for other brand groups.

Jumping back to Apple, look how they have leveraged an “Us. vs. Them” approach for decades. Their “1984″ commercial certainly drew a sharp distinction between the lone, attractive, athletic young woman and the lines of brainwashed drones.

A year later, Apple’s creepy and somewhat depressing “Lemmings” commercial continued to push people into one of two camps; they again portraying PC users as blindfolded businesspeople functioning like suicidal rodents following each other off a cliff.

Fast forwarding to today, look at the wildly popular Mac Guy vs. PC Guy ads. These in particular draw a sharp distinction – do you want to be one of the cool kids, or a dork?

Compare People, Not Products

Note the common characteristic of these, and many other, Apple commercials: they focus on the PEOPLE who use each product. These ads convey little or no actual product information, and instead mock PC users while portraying Apple users in a favorable way.

Certainly, other brands have successfully exploited this concept, both directly and indirectly. Could the surprising results that showed Coke-branded cola lit up people’s brains more than Pepsi (whether or not the beverage tasted was Coke or Pepsi) be a result of more people thinking of themselves as “a Coke person” vs. “a Pepsi person?” The famous “Pepsi Generation” campaign was all about Pepsi drinkers as a group, though in the long run Coke has held its leading position.

Car and truck makers haven’t worked the “us vs. them” angle very much in their ads, but their owner base has certainly picked up on the theme. Truck owners in particular seem to consider themselves part of groups, as shown by the ongoing animosity between Chevy people and Ford people, to say nothing of the clannish owners of HUMMERs.

Our Customers are Different/Better

While the “us vs. them” strategy works better when products are visible to others (cars, apparel, cigarettes, etc.) there is no reason why it couldn’t be employed by nearly any brand people feel at least a little attached to. It’s critical to make your customers feel different, and to interact with them in a way that makes that more credible than a passing ad slogan.

Godin and Tribes

Seth Godin echoes this thought, but states it in his own terms:

Brand management is so 1999.

Brand management was top down, internally focused, political and money based. It involved an MBA managing the brand, the ads, the shelf space, etc… Tribe management is a whole different way of looking at the world…

What people really want is the ability to connect to each other, not to companies. So the permission is used to build a tribe, to build people who want to hear from the company because it helps them connect, it helps them find each other, it gives them a story to tell and something to talk about…

People form tribes with or without us. The challenge is to work for the tribe and make it something even better. [From Seth's Blog - Tribe Management.]

Do your customers feel like they are part of a group?

Have you been able to make your customers feel different than those of your competition? Does your brand have a tribe? Have you been able to define an “enemy” group that strengthens the cohesiveness of your own? Leave a comment. If I can, I’ll feature a success story or two in a subsequent post.

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This post was written by:

— who has written 985 posts on Neuromarketing.

Roger Dooley writes and speaks about marketing, and in particular the use of neuroscience and behavioral research to make advertising, marketing, and products better. He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and founder of Dooley Direct LLC, a marketing consultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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106 responses to "Revealed: How Steve Jobs Turns Customers into Fanatics" — Your Turn

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Tom 25. August 2010 at 11:29 am

Have you also considered that, besides “us” vs. “them”, there is actually a technical difference between the products that “us” sells compared to “them”?

Maybe this little understood difference could explain why someone would prefer one over the other.

Reply

Roger Dooley
Twitter: rogerdooley
25. August 2010 at 11:52 am

I agree that product differences are important, Tom. But just having what some would call a better product doesn’t guarantee that many of your customers will become fanatical devotees who evangelize your product to everyone who will listen.

Roger

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Ramiro Roman
Twitter: ramiroroman
25. August 2010 at 12:19 pm

Roger,

I agree that “us” versus “them” can be powerful, especially in cases where the reference point (“them’) is the market dominant. The traditional case study is Avis (“we try harder”) versus Hertz.

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Dr. K
Twitter: drknd
25. August 2010 at 8:39 pm

While I enjoyed reading the article, I think you’ve got it all wrong. Apple succeeds by doing a few things really well. First, they make insanely great products, designed to work the way people work. This has always been true, and they keep refining and refining with the best tools available. Two, Apple focuses not just on the customer experience using the product, but on the customer experience when needing support. Thus, you can walk up to a Genius Bar in an Apple store, and the employees will help you with your problems, even with NON Apple products, if they can. Call Apple Support and be astounded at how quick, focused and friendly the support people are. And three, Apple makes the whole experience of technology fun. You can see it in their products AND in their ads.

BTW, in the Mac vs PC ads, the ‘people’ were actually standins or personifications of products, not of people using the products. So you got that wrong, and it makes one wonder how well you really thought all this through. Get a Mac, buy an iPad and/or iPhone (I’ve just reviewed them both on my blog) and you’ll catch the bug of fanaticism for an amazing one of a kind company that does things the way we all wish the whole world did things.

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Joseph H. Willis, Jr. 30. January 2012 at 12:38 pm

Dr.K,

You and I agree on many things, thank you and to the author for your insight. But this is a war that cannot be won by explaining any type of logic. I fear that with all of your great knowledge, you have made your own preferences for what is right for you and become fanatical.

I may not be a doctor, a blogger, or a distinguished gentlemen, but I am a consumer; just like you. Companies know us very well, and you are proof that anyone can become hooked on a product or brand.

Not all products work right for everyone, that is why they choose, what is best for themselves. I use technology as a “power user” and I have my own views towards you statement, “Get a Mac, buy an iPad and/or iPhone (I’ve just reviewed them both on my blog) and you’ll catch the bug of fanaticism for an amazing one of a kind company that does things the way we all wish the whole world did things.”

This whole blog was a setup from the start, write anything bad about Apple, and fanatics flock to defend to keep the illusions alive because reality, can be scary.

I mean this will all respect to you and to the author of this post (this is such an old article), but when I see statements like the ones you and other fanatics of any brand makes, it paints a picture of devolution in some sense of the word for us a human beings and our interaction with technology. Still I feel that I can learn much from your experiences with Apple products. By the way, nice blog.

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Chanson de Roland 25. August 2010 at 8:51 pm

Steve Jobs is a genius at marketing and values it greatly, but the key to making Apple’s marketing so powerful and forming such group loyalty is making the best products, products that, because of the superiority of their aesthetics, features, and function, provide a great user’s experience that is better than the user’s experience for any competing product. That is the key. Otherwise, it is just clever marketing, and a lot of people can do clever marketing.

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-hh 25. August 2010 at 9:55 pm

Creating a relatable association is clearly a beneficial strategy. However, its also clear that this marketing has strongly used allegory, to transmit the product message. From there, simply having a solid product then creates a positive feedback loop of customer satisfaction and snowballing through personal word of mouth. Its a very clever (and effective) leveraging of marketing resources – - but the key remains that it can’t and won’t happen without having a product that lives up to the hype.

-hh

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elgarak 25. August 2010 at 10:25 pm

You’re flat out wrong about the “Mac Vs. PC” ads. Those actors do not portray users. They’re the MACHINES. The computers. And a lot of people (even Mac users) like John Hodgman (the PC) more than Justin Long. Which is no accident. Because the ads were specifically written to NOT attack the machines and their manufacturers, or the users, but the big bad entity that does not allow (by incompetence) user and machines to reach their full potential: Microsoft. Apple needed to take this approach since they do not actually compete with Microsoft (their Mac OS X is not allowed to run on PCs) and their hardware was not anymore distinctly different from PC hardware.

It’s also fairly telling that Microsoft adopted the “I’m a PC” slogan and attach it to their users, while Mac users did not adopt the “I’m a Mac” slogan for themselves. Also, reading blogs and forums, the decision to buy an Apple product is mostly told as a decision reached by rational research into product, their capability and total costs, whereas the decisions on buying competing products are often made along your “Don’t want to be in that group” lines: It’s bought because it is NOT and Apple. Sure, this is just my anecdotal observation. Maybe you should start a research project to verify this. I’m willing to bet that you will not verify your claims.

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Roger Dooley
Twitter: rogerdooley
26. August 2010 at 7:29 am

Elgarek, I think the Mac Guy – PC Guy ads work on a variety of levels. Sure, John Hodgman is likable, but beneath the humor these ads are really quite brutal. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because Apple needs to emphasize the differences without boring the audience. Nobody wants to watch ads that have a narrator reciting statistics about malware attacks or the opinions of user interface experts. Political attack usually take a direct approach, and are usually annoying enough to cause viewers to switch channels. Conversely, I’ve stopped fast-forwarding through commercials when I spotted a new Mac-PC ad. A brilliant campaign, groups or not.

Microsoft’s “I’m a PC” is a decent response. They need to rally their own group and fire up group loyalty. Portraying Windows users as attractive, smart, creative professionals is a good way to do that, even if it lacks the elegant simplicity and humor of Apple’s campaign.

I don’t think most people buy a non-Apple product because it is “not an Apple.” I didn’t buy an iPhone because of AT&T. (I’d been on AT&T’s network for two years, and would almost certainly have bought an iPhone had it been available through Verizon.) People who buy a PC vs a Mac don’t do it because they hate Apple. I’d say initial cost, compatibility of owned software, and general inertia are the most common issues for individuals who buy another PC.

Roger

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Scotty 25. August 2010 at 11:05 pm

Hey Roger,

Interesting article – how do you explain your statement:

“they will likely cultivate a dislike for other brand groups”

Hmm, could it have something to do with personal experience? Ever bought a product that was a lemon? How did you feel? Did you recommend it to your friends or buy another thinking it was an improvement?

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Savage 26. August 2010 at 12:27 am

Take a look at what these guys have to say:

MacDailyNews Take: Forget the bullshit from a “marketing expert” who can’t even grasp what, not who, the actors represented in Apple’s “Get a Mac” campaign.

It’s really quite simple, but seemingly impossible for others to replicate reliably: Apple CEO Steve Jobs turns customers into legions of fanatical evangelists by conceiving and building wonderfully useful products that marry beautiful hardware with brilliant software. Apple’s products scream “attention to detail,” thereby delighting users who can’t wait for the next innovation.

People aren’t stupid. They can clearly see that one company continually leads the tech industry while a bunch of also-rans scramble to copy.

That’s why all PC user interfaces try to look like a Mac. That’s why most portable media players (the ones that are left) look like the iPod models that inspired them. That’s why most “smartphones” today look like last year’s iPhone. And that’s why the flood of tablets on the way will all look like different-sized iPads.

We prefer to invest our money in the real thing from a company that has proven to care deeply about the products they produce. We’re “fanatical evangelists” because Apple is fanatical about their products.

Go use the products, Roger. Then you’ll get it.

Now. what do you make of that?

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jmmx 26. August 2010 at 12:53 am

I agree with Tom – your article ignores the incredible technological differences in Apple’s products.

- People flocked to the iPods in large part because they made life easy. It was easy to download your music, and easy to navigate.

- People liked the original Macs because they were easier to use than DOS. (Remember DOS)

- The iPhone is still the easiest phone to use.

- I used to work on Windows computers (as software engineer and tech writer) and would typically loose close an hour of productivity every single day (frequently even more) to system failures. At home my Mac (for the most part) just worked. Why is this NOT a good reason to be a fan of their products?

Additionally, Apple has a fanatical attention to detail in all aspects of the design – functional and aesthetic. What is wrong with appreciating this?

It is true that there have been some appeals to the us vs them mentality, but your choice of ads is a bit cherry-picking.

What is the most numerous, iconic and ubiquitous ads of Apples? The bi-color dancing iPod ads. No us vs them here – just pure fun.

Yet you ignore these in your article. (OOPS!)

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Joecinda 26. August 2010 at 3:00 am

There is more going on here. Henri Tajfel’s experiments focused on “meaningless differences” between groups. While your hypothesis is correct, your discounting the fact that in your comparison of computers, there are very significant differences. Do a simple experiment and call tech support on almost any brand of PC and then call Apple Care support. You’ll quickly experience the difference and see why many Apple users are devoted to their Apple machines.

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Roger Dooley
Twitter: rogerdooley
26. August 2010 at 7:10 am

Joecinda, my use of “meaningless differences” wasn’t to imply that the differences between Apple products and other brands was meaningless, but rather that it is surprisingly easy to create distinctions that divide people into groups. Even when the distinctions were arbitrary, the behavior of the group members is altered in ways that matter. Groups can be formed in many ways – one’s nationality or ethnicity, one’s favorite NFL team, one’s politics, and so on. All of these groups influence behavior and the way we think about members of other groups. While most of these groups take either an accident of birth or long exposure to develop, the startling finding by Tajfel was how quickly he could create group loyalty.

Roger

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MacMatte 26. August 2010 at 3:07 am

Not all Mac users are happy. See the 1,100+ petitions for Mac users who cannot get an Apple desktop with a matte, non-reflective screen, etc.

http://macmatte.wordpress.com/comment-page-1/#comments

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spielbrot
Twitter: spielbrot
26. August 2010 at 3:13 am

Actually, he doesn’t.

When will you guys accept that a majority of the Mac users never seen the ads (they’ve only ran in US remember which is about half of Apples market), nor do they know who Steve Jobs is or what he is saying. They buy and use Macs, iPods, iPhones and iPads, because they likes the products. And when you are happy with a product, you tell your friends…

That is the basic of all marketing: Make good products that people like. Products and sollutions that make it easier and better than before. I say innovation and design is the two major marketing assets of Apple. They Microsofts failure with Vista made people look around.

Apples marketing campaign and Steve Jobs hasn’t made their customers into legions of fanatical evangelists. It is nonsens. They have the highest customer satisfaction, according to surveys. That includes taking good care of relations.
Every brand have their evangelists, but they are not representing the general average customer.

I know a lot of people using Apple products. They are not fanatical in any way or connected to some sort of higher cause. They just like them.

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Steve Bush 26. August 2010 at 5:54 am

You make some good points. I remember seeing a show on 60 minutes or so many years ago where a teacher taught about discrimination using blue eyed children vs. brown eyed children. Sort of similar. The problem is, the Apple fanatics became fanatics long before the get a Mac ads. In fact, many before there were virtually ANY ads. But they did constantly hear or read about how superior Windows PC’s were and how Mac’s were just “toys”. I think these fanatics were actually created by THAT culture at the time and gave the Mac users a sense of an “us against them” mentality. Similar too how you find a long standing regional pride in the South that came from decades of being told they were inferior to the intellectuals in the North.

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Renaldo 26. August 2010 at 6:33 am

Unfortunately this article fails to take into account the actual course of events that led Apple to their marketing strategy. By 2003 it was clear that Apple had a better *product* with its Mac computers, the problem was that Windows completely dominated the landscape, and the Windows ecosystem made it very difficult to consider alternatives. The challenge for Apple was how to make it clear to potential customers that it had a much better product and that it was worth the effort and money to switch platforms.

This article makes another big error in not recognizing that it was decidedly not “Us vs Them” in the Apple marketing approach, but rather a focus on the products: the Mac is better than a PC. If Apple had done an Us vs Them approach, if it got into trash-talking its competitors, as Microsoft has lamely attempted again and again, I would not have become a strong Apple customer. The Mac vs PC commercials are cute, and they are personified computers, but they always only portray the distinctions between the computers (accurately, I might add). Apple lets its products speak for themselves, and the focus is always on the products.

Apple understands the distinction between the product focus and the Us vs Them tactic, which this article doesn’t. This is also why Apple is successful, and this article isn’t.

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O 26. August 2010 at 7:52 am

Revealed: How you can skip the article above and really understand what’s going on.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

– R. Buckminster Fuller

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rolf
Twitter: rolfneugmail.com
26. August 2010 at 8:08 am

Dooley?

are you fully in there, in your head?
your logic is flawed. your conclusions are hasty.
your motive is dubious.
are you getting paid by Apple competitor to write such trivial nonsense and disguise it as scientific study?

for a marketing man like you, you surely do not understand much.
but don’t feel bad, most analysts, marketing, business or otherwise,
do not get Apple.

it’s simple. Apple defies logic you idiots!
heard of Gestalt? Zeitgeist?
Apple defines those.
they have passion.
for people.
not b.s. or hype like most of you irresponsible journalists/researchers.

do yourself a favor. everyone, even decade-old windows-centric fanatics, are turning to Apple. not because of its cultist fervor, but its perfect understanding of human emotion. it is not manipulative, it simply talks to us humans. it is you marketers who wrote tons of books and cost corporations millions, due to fear of losing your jobs: you are as dispensable in reality, as IT people! for Steve Jobs, was quoted saying Apple does not do any marketing research, they just produce what they would love to use, hence circumventing expensive, superfluous studies – to put it simply.

marketers think they own the world, that they are the chosen people, like lawyers or doctors who play God, but without the “underling” hard workers who produce no b.s. at least, so you guys have something tangible to sell, without the users who pay you to survive, you are nothing.

you focus on the wrong side of things. you have no clue. you hide in too much data! maybe you need psychological help from Hawaii’s Ho’oponopono! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ho'oponopono)

in any case, please stop taking your readers for granted, respect them a little bit at least, and get a life, or go screw with someone else – yourself maybe? sorry, but the world is full of b.s. and political correctness, no thing real. enough is enough. if you can’t do the job, change careers.

meanwhile, i’ll read other, more serious analysts…

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Tim 26. August 2010 at 8:14 am

Have you ever actually used an Apple product?
Perhaps the loyalty comes from the fact that they are simply easier to use than competing products. Perhaps the USER EXPERIENCE is better. Why do people buy anything that has a better user experience? Why buy a BMW when a Ford will do the same thing? The experience is better. It is better to drive, looks nicer, has better service…Why buy artisan bread when white bread does the same thing? Why go to a fancy restaurant when McDonald’s does the same thing?

You are looking at a single variable when in fact there are multiple variables as to why people pick one product over another.

Here is an interesting experiment to try: Give two consumers the choice (with cost not being a consideration) between a Mac and a PC, between an iPod and a Zune, between an iPhone and a…whatever cell phone you can think of.

What would the choice be? I suspect that a majority would choose the Apple product.

Now, to compare Apple users to the folks in an experiment that tried to explain genocide is a bit of a stretch in my opinion.

Also, your second sentence is incorrect. Apple was a billion dollar company with a loyal following before the Mac came along. Remember the Apple II?

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Robin Azéma 26. August 2010 at 9:48 am

Haha, I love this article! I’m French, my English is unperfect but I can say one thing : lol! Apple’s fanatics’s comments are crazy, I’ve got an iPhone, I like it, it’s really a good product, but it does not convert me as a stupid fanatic. Your comments aren’t objectives fanatic men, this article is just true.

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Tim 26. August 2010 at 11:16 am

Hahahaha all the fans of MacDailyNews coming here to comment about how wrong you are is quite hilarious, and kind of proving the entire article. Apple is so tied into their identity that they have to defend their love of it (and make it out to be a rational thing).

An attack on apple is an attack on all its evangelists too, you should have realized this Roger ;)

Anyway, I think Google is doing a fantastic job using this strategy, at their recent Google IO event every few minutes they took stabs at the iPhone and created a big us vs them thing with iPhone users on one side and Android users on the other.

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Roger Dooley
Twitter: rogerdooley
27. August 2010 at 11:02 am

Actually, Tim, I viewed this post as a compliment to Apple’s marketing acumen rather than an attack on the company or product. I don’t think Apple would have become the biggest tech firm (in terms of market cap) if their products, support, and marketing weren’t all top-notch.

Roger

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Z 26. August 2010 at 11:29 am

The comments here really show how fanatical/us vs. them Apple users really are.

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Savage 26. August 2010 at 11:53 am

Just a small word to remind you that it is forbidden to feed the troll upstairs…

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Elder Norm 26. August 2010 at 12:47 pm

Tom, You are right and you are wrong. Marketing sells….. mostly crap stuff that cannot stand on its own. My thought. :-)

“with the most trivial of distinctions, he could create artificial loyalties to one group, who would then discriminate against those not in that group.”

—- By this do you mean Microsoft??? Their sales guy is sure that good advertising is the difference between Vulvo and a Pinto.

And”I agree that product differences are important, Tom. But just having what some would call a better product doesn’t guarantee that many of your customers will become fanatical devotees who evangelize your product to everyone who will listen.”

—- is totally correct. But if you build crap and market it well…. there is a good chance that eventually people will quit believing anything you say…. Just a thought.

I use both a Mac and a PC. And I can tell you which one I would rather buy and support myself!!! Ads totally ignored… The Apple hardware and software are just much superior. Unless you believe that ALL MARKETING EXPERTS are alike and none are better than any others. Right?? Its all just marketing. ????

Last thought,,,, I bought an MP3 player. It worked but it was a real pain to use and to change music on… I actually bought 3 so I could listen to different music with out changing….. Then I bought an iPod….. case closed. Now I have two… one small for jogging and one big for videos etc….

Just a thought here, but when all you know is sales… you sell whatever you have and do not care if its crap… If you love making great products… they sell themselves.

Just a thought,
en

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Roger Dooley
Twitter: rogerdooley
26. August 2010 at 1:30 pm

Elder Norm, I think even great products need good marketing to achieve their full potential. Sure, sometimes a product will “go viral,” but even the most amazing luxury and high performance products need to market. And if Apple thought it could do without TV ads, I’m sure they would eliminate them.

Roger

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Elder Norm 26. August 2010 at 1:07 pm

Roger, I hope most of us do not come off as brain fogged apple cultist who have no power to think for our selves…

You said, ” Groups can be formed in many ways – one’s nationality or ethnicity, one’s favorite NFL team, one’s politics, and so on. All of these groups influence behavior and the way we think about members of other groups. While most of these groups take either an accident of birth or long exposure to develop, the startling finding by Tajfel was how quickly he could create group loyalty.”

— I think you have a good grasp of the basics of marketing and people. Two different sellers of milk, which makes on successful and the other not? Marketing, in many cases.

But I think the thing that you and many analysts are missing is that Apple really is a different kind of company. And if its just marketing and all hype, then it must really be magic cause people that used windows PCs for years are trying an Apple Mac and converting. And 99% or more do not go back. PERIOD. Maybe its all the great hype, I am sure Steve Ballmer the top sales guy will agree. Of course, the Zune just does not sell. Must be bad advertising.

If the only tool you have to sell is marketing… I can understand why you see no other differences. Many analysts today are in the same boat. They look at numbers vs stock etc and predict that Apple will fail and that Microsoft will crush them… Yet somehow that is not happening. A niche company now is larger than the largest, and growing.

I think that many many people are seeing that there is a difference. A real tangible difference in both sales, service, and hardware. Most Apple fans are fans because they are users, not marketing converts. Apple continues to have the highest product satisfaction rating of any other maker vs any product that they sell….

Must be marketing. There really is no Blue screen of death…. That is all just hype.

Just a thought.
en,

PS, on my previous comment I said “Tom” but meant Roger. Oppps.

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rolf
Twitter: rolfneugmail.com
26. August 2010 at 1:17 pm

to Z at 11:29

check your brain fellow human.

your simpleton logic that anything “shows how fanatical us vs them Apple users really are” is dangerous. it’s the precedent to the Spanish Inquisition in the Middle Ages or the reasoning behind burning Witches in the US Salem hunt.

it’s how neo-nazis & kuklux clansters think. it’s all about jumping to conclusions without any regard for creative thinking, thinking for yourself. to be or not to be, is to think beyond droids.

now whose fanatic? your thinking is tyrannical.
or at least, it’s routine, robotic. you’re just repeating what most media says, or the anti-macsters, or the shallow journalists who think only as far as to get paid, or to get hits like this article by Rogers, through controversy.

as for Tim at 11:16
have you people ever tasted caviar? or a real woman? ever been to a real country with real standards of living? ever seen the real world beyond borders? you wouldn’t go back to your current life.

Apple’s products are constantly attacked, for since 1980s and when bad press is unjustified, yes, indeed, CEOs like Dell who called Apple dead etc., are irresponsible as Apple could’ve disappeared in 1996…have some sense of history and be realistic about Microsoftianism and how it screwed up the world more than it helped.

if technology is to advance, if humans are to evolve, surely Apple pushed the envelope more than anyone. but you look like a teen who has no life experience yet, which is the real reason why the Dot Com Boom busted, as it was controlled by youngsters with ideas without substance.

and the world economy is in its low phase due to the older generation too, though certainly not for the corporate management of the likes of Apple. Apple, if any co. in the US, is the ultimate example to be proud of. they listen to the customer more than anyone. produce mostly quality. give much more for your money’s worth. are more ecologically responsible etc.

all the idiots in washington should consult steve jobs, oracle, facebook etc. for their ceo’s tactics on improving the economy.

anyway, why bother saying anything just for the sake of getting attention, as most of this generation’s wasting time with idle chatter. if we spent less time bullshitting in the West the Eastern countries wouldn’t have overtaken us in every sense. we should use our brains, our creativity to get back on track.

if i’m too serious, well, it’s because we’re unserious, that the US is bankrupt. it is our generation that spoilt it for you kids, as you inherited debt from us. we handicapped you before you start your studies and careers. let’s be serious for once. otherwise, we shouldn’t be allowed to complain about China, India, Brazil etc.

Apple’s not perfect. but they had far fewer flops than anyone. plus, which co. has ever produced more than a single life/society-changing product or service? Apple has already achieved it five times and is coming with a sixth! that must be appreciated.

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Renaldo 26. August 2010 at 2:06 pm

Rolf has a point with the “Us vs Them” marketing ploy and fanaticism. The kind of marketing Roger is describing above works when it fills in for a product that lacks substance or is fluff. The Republican presidential campaign was a good example of this strategy. The Republicans had so little to go on for its own party platform in terms of substance, it had to resort to a massive “Us vs Them” campaign against the Democrats and Obama, in which the only thing they offered were scare tactics, fearmongering, and mudslinging personal invectives (“Pall’ing around with terrorists”, etc etc). The Republicans continue this strategy to this day. When you have nothing to offer, then a powerful “Us vs Them” campaign can replace the lack of a solid product in convincing less educated people.

Companies with solid products and services–the Apples, the BMWs, the IBMs, etc etc–don’t need Us vs Them marketing, the products sell themselves.

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rolf
Twitter: rolfneugmail.com
26. August 2010 at 2:22 pm

Renaldo!
finally someone who understand the issues.

Renaldo gets the danger of simplifying reasoning. it is the death of democracy or freedom. it is what pres. Bush used, since he lacked a brain. it is what governments or institutions do when there’s nothing inside, just hot air from loud mouths or liars.

it’s the “Volksverdummung” strategy used to control people since humans existed. the church, later kings, then governments & cults, now industries use brainwashing to hide behind their crap.

as Ronaldo says, it’s Fear that pushes people to say or do stupid things.

how can life be so silly. you put yourself in someone’s shoes who has been accused. just because someone does not agree with one’s government does not make him an “evil doer” but all the more a patriot, as he/she defends the democracy, not jingoism.

just because someone sleeps over the most gorgeous person’s house, does not mean one slept with them. let’s stop jumping to conclusions, it’s silly & dangerous.

spreading fud, is no laughing matter. it affects not just the firms or causes, but many people’s lives.

jobs should only be for serious people in their field. they should have talent. in journalism, they should also say the truth, not sell junk, as full of leaks as the Gulf disaster of late.

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Carl 26. August 2010 at 2:44 pm

Rendaldo, the 2008 campaign was a mirror image of the “Anybody but Bush” campaing for….ummm….that guy that wasn’t Bush four years prior.

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Pablo Edwards 26. August 2010 at 6:19 pm

He certainly has created his own culture and following. I think this post hits on some of the real magic Jobs has pulled out of his hat!

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Renaldo 26. August 2010 at 6:31 pm

“He certainly has created his own culture and following.”

…especially when you consider that he gives interviews only once every two years or so, and that he makes public appearances only once or twice annually.

The more interesting aspect is that folks like you pin the runaway success of a company with some 24,000 employees on a single person who has been gravely ill for several years and who rarely makes public appearances.

Is this rational? Perhaps there is something more to this company’s success than a CEO that the American media has turned into some mythically charismatic leader?

Or perhaps the American media is the problem?

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Annie Mueller
Twitter: anniemueller
27. August 2010 at 7:17 am

Interesting discussion here.
I love the article, Roger. I think what some folks might have overlooked is that you’re not saying the ONLY thing Apple does to be successful is to create an “us vs. them” mentality. Certainly Apple also 1) produces great products, with intense design work on the graphical user appeal, 2) provides customer service at a level vastly higher than many competitive companies and 3) innovates and tweaks on a regular basis.

What those 3 characteristics give them, then, is something solid that makes people want to identify with them, want to be part of the “Apple Tribe,” to put it in Godin’s terms. And they’ve done a fantastic job at that, as you pointed out. I don’t see any reason why they should be ashamed of/defend that approach. Obviously they’re a for-profit company and they’ve got marketing strategies.

Anyway, to step beyond the Apple vs Microsoft example, the concept of Us v Them is just interesting and spot on. Especially relevant, I think, with so much marketing occurring online via social networks, etc. It’s easy to find and “belong” to a group online now in multiple ways. Good thoughts for all marketers. Thanks for the nicely researched & written article.

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Scott Bourne 27. August 2010 at 5:23 pm

I rarely find the comments on any blog post interesting but this time I do – and here’s why. It’s proof that Roger is right. The fanboys are outraged at being exposed so they attack Roger for telling it like it is. The article is well-researched and linked to and promoted by Guy Kawasaki – who should know a thing or two about how Apple works. Nicely done Roger. And screw the fanboys who can’t handle the truth.

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rolf
Twitter: rolfneugmail.com
27. August 2010 at 6:39 pm

to Scott Bourne at 5:23pm.

wow. screw the fanboys.
you do not have to be a fan to be fair, objective, just, logical, or smart.
your argument & defense is typical of the vast majority of the population in any country: 100 iQ or less. totally average mind.

rogers for being a marketing expert, understand very little of it.

did you guys ever think about why apple is the only tech firm basically in the black, profiting, not losing money, or why it is so far ahead of all others?! that proves apple knows best about marketing, not rogers or his fan boys.

it is pathetic of you guys. why break up the genius behind everything apple does if it’s the one co. in our country that proves itself correctly. if only we would mimic its quality our economy could compete and save our asses.

the reason you people are so blind, is because you are just as fanatically opposed to apple as their fans are of their products. you still don’t get it. it’s not apple fans like, it’s the quality. the zeitgeist & gestalt of its parts. it’s more than products. it’s culture. why screw yourself with the competition when its user experience sucks and all its so-called innovations are basically stolen from apple?!

it has nothing ado with fanaticism.
it has everything to do with being the best.

which is what you people fail at miserably.
if you’re so disgusted with apple or don’t like its ways,
at least bring some logical arguments to the table.

otherwise, you’re screwing your own economy, country, yourselves.

set the smart example, stop bitching, and certainly, do better, than apple.
all you big mouths, are all so successful because of YOUR ways, right?!

shame on you.

the country needs brains, guts, creativity instead.

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Renaldo 27. August 2010 at 6:43 pm

Well Scott, based on your relentless praise of Roger’s piece, I decided to read it again, and I’m sorry to say that my conclusion is the same–I consider it pure jibberish. And no, because we beg to differ does not prove Roger is right, and no, just because we disagree does not make me into a “fanboy”. To jump to these conclusions is just as silly as Roger’s article.

As much as Roger twists and squirms to try to convince us that he’s complimenting Apple’s marketing techniques, he can’t hide the fact that his logic–and his conclusions–are so wrong that it’s hard to take them seriously. Are you really playing a compliment by comparing a company’s marketing strategy to the Third Reich and holocausts? Get real! Geez, I’m not that dumb.

My point (and others here) is that Apple actually does the opposite of what Roger claims in his article, that they obsessively focus on their products and services to gain loyal customers, and NOT that they resort to Us vs. Them tactics. Kawasaki’s evangelism, now some 20 years old (!!), was not to foster Us vs Them, but rather to creatively harness Apple’s strengths–its customers–to gain attention for its insanely great products, which were being ignored in the marketplace.

As I’ve said, Us vs. Them is for organizations that do not have strong products, and so have to divert attention to values, people (“Let’s get personal”), and other intangibles. Verizon has resorted to this because of its lack of having anything to compete with the iPhone, Microsoft obviously attempts to use it, and most certainly the Republican Party has mastered this strategy (to the point of scaringly becoming neo-fascistic). Hey, isn’t Obama a Muslim?

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Westminister 27. August 2010 at 6:50 pm

Question, how do you explain the vehement support back in the day when the commercials were not so prevalent as they are today? Then there are those like myself that do not even watch commercial TV.

I think aside from its design philosophy, it has to do with giving people what they want, sometimes before they realise what it is in terms of technology.

example: back when the iPod was introduced ithe mp3 players that came before it and at the time, were offering 32mb – 64mb – 128mb – 256mb – 512mb and maybe 1GB, costing from $49 to $199, and even $299.

Apple simply came into the market and gave you 5gb – 10gb. Then they coupled it with a content service the iTunes store.

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teral 27. August 2010 at 8:00 pm

Actually the apple advertising is not aimed to attract more consumers but keep the actual users, a kind of reasuring creed to not leave the sect. Otherwise they cannot sell them overpriced (altough nice)products with sky high markups.

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TheMacMommy
Twitter: TheMacMommy
28. August 2010 at 1:29 am

Wow! This discussion is great. I really, really, look forward to reading the Ford vs. Chevy vs. HUMMER opinions. Where are they? Maybe they’re busy Fahrvergnügen-ing? Maybe it’s just a Jeep thing. Come on, people. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an i. Can’t we all just get @long?

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Brad Lindsay 28. August 2010 at 9:48 am

I agree with many of the comments here.

It’s not the marketing that has made Apple so successful. Sure their clever marketing has helped. But it’s the great products that Apple create that makes it stand out from the crowd. It’s a profound understanding of what people want from their products.

Steve Job’s genius is in wanting to create products that are productive, they look great and they’re ALWAYS easy to use. In other words Apple creates ‘Insanely Great Products’…

More folks are now beginning to realise this.

The iPod was one of Apple’s first real mass market products that stood out from the crowd with it’s ease of use and convenience. Theses were followed by the iPhone, next the iPad.

All these great consumer products are bringing more people into Apple’s marketing funnel. These same folks are the ones that are converting from the PC to the Mac as they have been exposed to Apple’s great products and customer support.

Have you not noticed that Apple has the highest customer satisfaction rating of any other technology manufacturer out there?

You have also neglected to mention Apple’s Stores. These create another great user experience for the public who can wonder in and sample Apple’s products and obtain great customer advise.

Once people have started using a Mac they soon come to realise what they have been missing all those years. This was exactly a comment I received from a person who purchased an Apple MacBook Pro from me on eBay!

So once again it’s not the us/them style of marketing that has created Apple’s fanatic following, it’s the great easy to use and great user experience that Apple’s products provide together with an unrivalled shopping experience and customer support that is drawing more and more folks into Apple’s marketing funnel.

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Penelope Singer 28. August 2010 at 1:22 pm

I think what’s missing here is recognition of the distinction between “us vs. them” and “this vs. that”.

Us vs. them tends toward keeping people in the group. Because it’s about the people, it’s personal. This vs. that tends more towards bringing new people into the group by keeping the focus away from judgements of self identity. You can’t make things personal and not expect people to take it personally.

Essentially, us vs. them is about closing doors, while this vs. that is about opening them.

An interesting aside is that sometimes this vs. that brings people into the group, and they themselves turn it into us vs. them.

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Brad Lindsay 28. August 2010 at 2:15 pm

I agree with many of the comments here.

It’s not the marketing that has made Apple so successful. Sure their clever marketing has helped, but it’s the great products that Apple create that makes it stand out from the crowd. Apple has a profound understanding of what people want from their products.

Steve Job’s genius is in always striving to create products that are productive, look great and most importantly are easy to use. In other words Apple creates ‘Insanely Great Products’…

More folks are now beginning to realize this.

The iPod was one of Apple’s first real mass market products that stood out from the crowd with it’s ease of use and convenience. Theses were followed by the iPhone, next the iPad.

All these great consumer products are bringing more people into Apple’s marketing funnel. These same folks are the ones that are converting from the PC to the Mac as they have been exposed to Apple’s great products and customer support.

Have you not noticed that Apple has the highest customer satisfaction rating of any other technology manufacturer out there?

You have also neglected to mention Apple’s Stores. These create another great user experience for the public who can wonder in and sample Apple’s products and obtain great customer advise.

Once people have started using a Mac they soon come to realise what they have been missing all those years. This was exactly a comment I received from a person who purchased an Apple MacBook Pro from me on eBay!

So once again it’s not the us/them style of marketing that has created Apple’s fanatic following, it’s the great easy to use and great user experience that Apple’s products provide together with an unrivalled shopping experience and customer support that is drawing more and more folks into Apple’s marketing funnel.

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Stanford @ PushingSocial
Twitter: pushingsocial
28. August 2010 at 5:02 pm

I thought that there was no greater sin than being accused of practicing “Marketing”. I was wrong…

It is much more scandalous to being accused of being persuaded by Marketing!

Oh well, Apple has made more money today than all of us “experts” will probably make in our lifetimes. I’ll wait for my interview with Steve Jobs to ask his opinion :)

Oh..by the way – you can probably better decipher Jobs’ Modus Operandi by analyzing Pixar vs. NEXT. I’ll be happy to write the Guest Post for you Roger ;)

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Jamiel Cotman 28. August 2010 at 5:40 pm

All of the below comments confirm the point of this article. Each of them run like this, ‘I hate this article because its not right. Apple does not succeed because of neuromarketing it succeeds because it sells great products, products that are better than others!’ These folk are examples of neuoro, or psychological marketing…they, like the article mentions, have a baseless attraction to the product, because of how they were marketed to. They, like the article mentions, use the said company product as a means to be a part of a group. And what group is that, the group the article mentions, the, ‘We are different…better…smarter’ group. Its not the product guys, its the group on the other side of the spectrum inviting you to join them, that has you hooked. This, as the article mentions, is neuromarketing. And all of you are its victims!

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Bob Marsicano 28. August 2010 at 6:38 pm

This love for Apple is good to start a conversation.
When at a conference I spot an interesting girl with a Mac on her legs I start with: “You must be one of the good girl”
She obvously reply with a smiling “Why?” and I start the story of Apple marketers that pay movie makers to show the “good” ones equipped with Macs as in “Legally blonde”, a movie ever girl has seen.
And the trick works … every time!

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Proud_republican 28. August 2010 at 9:51 pm

I know one brand that people are NOT fanatically ranting and raving about: this shitty blog!!

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Diego Guadarrama
Twitter: Diegoguada
29. August 2010 at 9:00 am

I have to disagree with what Dr. K says. It’s true that apple makes great products and it’s a huge factor of their success but what about Coke vs Pepsi? They taste pretty much the same, according to infamous blind taste tests, and still they both have a very loyal fan base. In this case it’s not so much the product, but the us vs them theory. If this applies to such a low involvement product then it could possibly be used for any publicly consumable product.

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Chase Adams
Twitter: REALchaseadams
30. August 2010 at 7:16 am

I’m an Apple Fanboy as much as any other Apple “supporters” that have posted, but I have to admit…the past few years I’ve found what Roger said to be SPOT on.

And as @Jamiel said, the people who are saying “I’m not being marketed to, it’s that the product is so much better” are point-in-case examples. Thanks for this great tip! Apple is absolutely a Neuromarketer.

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McGarrell Reilly 30. August 2010 at 11:37 am

Cant believe that ad (“1984″ commercial) is made in 1984 !!!
Apple is more creative compare to other hardware manufacturers and their products are better (fast and silent) if you are a designer. But due to ‘wrong’ price strategy and ‘closed’ developer environment. Apple is taken over by PC.

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Dirk 31. August 2010 at 6:08 am

It is a factor in keeping a loyal user group. Apple was better in producing user interfaces. And Apple always had a very loyal user group.

But not only Apple uses that group feeling. A number of users of open source will feel they effectively defend their rights against property software and that cooperation results in a better product. But that may also let them feel a member of a group.

And MS succeeds in giving their users the feeling they are the only ones. Or at least the only ones to be take seriously. That their users are part of the only big group. That it is pointless trying anything not associated with that big group. And there is a little panic every time something that is not a part gets out and reaches people in the group. And they associate it with a computer. (Netbooks, smart phones, …)

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Jim Davis 31. August 2010 at 8:11 am

I think it’s interesting that so many of the Mac faithful have left posts stating that it’s the Mac’s “obvious superiority” as a product that make them Apple users. Apple has has over 20 years for it’s Macintosh platform to overtake the Windows dominance in the PC industry. If it were so blatantly superior, I think the contest would be at least a little closer by now. The fact of the matter is that there is not a great difference in product usability between Macs and Windows PCs. And, this post is coming from a Windows hater.

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rolf
Twitter: rolfneugmail.com
31. August 2010 at 9:05 am

Jim Davis @ 8:11

ge your facts right before you open your mouth.
apple IS superior.
windough is just DougWare. for the masses.
if you look at the history, you’ll notice Microsoft monopolized the market, and that Bill Gates initially planned to do with MacOS what he did with Windows.
Windows is only big through licensing to all manufacturers.
if you missed the math too, not just history, you’ll see how that is exponential.

you have a 3rd problem: you are blind.
MacOSX is much superior.
95% innovations in Windows are bad copies of MacOS.

if you can’t think back beyond 6 months, like most of the new generation, you should just keep it to yourself, not ridicule yourself and devalue blogs…

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Stew Shaw
Twitter: StewNoBS
31. August 2010 at 9:20 am

As an Apple convert from the earliest days of the Macintosh I well remember the derision I had to suffer from my best mate, an IBM CSE (service tech). “Toy” anyone? Regardless, Mac users joined the tribe right out of the gate. No persuasion was needed. It was simply enough to be “different.” Oh, and the GUI was great for the creatives too.

Many comments above attribute this phenomenon to an inherent superiority in Apple’s products – whether through design or functionality or whatever. Yet converts can easily be blinded to flaws. Example – today I was surprised to discover 2 of the videos I shot on my 7-day old iPhone 4 rendered upside down in some apps (including Apple’s iMovie HD). Turns out this has only happened since iOS4, and rather than being a fault, older apps haven’t caught up to the current implementation of the file coding spec. But forum users are demanding a fix. As they are for the device’s flawed proximity sensor, and antennagate, and so on.

Doesn’t seem to stop the sales. For hoards of young women where I work (hospital) an iPhone is a must-have component of their social landscape. A fashion accessory, if you will. Yet chances are high that they use no more than a fraction of its features. Many nurses aren’t geeky.

These days I’m not too much of a fan of tribalism. Seems to me to be a flaw in the way we’re wired. Milked for all it’s worth as an element of commercial and sporting competition (one and the same thing?) though. Seeking and fighting enemies surely is a zero sum game eventually.
– Stew (written on my Toshiba!)

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Diego Guadarrama
Twitter: Diegoguada
31. August 2010 at 10:13 am

JimDavis,

Actually Apple has more market capitalization than Microsoft. This is obviously due to high prices but still it is winning part of the game. But you also have to consider that Apple has a mentality of keeping their system closed, whereas Microsoft always wanted their software everywhere. And obviously a well designed open system is preferred by software and peripheral makers which made Microsoft the giant it is today. So Apple is limited by their own mentality, but it is working marvelously for them.

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Roger Dooley
Twitter: rogerdooley
1. September 2010 at 10:52 am

Dirk, I think the open source comparison is a good one. While open source software doesn’t usually use marketing to build loyalty, the practice of letting the users themselves create and improve the product is the ultimate form of team-building. Linux devotees are no less fanatical than Apple fans, though 99% of Linux users (like me) just use it because it works makes doing certain things easier than Windows.

Roger

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Carole S 7. September 2010 at 3:30 pm

Hello I stopped reading all the comments (my bad) because the commenters went off on a tangent about the technology versus the neuropsycology of your article and I came to your site to get a better handle on neuro web design. You were talking about how socialization and the importance of being in a group one way or the other drives product sales. I get that-look at those who love iphones and those who love droids. It’s a group thing and that is the brilliance of neuromarketing that Steve Jobs understands and pays people well to research the topic. I was a PC all the way – I love my ipod, my iphone and I will get an ipad and guess what probably a MAC. My persona has changed because of the ipod. I am not afraid to admit that and when APPLE launched the ipod they knew it would be the start of a neuro-psych change in a lot of people’s minds.

I think the iphone was the easiest phone I ever learned to use, yet one day an APPLE tech made a mistake while helping me and I lost everything – most was recoverable but photos dear to me were not. Do I hate APPLE – no I love my iphone even with the glitches it occasionally has.

I love your site can’t wait to learn more to help my husband and I with our web site and business.

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Roberts Howard
Twitter: http://studioproducts.com
8. September 2010 at 4:58 pm

The article and the examples were useful and germane, but what this article on fanaticism did was prove its point with the comments. What is interesting was how emotional responses were cloaked with an attempt at appearing rational. This is just as Guy Kawasaki would have it when he formulated thihis plan to develop fanatical evangelists.

BTW we have eight Macs and a few more PCs in the office and they’re all good computers running Intel chips. We go back and forth between them and never feel morally superior or inferior on any platform.

Fans are just that FANatics and the responses clearly show a rationalizing mind at work, not a rational mind. As a marketing person, it’s difficult to not look at those respondents as potential targets for getting desired responses.

As Tajfel pointed out, the differences between acolytes can be infinitessimal. It brings the reason for the extreme passions one sees in civil wars from two almost identical tribes who ignore all they have in common. I see where fortunes can be made convincing a self-annointed group it is superior when they pay considerably more for virtually the same product. There’s one born every nanosecond and some predators might think of them as prey.

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Marcello 9. September 2010 at 1:50 pm

It’s possible that Apple is actually limiting it’s consumer base by using “us vs. them” marketing. It could be that Apple products are well-made and well-designed, but I’m reluctant to even touch them because the whole “tribal mentality” thing is kinda creepy. Seriously, I need to buy a gadget to join your club? But I have a social life already, what else can your gadget do? It’s like a personality cult for people without personalities. I’d rather get something cheap that works so I can spend more time interacting with real people.

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Indiana Chevy Dealers
Twitter: harechevy
10. September 2010 at 1:07 pm

Great post with alot of technical data to back it up. I had this discussion with someone a short while ago in regards to Ford vs. Chevy While I completely agree with the theory from a brand standpoint its hard on my level to promote that. When we service and sell numerous used Fords I cant promote and publish content that contains anti Ford sentiment. Car dealerships these days dont rely on new vehicles to generate most of their income. The best return comes from service and used vehicles, alot of which could be Fords. Great article regardless of the Ford/Chevy issue but curious to hear your thoughts on the topic from our level.

Chris Theisen
Director of Digital Communications
Hare Chevrolet

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Roger Dooley
Twitter: rogerdooley
10. September 2010 at 4:05 pm

That’s an interesting dilemma, Chris. On the new product, you have a well-defined brand and competition you have to sell against. But, you can’t bash the competition too hard because you are probably selling their product, too. Staying positive seems like the best approach. I was at an electronics store not long ago and the salesperson was pushing one brand and criticizing another brand they also sold. The criticism didn’t seem valid, and his approach made me doubt everything he said.

Roger

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Hummer Guy 10. September 2010 at 2:09 pm

@Indiana Chevy Dealers -

You’re correct on the dealership level that brand v. brand advertising wont work if you’re selling both products. That’s not to say the same idea can’t be used by dealers.

If service and pre-owned are your best margin areas, why not focus on what matters to those customers?

e.g.
Us: Free car washes for any vehicle purchased, regardless of make.
Them: You’re lucky if your pre-owned car is clean when you buy it

Us: Freshly made cookies and coffee in the waiting room
Them: A box of picked over doughnuts leftover from yesterday

Us: Extended service pick-up/drop-off ours
Them: If you’re not here by 5 we’re keeping it overnight

Us: Free loan cars for any service appointment lasting an hour or more.
Them: Have a doughnut while you wait here all day

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Renaldo 10. September 2010 at 2:17 pm

“It could be that Apple products are well-made and well-designed, but I’m reluctant to even touch them because the whole “tribal mentality” thing is kinda creepy.”

I hate to break the news to you, but whenever you spend money on a product or service you are making a statement about your character and personality. Any product you buy, whether it’s a Dell, a Toshiba, or a Lenovo, makes you “tribal” in that you–and many like-minded others–are buying into the values exemplified by the product. So when you go walking around with that Dell under your arms, because Apple’s “tribal mentality thing is kinda creepy”, don’t forget I’m making a judgment about you with your Dell logo. “Tribal” is the nature of the human species.

“All of the below comments confirm the point of this article. Each of them run like this, ‘I hate this article because its not right. Apple does not succeed because of neuromarketing it succeeds because it sells great products…!’ These folks are examples of neuromarketing…they have a baseless attraction to the product.”

This, and other similar comments here, are revealing as to why this blog post is baseless twaddle: Tajfel’s psychological study, which attempted to demonstrate emotions being tied to “tribal” behavior with little real distinction in reality, has to assume that the products behind “Us vs Them” marketing are of equal value, or are otherwise indistinguishable in terms of product quality. So, for example, Tajfel’s research is proven correct when comparing Ford vs Chevy owners, or Coke vs Pepsi, etc etc.

And, according to this blog’s basic “neuromarketing” premise, it’s also true with BMW vs Ford owners, Timex vs Rolex watch owners, or Apple vs Dell computer owners, since all of these companies strive to distinguish themselves as having the best products. This blog author wants us to believe that the products themselves are irrelevant here. Is this what Taifel intended with his study, as this blog author claims? I don’t think so, in fact I’d contend Taifel wished to prove the exact opposite with his results, that only when products or values are indistinguishable does his study have relevance.

By twisting Taifel’s actual intent in his study, this blog author actually undermines the essential nature of business marketing theory.

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Clint 10. September 2010 at 9:01 pm

Hey Roger thanks for writing the article. I’ve thought a lot about the mac fanatiscism in the past and this is an interesting angle on the phenomenom. Some of the overwhelmingly negative responses to your article are kind of disturbing. It seems odd that people will try to destroy your credibility in any way they can think of because they find something offensive in your article.

I tend to resent the mac marketing approach because it seems patronizing to me.. the new windows are kinda pathetic to me as well.

I once owned a powerbook. It was ok, but it went kaput, overheated, shocked me with a sketchy power adapter.. The operating system was fine, it did what it was supposed to do for the most part.

I’m still not too sure what makes a mac so clearly superior to a ‘pc’. Technically speaking what specific technologies are there ‘under the hood’ that make it so superior? Are they using superior processes and technology than all the other component manufacturers? Aren’t most of the parts nearly identical/interchangeable?

I’m not trying to be a smart-ass, really. I would just like to hear the facts on why a mac is so great. I mean… a lot of great software seems to be available on both operating systems, if not then there seems to be a multitude of other options that can perform the same tasks. Is the operating system fundamentally superior? Is windows really copying mac os? I think that could be a cyclical argument… It seems that a good part of the evolution of ideas and technology is refining what already works..

I like building and owning pc’s, that doesn’t make me a windows fan boy, or anti mac. I think diversity, options and competetive pricing provides me with many great improvements in technology and innovation.

I don’t really like to attach myself to any brands in particular. I will choose what meets my needs and desires and fits my budget.

I’m not a mac, I’m not a PC, I’m just somebody using these components I bought and assembled to do some work, emails, social networking, multimedia and gaming… much in the same way everyone else does I think…

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Roberts Howard
Twitter: http://studioproducts.com
10. September 2010 at 10:01 pm

Aperçu this discussion, I was prompted to write to some staff concerning directions to explore. Here’s part of it:

I suppose, in the intensely rational person, fully 5% of the brain’s capacity is given over to conscious thought. Considerably more of the brain is used for the various other areas of consciousness…sub-, un-, pre-, etc. It appears the vast portion of the human brain is devoted to operating the machine…liver function, heart rate, all the way to how fast our toenails grow. We are adaptable creatures because our brains learn that we’re wearing our fingernails out by constantly digging in the earth, so it sends messages to those fingernail-making parts and they successfully adapt.

All of this happens without us being aware of it (until it goes wrong). Until recent years, our development and growth from life in the caves has been slow-paced and easily comprehended. When the settlers of Jamestown arrived in the early 1600′s, they brought with them, shovels, hoes, woodworking, fire-making tools, knives and swords. Their kit was not much different than that of the ancient Phoenicians. Things had not changed that much, and we were progressing in fits and starts when suddenly, around the Age of Enlightenment, everything changed and within a very short time we had a man on the moon.

Clearly, our minds had changed, but I wonder if that change was fundamental (at the core) or akin to an overlay, which would be more like advanced techniques being applied. I suspect it’s the latter and beneath that overlay is the same brain that was at one with the forests, the fields and the seas. It appears the large part of the brain lies submerged and overlooked, if not inaccessible on a conscious level. Communicating with those phantom parts of the brain offers us, as marketers and artists, tools that are as powerful as built-in commands.
_______________

The message continued exploring how this veneer of (fairly recent) civilization and modernity has dulled senses that still operate but without our being as sensitive to them as, say someone in Darién province in Panama who lives on a dollar a week. In many ways they are far more sensitive to body language, smell and vocal tone than the person living in Darian Connecticut whose sensitivities are tamped down under intellectual conceptions that do not allow the ready access to those parts of the consciousness that, while still functioning as well as they ever did, are invisible to today’s consumer. Learning to go beneath that crust and communicate with what’s there could give the canny marketer the ability to create fanatics of the Mac vs. PC and Ford vs. Chevy variety. That sort of irrational exuberance creates what Eric Hoffer dubbed The True Believer who could rationalize any unreality into a biblical truth. I often wondered about the BMW driver piloting The Ultimate Driving Machine. How does he rationalize it compared to a Ferrari?

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Renaldo 11. September 2010 at 4:39 pm

“I’m still not too sure what makes a mac so clearly superior to a ‘pc’. Technically speaking what specific technologies are there ‘under the hood’ that make it so superior?”

Okay, you asked for it. Here’s a short list of what I’ve come up with as to why Macs are *far* superior to Windows computers. There are many more things that could be added here, but this will give you an idea:

1) The Mac OS X operating system is the most advanced in the world. Based on Unix, it is built from the ground up with security and stability as its core structural elements. It is 64 bit, multi-threaded, and multi-tasking. For these reasons…
2) The Mac is virtually virus-free.
3) Macs are much less bug-prone than Windows computers.
4) Mac software rarely crashes.
5) Since Apple designs and controls both the hardware and the OS for the Mac, their computers are much more reliable than Windows computers.
6) Mac security is much more robust while being less intrusive than with Windows’ dreadful UAC control interface. You do not need to install additional security software on a Mac (let alone virus software!).
7) The OS is a fraction of the size of Windows (even though it can do a lot more); it is very compact and efficient.
8) Startup times are much faster than Windows.
9) There is only one edition of the Mac OS, and upgrades are consistently the same relatively low price. There are a dizzying array of versions for Windows.
10) All system related settings and configuration utilities are neatly organized in System Preferences. On a Windows computer these are scattered throughout the operating system that are often frustrating to find.
11) Mac users rarely encounter warning and attention boxes and windows; Windows users, on the other hand, are constantly bombarded with cautions and warnings, and with update announcements. These can be so frequent that it disturbs one’s work.
12) There is very little system maintenance necessary because of the Unix core of the Mac OS. In fact, one can run a Mac for weeks before rebooting. This would be impossible with a Windows computer.
13) The Mac OS has a robust backup program built into its operating system (Time Machine); it is robust and works reliably.
14) On the rare occasions that a Mac needs troubleshooting, this can be done much more easily than with Windows; there is no system registry on a Mac.
15) Macs have a reliable Sleep mode; this has rarely worked reliably in Windows, which means users tend to either leave their computers on, or they turn them off entirely after using.
16) Macs are much better than Windows in hiding geeky computer processes and other hardware/software requirements (like file extensions and the like).
17) At the same time, the Mac OS can be very powerful for advanced computer users. Most commands have keyboard equivalents, the OS is filled with time-saving utilities, and many complex command sequences can be automated. The OS also includes a number of advanced utilities, like Spaces and Expose. The Mac Dashboard is beautifully funcitonal and elegant.
18) The OS includes a powerful built-in image app called Preview, which even allows one to view PDF files without Acrobat.
19) The OS also includes a mail client, a calender, a contacts address book, even a dictionary and thesaurus.
20) The tight integration between hardware and software provides unprecedented potential for seamless interaction between programs; at time it seems like you are working within one program, even though you may be using several programs at one time.
21) The Mac platform has several “killer” software apps not available with Windows, like DevonThink Pro, Scrivner, Delicious Library, Aperture, Logic, Final Cut, and iWork.
22) Software is much easier to learn and use with a Mac. It is more logical and intuitive. Apple’s strict developer guidelines maintains a high degree of consistency for commands and interface elements between programs.
23) File sharing on a Mac is much easier and more intuitive. It includes several powerful utilities for managing and using files (like QuickLook and Preview).
24) Every Mac includes a powerful suite of software out of the box. Called iLife, this software suite covers most general uses that a Mac owner encounters with multimedia (audio and visual).
25) Hardware is “plug and play”, there are rarely installation problems or driver conflicts.
26) Macs can run Windows as a program application within the Mac OS. In fact, Windows tends to run faster on a Mac than on a PC.
27) Mac networking is a joy to set up and use. It is very easy to configure and it is reliable. It permits a level of home robust home networking that has never been possible with Windows. Mac networking is so powerful that file management on multiple computers is as easy as on a single computer.
28) Macs computers are beautifully designed with performance and ergonomics in mind (form follows function). When you buy a Mac, you can use it within minutes after taking it out of its box. There are no stickers plastered across the machine, no crapware to remove, and no blinking lights everywhere to annoy you. Everything works, and works well right out of the box, which makes them fun to use. You learn to look forward to sitting in front of your Mac and working with it.
29) Apple uses high-quality components for its computers, which increases their longevity. While I had to replace my Windows laptops on an almost yearly cycle, my MacBook Pro is now five years old and is still going strong.
30) Apple is much less prone than Microsoft to introducing lame software in its products, software that is soon after dropped (like Microsoft’s Slideshow in Vista, or the terrible Windows Ultimate Extras).
31) Seamless and comprehensive integration with Apple mobile devices (iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc.). iTunes works much better on a Mac than on a Windows machine.
32) When considering the reliability and build-quality of a Mac, they are much cheaper than PCs in terms of ROI (Return on Investment).
33) Apple customer support is unsurpassed. You get real technical specialists who know what they’re talking about when you call Apple support, and they can speak accent-free English. They are friendly and sympathetic. You rarely have to wait more than a couple of minutes before getting through to someone.

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TheMacMommy
Twitter: TheMacMommy
11. September 2010 at 7:08 pm

@Renaldo
Amen!

34) The Community Support.

Where are all the Windows user communities? Do they have a “Windows World?” I wouldn’t know. I live inside the bubble and I’ll admit it, I like it here. I’m happy and that’s ALL that matters in the grand scheme of things. Why mess with a good thing? Why is it a bad thing that Apple has happy customers? Why pick it apart and analyze it? I am a happy computer user, so why must I be psychoanalyzed because I own a Mac (or several for that matter)? I am HAPPY when I use my computer, not frustrated, not annoyed, not feeling like I wasted time I can not get back because something crashed or I got a virus. How many people are really, truly happy using Windows for their computing needs? How many, what is the statistic on users who switch BACK to Windows after using OS X? Who can cite it? It’s not unheard of. People do switch back and that’s their prerogative. As long as they’re happy, comfortable and functional, who are we to judge?

Just pick a machine, use it and be happy. If you don’t like it, switch and stop complaining about it. Stop judging the Apple and Mac community for evangelizing something that makes computing truly personal.

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Roberts Howard
Twitter: http://studioproducts.com
11. September 2010 at 10:42 pm

>>>what is the statistic on users who switch BACK to Windows after using OS X<<<

Well let's see. Of our eight Macs, most run OSX Snow Leopard and a considerably greater number of PCs are running Win7. As far as switching back from the Mac OS, I suspect that everyone here does it a dozen times a day without any problems, either intellectual or moral. Viruses are about the same…virtually none on either platform (we use anti-virus software that comes on every night, along with all sorts of new-fangled spam blockers, not to mention firewalls). Things really have come a long way since DOS and the Apple II, and I suspect you are doing an invidious comparison with an old MS operating system. Win7 is really quite nice and it's a TRUE 64-bit OS, not from a 32-bit kernel. What that means is the heavy lifting (video rendering) is done on the honkin' big multi-chip 64-bit PCs. Nothing personal, just business.

Sadly, the new Intel Macs do not have the same color definition that the old Motorola-based Macs had. There's a test pattern with five very close shades of red that the Motorola Macs could define but the new Intel Macs are like the PCs and only see three of the five. So that advantage is gone now.

So that's the reality sandwich from the power users…basically, thank God for these wonderful computers, no matter who makes them. Oh, in case you didn't know this, MS does not make computers. They make software and, from what I understand, they do a great job with the X-Box software, getting exceptional speed and reliability from it. The industrial design on the Macs is really excellent but the show-stopper is in my office. There's nothing remotely like it on the Mac side and for sheer brutal beauty, the Thermaltake Level 10 tower stops people in their tracks. Yes, it's expensive for a PC but about average for what the high end Macs cost. Then again, it has a couple of six core chips and those raise the price to that of an average (but much slower) high-end Mac. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a recognizable brand name, so I don't have any bragging rights.

It's another case of The Ultimate Driving Machine driver justifying his purchase when a Ferrari whizzes by. There really and truly are some stunning technological breakthroughs avaialable to anyone with an open mind. They're just tools…marvelous tools. They will not make you smarter or more creative.

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Roberts Howard
Twitter: http://studioproducts.com
11. September 2010 at 10:55 pm

>>>Where are all the Windows user communities? Do they have a “Windows World?” <<<

Are you equating huddling together for warmth and comfort with a superior product? You must ask yourself if Macs comprise only 3.8% of the total computer market, does that mean that 96.2% of the world's population are complete dunderheads and those few (3.8%, that happy band of brothers and sisters represent the very best humanity has to offer as far as creativity, intelligence and taste?

This seems to be the crux of the Mc vs. PC argument — 3.8% of the population are highly evolved and the other 96.2% need help figuring out how a doorknob works. Is that what Mac fanatics are saying? It sure sounds like it, and that is unattractive behavior in most civilized circles.

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TheMacMommy
Twitter: TheMacMommy
12. September 2010 at 5:40 am

@Roberts Howard
Thanks for sharing the statistics of switchers in your personal environment. You misunderstood my rhetorical question regarding statistics. I don’t know that anyone could truly answer it without having done a longitudinal study regarding user satisfaction surveys; in that case it is the point is moot.

It’s only been my personal and professional observation that most people who have switched to using the OS X platform **exclusively** rarely switch back — if they are the type of person who chooses to use only one platform, as in, choosing between OS X or Windows. I know many computer users (probably more than the enthusiasts with whom I choose to socialize regarding computing) who are not enthusiasts in that they don’t care which computer they use, it could be Linux, so long as it runs a browser they are able to perform a task and be on their way. There was a time when I worked in a business running both platforms and I had to perform tasks on a Windows XP machine. It was a tool I used to get a job done and nothing more to me. I wasn’t enthusiastic about using the machine for anything other than tasks that produced a pay check each week. So there, I too was able to “switch” back and forth daily from a “Mac to a PC” — keyword here being “able.”

“This seems to be the crux of the Mc vs. PC argument — 3.8% of the population are highly evolved and the other 96.2% need help figuring out how a doorknob works. Is that what Mac fanatics are saying? It sure sounds like it, and that is unattractive behavior in most civilized circles.”

I completely disagree, but that is my personal opinion on your statement. I believe there is an even smaller number of platform “bashers” out there (of course many of them have congregated here in this thread so it would seem!)

I don’t believe that choosing one platform over another makes you smarter or more capable. If anything, the majority of computer programmers out there use Windows and they are incredibly intelligent! I don’t think Windows users are stupid at all. I just feel sorry for many because of the problems they cry about and wish they would try OS X and see if it suits them better. Perhaps it’s just the Windows users I know. The majority of them are using XP or VIsta. I NEVER hear anything positive from these users. NEVER. They always complain about their computer — both the hardware AND the software. Let’s face it, Windows 7 might be slick and less troublesome, but it’s not yet dominant, so we must consider the demographics here.

Notice how I don’t just say “get a Mac?” There are more and more people out there hacking a PC and installing OS X on it because they really like the OS. Sure, I love the aesthetics of Apple’s products, but if I could choose a $600 laptop and have it run OS X, I might very well bite. I think Toshiba makes gorgeous products. So does HP. Dell has always looked cheap and breakable to me.

I ask again, where are the Windows Communities? Not “… equating huddling together for warmth and comfort with a superior product?” — shame on you for mocking me, you should know better.

Could you please list links of forums and online communities where Windows users hang out, have meetups, answer each others’ technical questions and help each other out? Please reference some groups of people who actually care about each others’ user experiences with the Windows OS and the products it runs on. I’m not being sarcastic, I just don’t see the same kind of camaraderie from Windows users as I do with Mac users. I’ve seen teenagers get together to game in basements. I’ve seen groups of programmers collaborating with each other. I’ve searched through forums looking for answers to error dialog boxes that pop up on my inlaws’ Windows machine — but it’s just not the same and I can never find the answer for help for which I’m searching.

Thanks also for attempting to insult my intelligence with your “reality sandwich from the power users” and the newsflash that Microsoft doesn’t make computers, they make software.

Seriously? Are you kidding me? Was that really necessary?

Tsk tsk tsk. I’d expect more from a “power user.”

I hear Dyson makes a wonderful vacuum cleaner and many swear the higher cost is worth every penny and then some. Me, I just want to vacuum the Cheerios off my carpet. I just want something that sucks. I mean, don’t you? There are vacuum cleaner enthusiasts out there. There are shaving razor enthusiasts. There are Palm and Linux enthusiasts. For one reason or many, those users enjoy a product that in their opinion tickles their fancy and they are enthusiastic about it! It fulfills a need better than any other product they’ve tried because that specific need is really important to them.

My point is that it’s about collective enthusiasm for a product or service that makes it a winner. I just don’t see **enthusiastic” Windows users — of any version. I hear many more positive reviews from Windows 7 users, the small group that they are, but I wouldn’t say they are enthusiastic about the product. That’s why posted about Community Support. There is an unquestionably enthusiastic community support when it comes to Mac and Apple users. There is a growing community base of Linux users too. Where is that same thing on the Windows side of things?

You know what, sir, I completely agree with you: “There really and truly are some stunning technological breakthroughs avaialable to anyone with an open mind. They’re just tools…marvelous tools. They will not make you smarter or more creative.”

In case you didn’t know this, they won’t make your penis any larger either, but size doesn’t matter when you know how to use your tool and like it.

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Renaldo 12. September 2010 at 6:58 am

“You must ask yourself if Macs comprise only 3.8% of the total computer market, does that mean that 96.2% of the world’s population are complete dunderheads…”

This statistic simply reflects the reality of modern commodity-driven societies. Microsoft’s greatest success has been the commoditization of the personal computer. If Apple’s DNA is to build “insanely great computers”, then Microsoft’s DNA has always been to build acceptably functional computers as cheaply as possible. From a marketshare perspective Microsoft has succeeded masterfully at commoditizing the computer.

Whether it has succeeded in developing an industry that builds “acceptably functional” computers is another story. Steve Jobs, and Apple, say no, they haven’t, because computers don’t lend themselves to commoditization. Computers are too complex and sophisticated to be commoditized, and even if you attempt to do this you are eliminating any possibility of developing the full potential of the personal computer concept. Apple marketing is about convincing people that they are not experiencing the full potential of unleashing personal creativity with a Windows computer that is commoditized.

Steve Jobs is fully aware that Apple will never change this market dynamic, commodity culture is simply a fact of all mass societies. Apple will most likely continue to gain market share as more and more people recognize that computers do not lend themselves well to commoditization, but it will always be a relatively small percentage of the whole. The vast majority of people simply want something that convincingly looks like a computer as cheaply as possible, they’re not interested in “unleashing creativity”, and they certainly don’t care if it’s filled with crapware, plastered with stickers, is ergonomically compromised, etc etc.

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Forum 13. September 2010 at 7:09 am

Groupism and Social Identity have for long been a behavioural pattern in both humans as well as animals… in their own different way, of course. This post well illustrates how marketers have leveraged on this human psycology… in fact, could relate examples to quite a few personal observations I had made on this subject but never thought about them in-depth… quite agree to the Apple and Cola examples

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Roberts Howard
Twitter: http://studioproducts.com
13. September 2010 at 12:40 pm

I confess to writing a couple of posts that were designed to provoke a response but, it was in the interests of researching this fascinating aspect of human response (some may call it an involuntary reaction). As marketers, what Apple has done is create a market that defies all logic. While some of their approach was calculated (the Kawasaki phase) other parts were luck and blundering into touching the right nerve (such as the 1982 commercial which they tried to back out of, to the point of offering the ad space at a loss). However it happened, the end result has been to produce one of the most dedicated and loyal markets we have seen for manufactured consumer products.

As we have seen here, there are strong emotions and passions attached to having made the choice to buy products that are far from unique (all come with very long serial numbers and are made in factories that stay active churning out identical models). I would like to gain any insights into what makes that sort of behavior.

My recent ruminations have been about the great difficulty most people have in admitting they made a mistake. For many, it’s the sort of face-reddening embarrassment for which they’d rather die than admit. This brought up thoughts of Captain Edward Smith of the RMS Titanic. Because his ship had the capabilities to do so, he made the decision to crown the maiden voyage with a trans-Atlantic speed record. This would be the equivalent of winning the Academy Award and the Nobel prize. When the ship foundered on the iceberg, he decided it was preferable to die in the icy waters than to face recriminations on shore.

I wonder how much of that ‘going down with the ship’ behavior is rooted in an incapacity to deal with making irrational purchasing decisions. I’d appreciate Roger Dooley’s take on this behavior driving what we mistake for brand loyalty. The rationalizations we have seen bear little connection with reality and, as marketers, that is the sort of emotion-driven behavior we wish to harness and direct for our clients.

In looking at the Apple commercial above, I recently saw a mini-poster with those two actors and the question…”Which one would you hire to work for your company?” I suspect we’ll be beseiged with non-reality based responses and even mentions of male reproductive organs but, for those among us who have to hire people who will help build a profit-driven organization, the answer is not based on cuteness and eye-rolling.

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Marcello 15. September 2010 at 11:38 am

@Renaldo Says:

“I hate to break the news to you, but whenever you spend money on a product or service you are making a statement about your character and personality.”

Only in the sense that when I buy a toothbrush I am making a statement that I brush my teeth. And my dentist would say that even that’s debatable!

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Chase Adams
Twitter: realchaseadams
30. September 2010 at 2:54 pm

Roger, The comments here make a perfect example of the Us vs. Them scenario.

Great post!

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Roberts Howard
Twitter: http://studioproducts.com
30. September 2010 at 4:58 pm

>>Microsoft’s greatest success has been the commoditization of the personal computer. If Apple’s DNA is to build “insanely great computers”, then Microsoft’s DNA has always been to build acceptably functional computers as cheaply as possible.<<

Do you compare Chevy Camaros with BF Goodrich tires? One's a car, the other goes ON a car…right?

This may come as a BIG surprise but…I hope that you're sitting down…Microsoft does not build computers (well maybe the Xbox), chips or radial snow tires. What they do is make software. Still sitting down? They even make software for Macs.

Aside from cell phones and portable radios. Apple makes computers just like HP, Dell and a zillion other companies. They also make some software but not nearly as much as fifteen years ago.

Like MS, Adobe makes software but they are not demonized. Wanna guess why? Because no one has aimed you at Adobe. Do you need a bemon to help you go through the day? If you're like most people, a little jihad really helps — to have someone of another ethnicity, religion or who chooses to drive a Chevy out here in Ford country…Macintosh ahkbar! So what's a thoughtful, unemotional person to do? Why shoot 'em up, don that explosive vest and go caromming off point, maybe even talk about penis size (darn, that was brilliant repartée, MacMommy) and, best of all, lard on a thick layer of pseudo logic to hide that all of this is covering an emotional decision that came roiling up from the darker regions of your subconcious. Like most people who cannot deal with harvesting the fruits of the TOTALLY unexamined life, rich fictions are created to tranform a knee-jerk reaction into a carefully wrought decision.

I think that is what capable marketers are hoping to harness with the tried and true Us vs.Them mentality that runs deep in all human psyches. These attempts at rationalizing an emotional decisions would be a source of levity were it not that feelings would get hurt. So we'll leave it at that.

I fully expect yet more prolix justification of a purchased item and how it elevates the purchaser from someone who just spent a few thousand to a highly evolved human being. These fictions helps numb the pain, fear and doubt of the purchase.

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Teri Nolan 30. September 2010 at 9:03 pm

Most Apple loyalists will tell you that Apple offer functionally superior products, and are thus a more successful company. However, when consumers pay double for white Apple headphones, something other than functionality is at work. In marketing terms, reducing the success of a brand to the products it creates is a simplistic view. Products can be imitated. It is the brand that holds the unique relationship with their consumers – whether they acknowledge it or not.

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Chase Adams
Twitter: realchaseadams
1. October 2010 at 6:36 am

@Terri What an excellent point!

I can count on both hands the amount of times I’ve seen (and I’m ashamed to say, smirked at) the Apple headphones attached to a NON-Apple device!

In Tribes, Seth Godin points out that sometimes the best way to create “value” in your brand or tribe is exclusion. Exclusion can be a powerful force…so much so that people who can’t afford an iPod will buy something cheaper, put it in their pocket and only show their Apple Brand headphones.

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eric 1. October 2010 at 6:21 pm

You’re all fanatical evangelists!

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Roberts Howard
Twitter: http://studioproducts.com
1. October 2010 at 11:47 pm

>>>You’re all fanatical evangelists!<<<

I wish! Actually, I wish that I could be an evangelist who produced fanatics who went forth to spend money on what I directed them to spend. Sadly, I have concluded that the power of Apple's fanatic-building is the result of a "perfect storm" of the ideal audience waiting for a cause, and a number of thngs (some carefully conceived and others just sheer chance) coming together to make such a loyal consumer base.

As marketers, we all hope for such things but, as of yet we have not been able to fomulate how to do it consistently. That is why I am here, to gain insights and marvel at human behavior.

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Ivan Dimitrov 5. October 2010 at 1:05 am

Are you kidding me what technical difference, if you only check out the HTC HD 2 vs “NEW IPHONE” HTC is winning in many characteristics.People are buying Iphone coz it has more apps and the adds make it more cooler, I recall there was one add that even tells you that you will have more sex if you have an Iphone , what a scam!

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Fernando Muñoz
Twitter: fegna.mailgmail.com
5. October 2010 at 4:03 pm

Can’t believe it. I just read what is almost the only non biased article about what really makes Mac people be so narrow minded about their computers and hilariously, it takes two seconds to appear a comment about the “hardware” and “the things they have done well” if it was for that, remember that MICROSOFT saved APPLE from ruin just a few years back, just for the sake of not fall into monopoly. Whatever apple people are doing now, they are creating great technological gadgets at very expensive prices that make people feel exclusive, compartimentalized, being members of a select group that prefers the ultra high cost machine that no pc user have, even when the “hardware” is better, or the programs or whatever. When I realized that all of this was beyond reasonable discussions, then I thought it must be something psychological. It is. Is Confabulation. At those prices and level of usability, no one should be buying those… well few should be buying those. But no. I love the design, the gadgets and the looks of some apple products, but I would love they sell those cases for PC’s. All the insides are nothing but the same.

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rolf
Twitter: rolfneugmail.com
6. October 2010 at 5:49 am

about comment by Fernando Muñoz at 4:03 pm

wow. and you just think you did the world a service with your logic?
you are missing all the points!

you must either be of the young generation whose suffering from ADD or you’re just plain dumb.

history goes back 1000s of years, not 6 months. please know your facts before you ridicule human intelligence. go back even a decade, not a century.

1. “narrow minded”?!
Mac users are in the minority vs. Microsoft Windows users, who still own 90% of the market. Mac users had to fight for their lives from 1984 to 1998 till iMac came along! that is why they are zealous. but that’s caused by the journalists, the media, the IT experts that lied about Macs and still do, to cover up their inadequacies, to keep their jobs by bad-mouthing Apple or its shortcomings.

2. “Microsoft saved Apple”
you are a moron who believes marketing or media hype!
Bill Gates showed up on the Steve Jobs expo screen by donating $150 Million to Apple which in 1998 had $1 Billion cash. The iMac catapulted Apple into the stratosphere right after. Plus Microsoft’s deal was non-voting and mainly for updating Microsoft Office – since they had not focused on their suite for a while – hence it was to boost Microsoft profits since they expected Apple to come back after Steve Jobs returned & launched iMac. it is Steve Jobs’ & Jonathan Yves’ intelligence, foresight, that saved Apple you schmuck.

3. “very expensive prices/ultra high cost”
this could mean you’re not young but older and remember the old anti-Mac myths from the 1980s, so regurgitating this info is useless.
from 1984 to 1998 Macs were somewhat more expensive. from 1998, for over a decade now, Macs or Apple products have been cheaper than PC or other electronic products! it’s easy to talk when you window-shop. but when you compare what’s inside hardware and what ease of use, speed, power, reliability, virus-free, crash-free, problem-free quality you get with Apple, you would never say stupid things like you do. Apple is not just prettier, it’s more solid, more practical and cheaper in the end.

4. “no one should be buying those”
so why are millions converting from Windows to MacOSX?
why is iPod, no longer a novelty, still selling beyond marketing logic after a decade, outselling the Sony WalkMan or anything else by more than 10-fold?
why is the totally new category, the iPad, in its 1st generation, if you read the news, reaching to be the all-time best-selling gadget ever?
…Apple’s products are selling despite a world recession. people know what they can afford but your intelligence says they should not?!
they ARE. maybe you’re not buying. but that’s your loss, not theirs. if you can’t afford it or are too cheap or short-sighted yourself, it’s your problem, don’t vent your neurosis or jealousy onto others who are happy.

5. “leve of usability”
indeed. Apple is much more usable, practical. if you didn’t touch each of their hardware or software product and directly compared them to competition, you’re talking from bias, not facts. anyway, how can millions be wrong and you right? plus, ever noticed how practically not one apple user goes back to old products or to competition, once they taste apple, though users who buy competition switch to apple? apple is the co. that loses clients the least.

6. “insides are nothing but the same.”
wrong! PCs use generic parts. Apple, though the only manufacturer that makes their own hardware and software, does use foreign parts, but overall, they totally control the quality, it’s never generic. apple designs, engineers, tests it all. there IS a big difference in stability, power, speed, ease of use. plus why do you think apple macs or ipod or ipads or whatever…is selling so well with #1 customer satisfaction in all these industries?! or why can NO ONE with all their years of attempts at building the next Apple killer, iPhone killer, iPad killer product…ever beat apple?! none of the big shots, nor you, get it, that apple’s secret is in the SOFTWARE, not hardware. which means, your argument to start with, hardware being all the same, is mute and stupid.

if anyone has a psychological problem as you state, it’s people like you, who do not understand the history and meaning of technology and certainly, like most market analysts or experts, are ignorant of Apple’s point…

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Lew 18. October 2010 at 6:13 pm

I think this video helps to explain Roger Dooley’s thesis quite well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FL7yD-0pqZg

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andyvanee
Twitter: 1andyvaneegmail.com
9. November 2010 at 1:10 am

Great article. As a longtime Mac user, I’m shocked at how many don’t believe that they’ve been “marketed”. Here’s the crux of the issue: Apple is a for profit company, so every feature they add is marketing. The reason they are able to pull off and us vs. them campaign so successfully is that they meticulously laid the groundwork in their feature set.

Compare the feeling of walking in to the Apple Store vs. walking in to Future Shop: that’s marketing.

Compare the seamless integration of all the iFamily products: that’s marketing.

Every highly publicized product unveiling: marketing.

I converted from Linux/UNIX because they targeted me with their own UNIX system architecture: that’s marketing at it’s best.

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Holger E Metzger 14. November 2010 at 9:55 pm

Excellent article – we mentioned this piece in our recent TMRC Blog entry on why Coke and Pepsi have failed to establish a “fanatic” tribe following in China – http://www.tmrcresearch.com/2010/11/brand-loyalty-in-china/#more-1669

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Mac vs Pc 1. December 2010 at 4:58 am

I think you hit it right on the head. This is a big reason why I don’t want to use a Mac or iPhone. They focus too much on why you are an idiot if you don’t use their product and that all other products are inferior, which is simple not true. They are great at marketing and making friendly devices, but I’ll stick open source free thinking devices, thank you.

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James 31. December 2010 at 8:38 am

What a great article! Just reading the comments gives a good example of how powerful group fanaticism is.

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sammy 3. January 2011 at 7:10 pm

interesting article and interesting responses, there really are many points of view shown. what was amusing was Rolf, he doesn’t like people having their own opinions does he? I must agree with other posters, it is a (clearly demonstrated) group mentality. I have used Mac and PC and guess what I use now….PC! I didn’tactually like the Mac…yes, that is possible, I prefer the PC.
Thanks Roger, I enjoyed reading.
p.s. less aggression please Rolf- its really quite unpleasant when a grown-up discussion is going on.

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Berthold
Twitter: bertholdb
10. January 2011 at 8:07 am

Came for the well-researched article, stayed for the hilarious comments that at the same time disputed and proved the article’s point.

There is no point arguing, because the people who get angry at this article have adopted Apple into their world view, and that is extremely hard to change. It doesen’t even matter that most of the incredible features of mac-products listed here are purely anecdotal, or that the majority of Mac Hardware is of the same stock as PCs these days. You’re either with them or against them.

Thanks all for an interesting read.

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jonathan 11. January 2011 at 9:41 pm

Its very interesting we have been leveraging the phrase friends dont let friends drink starbucks and using the term charbucks for many years now as a way of getting our supporters to understand the difference between our product and our competitors

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Roger Dooley
Twitter: rogerdooley
11. January 2011 at 10:12 pm

For a coffee business, Starbucks makes the ideal rival. With their size and clout, they are the Death Star of the industry. Everyone else is a potentially sympathetic underdog. Well played, Jonathan.

Roger

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Roberts Howard
Twitter: http://studioproducts.com
12. January 2011 at 1:19 pm

Roger, would you consider the David vs. Goliath approach to be the most effective form of marketing for small firms? eg. we’re small enough to give you the personal service you DESERVE (I love that hot button word).

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Roger Dooley
Twitter: rogerdooley
12. January 2011 at 4:07 pm

I don’t know if I’d call it the MOST effective form of marketing, but for a small firm competing with a highly visible big firm it can certainly work. One key aspect is that the competitor has to be dominant and known by everyone – picking on a less-well known competitor might just encourage customers to check them out.

Roger

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ArekExcelsior2 2. May 2011 at 1:28 am

Wow, the Mac fanboys are ridiculous here.

Yes, Apple makes a good product.

Depending on what you want.

Apple computers are NOT “easier to use”. They’re easier to use for some, probably most, people. I find Apple computers impenetrably hard to use.

The reason why is, as a PC user, I find the things that Mac users find helpful to be annoying impediments. For every person who finds a tour guide valuable, someone else finds them to be an annoying distraction from their trip.

iPhones are great products… but so are many other smartphones. The difference isn’t really any objective quality element, it’s marketing, perception, fanatical love, etc.

And, when it comes to objective benchmarks, Apple products are routinely quite inferior to the top of the line non-Apple products.

There are plenty of people in the world who offer a good product who don’t get off the ground. A good product is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for success.

Great article, but I think it’s vital to note that there’s broader structural things going on: People gravitate towards consumer fandom increasingly because authentic community institutions have been reduced.

The big problem Apple has always had is that they have very high quality but very restrictive environments. It hurt them in the 90s and it may hurt them again in the 2010s to 2020s. Microsoft has many serious flaws, but one thing they did right was make it easy to develop something for the platform.

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tim 4. June 2011 at 3:25 pm

There is another component whereby Apple consumers are turned into fanatics. Lock in, leading to the cost of leaving the group being much too high a cost. So, for other electronic combinations, swapping manufacturers is easy and commonplace, but with Apple’s variety of inter working products, ipad, mac, iphone, tied with iTunes, cables, monitors etc, swapping to use another manufacturer for one of these parts is not easy.

Thus, the financial and brain cost of swapping to another product is high. And so, to justify their investment, devoted Apple consumers become fanatical.

This is how cults work. With the Us vs Them mentality, the group makes the person invest highly within the group. Which makes it difficult for cult members to leave.

Also telling, is like ex-cultists, the strongest anti-Apple voices tend to be those who have been “sucked in” by Apple, and react violently against it – offsetting their investment with anger.

tl;dr : agree with article, but Apple also encourages investment within group to make no longer owning Apple products very expensive

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Roger Dooley
Twitter: rogerdooley
4. June 2011 at 3:51 pm

Excellent point, Tim. Cognitive dissonance would further enhance this strategy – “I have committed to all this stuff that’s not compatible with anything else, I’m a smart guy, so Apple MUST be really good!”

Roger

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morphoyle 5. June 2011 at 9:00 am

A comparably priced PC is just as reliable and user-friendly as a Mac. I’ve supported both for over 15 years. Malware isn’t as big a deal on a PC as the Mac people would have you believe. Almost every single malware instance I’ve encountered is due to the user downloading pirated content, or installing file sharing software used almost exclusively to download said content. There is much less difference in the platforms than the marketing leads you to believe. Macs don’t always “Just Work”. Use google. There are TONS of bugs and issues with both platforms. The big difference really is marketing.

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Men 5. June 2011 at 3:48 pm

I believe your article served two purposes. The first to present a possible reason for branding as it relates to groups. Apple is all about cool. No matter how you cut it, they sell cool. The second, the responses you can find in your comments area are very telling.

Ipods never had the best sound quality, didn’t support the most formats but most of all they were NOT an mp3 player. Just ask most users of them and the technical details are pushed to the wayside. As Morphoyle correctly points out, the technical advantages that apple boasts as their selling points mean nothing to the vast major of it’s users. It’s all marketing. In one of the more famous hacking contest, the apple for the last three yrs running has been the first to fall. Apple actually shipped a win virus on their ipods and tried to blame MS. For the longest time tablet pcs were available. they could use USB, multitask, etc etc.The iphone is release bringing a very nice UI to the world of smart phones. Copy and Paste, available since the time of pda’s, is not available. Ipad is released and it takes away most of the functionality already available. Do they make well made devices that make use of easy to use UI’s? Yes they do and they are doing very well given their bank account. But anyone who denies “The cult of Mac” is not paying attention or a stock holder.

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Best Headphones
Twitter: hussein_said
20. August 2011 at 8:24 am

A friend of mine told me when you will become an Apple Guy you will never return back to Microsoft. Apple is creating Fans of their customers by concentrating on good fancy packaging and over delivering to their customers, in that way their customers will always remember them and will become after purchasing one or two items one of there fans

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NicoJ 13. November 2011 at 8:32 pm

Weird, i recently found out about neuro marketing and i see an apple vs. the world again.

As an it enthousiast, i have been following Apple for a while.

Remember this,

Mac – Based on Xerox interface
iPod – Based on Zen UI (from Creatie)
iPhone – Based on LG Prada
iPad – Based on the Knight Ridder Tablet 18 years ago.

Apple stole a lot of things of other companies, but always it seems people think Apple really invented it, but the truth is, they did not.

The stole 85% of a product and changed it a little bit, the biggest difference was the iPhone, where they changed the “already established Symbian” interface, a more polished product as a software.

But the real trick is this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW0DUg63lqU

This is what i have learned of the whole Apple story.

Problems are always minimized and they always say that someone else has it worse or has it also (remember Antennagate),… but handling situaties (like ignoring problems or blaming someone else) is been Apple’s greatest product.

They always someone else steals from them, but they always had an inspiration (mostly a very obious one) to their own.
Just like they copied a lot of features of Android in iOS 5 (notifications, …)

But if you really want facts, look up the price tag of the iCloud storage vs Google storage. You will notice that Apple’s prices are 8 x more expensive

for the exact same product.

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Rob 20. December 2011 at 1:22 pm

My favorite part about all of this is all the comments from Apple evangelists. No denying that Apple makes great products, arguably the best, and first. But pay attention to your own tone as you write your comments. There is clearly a pitting of Apple fans vs the world. As the experiments showed you’re not to be blamed, we’re hard wired for it. But you simply can’t argue against the fact that Apple has intentionally capitalized on that. Had they attempted to do that with crappy products it wouldn’t have worked, true. But had they not done it there wouldn’t be 100 indignant Apple fanatics commenting on here saying it’s BS. Let go of you’re pride, your susceptible to the same thing influences as everyone else. Your mighty Apple doesn’t make you perfect.

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Steve O 10. April 2012 at 4:04 pm

I’ve never seen such a passionate set of responses. By itself it highlights the grain of truth in the Blog.

I’m in no doubt about the tribal properties of Apple. I was always jealous of people that had Mac’s and Macbook’s and I-phones before me. They were invariably doing cooler jobs, and dressed more funkier than me in my corporate suit, straight jacket job and compulsory Microsoft product as dictated by the IT Nazi’s.

As soon as I was free to buy want I wanted I went straight to Apple. Now I always bore people about how we are an Apple family with about 9 Apple devices. Underneath I know I blab on because I want people to see as part of the cool, with it group/tribe whatever. Vain I know, but if I’m honest I know that I do like the social identity of being an Apple user. The product is AWESOME, but it is also what that says about me that I’m sure was a subconscious part of my buying decision

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Tweeg 14. June 2012 at 2:30 pm

Anyone who buys a apple product isn’t showing they are cool. They are displaying their lack of technical knowledge.

Like someone bragging they bought some water that prevents aging from a man with a wagon. Apple capitalizes on that old saying about fools and their money.

Theres a reason apple only compares people in their ads, its because if you stack the stats of a mac vs a pc you find that you are usually paying at least three time more for a mac even if the stats match the pc.

Its ridiculous. Its like people paying $400 for a toaster that performs the same job as a $20 one but they think a picture of a apple makes them cool.

Fools and their money

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