Apple as Catholic, PC as Protestant

Interesting analogy in ‘The Guardian’ article about Apple:

"Umberto Eco once wrote a memorable essay arguing that the Apple Mac was a Catholic device, while the IBM PC was a Protestant one. His reasoning was that, like the Roman church, Apple offered a guaranteed route to salvation – the Apple Way – provided one stuck to it. PC users, on the other hand, had to take personal responsibility for working out their own routes to heaven."

I’ve been wanting to write something about why I don’t like Apple on philosophical grounds for a week now. I might be baptized a Catholic, but being an American, I have a certain protestant world-view. I can’t imagine anything worse than a world with only Apple cel phones, MP3 players, tablet computers, etc. I think we (designers), should start using Apple as an example of how crappy everything else is, rather than an example of how we should do business.

Apple is headed by Jobs, a Buddhist. I’m sure he has his own conflicts with the teachings in Buddhism for bringing more desires and temptations every year to the masses for $$$. I’m a protestant, but have been an Apple consumer and advocate since the mid-80’s. One thing I’ve come to despise is the pretentious, black shirt crowd with a plastic badge around their necks - it’s a cult! :slight_smile:

I have only recently bought an Apple product (IPhone 3GS) and I am torn between how great some parts of it is (it is so intuitive to use both my Mum and 2 year old daughter can use it without asking me for help) and how crappy some of it is (Itunes is terrible, and so un-Apple like- why does it default to writing over whats on the phone if there is a syncing error?- I lost lots of photos that way).

I have an impression of the Apple management team looking at their competition year after year, shaking their heads and saying to themselves “they just don’t get it”.

I’m struggling to think of a similar design-led company that has failed- where consumers are happy to pay a premium for something that has had some thought put into it. Any ideas?


Along the same lines as your sentiments sanjy:“post-pc-devices”-why-must-i-sync-with-itunes-before-i-can-use-one/

BTW, I’ve switched to Songbird for my music needs, in place of iTunes:

Yes, you can’t use one without a PC! What a crock! In the states recently I bought an AT&T prepaid sim and the AT&T people couldn’t get my phone to work, the Apple Store guy blamed AT&T- only after syncing it to upload some photos did it it work- lucky I brought my laptop with me.

I wonder what will cause Apple to slide? They can’t be so successful forever. Interesting that the “Catholic” approach has worked so well in Libertarian/small-government America.

I just read Christopher Hitchens’ “God is Not Great” and he tells a great story about Richard Gere getting his nose put out of joint as Steven Segal is considered ‘more buddhisty’ than him:

“Steven Seagal, the robotic and moronic “actor” who gave us “Hard to Kill” and “Under Siege,” has been proclaimed a reincarnated lama and a sacred vessel or “tulku” of Tibetan Buddhism. This decision, ratified by Penor Rinpoche, supreme head of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, was initially received with incredulity by Richard Gere, who had hitherto believed himself to be the superstar most favored.”

plus Hitchens tells a great Buddhist joke:

A Buddhist buys a hot-dog, the hot-dog vendor asks what he wants. He replies “one with everything”.
He pays the vendor with a $20 bill and waits for his change. And waits. After a few minutes he asks about his change and the vendor replies “change comes from within”.

Ha! Hilarious!

I’ve always found Jobs’s buddhism a bit odd compared to how he seems to act. I think he is just a baby boomer that wants an excuse to behave badly, so clamping onto a religion that seems to not have any rules allows him to do that with less guilt.

Having said that, of all the western consumer product companies, Apple does have the broadest vision. Every company I’ve been involved with is obsessed with what it’s competition is doing. Apple has this broad long term vision that doesn’t even recognize the competition. People have always told me that Asians have this kind of broader vision …

As for the US and religion, it is an odd place. It was founded by many protestant groups who wanted to be able to peacefully intepret the bible themselves. However, it often breeds conformity. As monotheists, they believed that the universe was ruled by one god, yet they created a republic with many always changing leaders.

I’ve always thought that contradiction was interesting, and the US proves that.

IMO, many Westerners, especially those that have gained some wealth and/or notoriety, that seek Eastern religions (and, even Eastern women, especially) seem to gravitate towards such religions mainly for exoticism (i.e., cool factor, mysticism, etc.) more than the substantive aspect of those religions. Can you imagine if Jobs was a mainline, evangelical Christian??? There goes the cool factor. :slight_smile: I find these folks to be at the center all the while these religions orbit around them, and not vice versa. In short, these religions serve them. As you say, most of them are attracted to the less confining “system” that enables the self-seeking existence; thus the EGO is still the underlying king in their lives.

I also agree that Apple is reaping the seeds of innovation and vision, and the cohesive approach to business that includes the integral part of industrial/product design discipline has served Apple well. But, with so many product offerings, year after year, that don’t really add value (OR perhaps they are systematically and prudently rolling out their technology “one at a time”), but merely feed the frenzy of conspicuous consumer consumption, I question whether Apple’s core vision has now become dominance, control and profit. Either way, Apple, just like other public companies, has become an ultimate slave to Wall Street and the bottom line.

Enigma: Yah. I find that Apple only releases interesting products 1 out of 3 announcements now. The others are yawners.