Apple Has Something in the Air

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Ology is a suffix denoting a field of study or academic discipline. Appleologists, as mentioned in Ars Technica, would therefore be people studying the field of Apple. Contrary to logic and belief, there are many who could fit this description.

As the buzz about Macworld 2008, Apple’s annual shindig, is building to a crescendo the air is full of speculation as to what new products will be announced. After all the iPhone was born a year ago. What will it be this year?

The latest hype in the ‘Apple media’ is about the first banners being put up at the conference venue in San Francisco. It says: ‘2008 There’s something in the air’. What could that refer to? New laptops to be announced could be so light that they could float? Images of Muhammad Ali’s ‘Float like a Butterfly’ spring to mind.

Possibly it’s another fabulous hand-held device that is a cross between a PDA, phone, movie viewing gadget, sound machine and camera kind of thing. You know what I mean don’t you?

Or maybe it has more to do with wireless and convergence. And remember if you do the convergence thing right you are entitled to call it Convergence 2.0. As silly as Web 2.0 surely. It’s all a progression after all. Moving on, have ranted about that before.

Apple have perfected the art of buzz and hype building. Just think of the rent a crowd staff whose sole purpose, it seemed at the time, was to applaud shoppers for their iPhone purchase during the launch week-end. Never mind the folk who queued outside the shop doors all night enjoying their moment in the spotlight.

On the other hand it could of course be an American thing – the whole hoopla, rah-rah and the ‘have to be the first to buy the gadget’ obsession. The iPhones haven’t sold that well in the UK. I would hazard a guess that the Brits are spoilt with their mobile internet access speed and non Apple addicts weren’t that enthusiastic to downgrade for a funky toy.

Having been an Apple addict myself since 1996, that operating system did it for me after DOS, I am with the buzz and enjoying the speculations. I go onto Apple’s website to check the latest ‘I’m a Mac, I’m a PC’ TV ads! Pathetic I know.

It’s been many a time that I have wondered how a company, such as Apple, could foster such unbelievable loyalty by its customers. I have never met anybody who cherishes their PC as Mac owners do their computers. Every one of my Macs has had a name after all my computer is my buddy. Ok, worst than pathetic.

The question that I ask myself every now and then is at what stage does the company move from being loved to being tolerated and finally to being hated. For me Google is a company that is starting to move through these stages. Google’s standing amongst its consumers was pretty good until a year or so ago.

Slowly but surely the mood and sentiment has started to move away from the universal love vibe to one of slight mistrust and wariness. At what stage will mistrust transform into something stronger?

Does it have something to do with the size of the company? Possibly people start to dislike a company when it is making huge profits. Nobody takes note of the small boys and what they get up to. Maybe mistrust and dislike happen when the company seems to use some shady business ethics. It could also be symptoms of concern the consumer has if the company is a monopoly. This could be why Microsoft is disliked. And if not disliked, it’s certainly not loved.

For a while now I have noticed that Apple is starting to head towards the tolerated stage in the love cycle. There are more articles against Apple than before. People in general, whether on blogs or in discussions, are starting to mumble about Apple.

Apple has been doing some strange things lately. Consumers haven’t been that happy that the iPhone came with a compulsory service provider contract. Then Apple knocked off $200 off the iPhone not even three months after it’s launch.

And then Leopard, the new operating system, is doing some strange things on a Mac near you. With other words, contrary to Apple’s promises of just plug in and play, Leopard is not playing well.

Is Apple starting to become a bully because it can afford to? Maybe it’s no longer the maverick kid on the block that produces some wonderful tools and toys. It has of course also had its share of Edsels. Time will tell about that. In the meantime I wonder what’s in the air?

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