Should Apple’s brand image be contested?

November 17, 2007

Should Apple's brand image be contested?Ok: there have been a lot of murmurings around this site and others that perhaps being a Mac fan is about buying into an image and overlooking flaws for the sake of “coolness.” I want to clear up a few misconceptions about my own stance with Apple as well as the proprieties and improprieties of buying into Apple’s brand image.

Scobleizer wrote an interesting post that expressed some dissatisfaction with both Apple and the community that supports Apple so much. Here’s a list of brand image promises made by Apple, according to Scobleizer:

1. If your machine behaves badly it’s your fault.
2. Any idiot can use an Apple machine (that’s what they tell you before you buy one) but if your machine crashes then you must be a “œgenius” to fix it (they have bars at stores now where you can “œborrow” a genius, but only after waiting in line “” my son twice has been turned away from genius bars because they were too busy and was told to “œcome back tomorrow at 10 a.m.”). Oh, and if you are having problems at 10 p.m., and dare tell people on your blog about your problems you’ll get tons of abuse back “œhow DARE you be an Apple user and not know you needed to flash your PRAM.” Translation: any idiot can use a Mac, but not really.
3. If you dare complain about the brand promise you’ll get pounced on by hoardes of annonymous astroturfing Apple FanBois.
4. If you don’t get the brand promise of Apple don’t attempt to point out that the ads are ridiculous. Instead, just leave the cult and go back to using that “œinferior” machine you used to use.
5. Check out my new Mac, with its cool brushed metal surface and the light-up Apple logo.
6. If you use an Apple machine you will be as cool as Kevin Rose.

First of all, I’d like to apologize as a member of the Apple community for the actions of a few that get thrills from harassing anyone who speaks against Apple; fanboyism is fun, but its immature to flaunt in the face of someone who voices legitimate concerns.

There are people who visit this site that would call me a fanboy; however, I think being a fanboy means overlooking the faults of that which that fanboy supports in the interest of being a general ass.

I have, on many occasions, voiced complaints with the shoddiness of Apple’s MacBook displays, cracking cases, updates that cause more problems than they create, and more. I do love Apple, but I will admit there are problems.

In response to the list of brand image promises:

1.If your machine behaves badly, its your fault.

-Absolutely not. The MacBook I am writing on right now has a flickering display; I only have one machine, and I need it to write and do schoolwork, so I cannot afford to have it repaired right now. That doesn’t mean its my fault. Moreover, software issues are not always a result of user error; Apple has never alleged any of these things. Users have typified this mentality, and that has nothing to do with Apple’s brand image promises.

2. Any idiot can use an Apple machine, but not really (I’m shortening his rant).

- Any idiot or otherwise can use an Apple machine, just like anyone can use a Windows or Linux machine. When it comes to repairs, you can go about them in the same way you would with any other machine; trouble-shoot, roll-back or reinstall. In regards to hardware repairs, it can be frustrating to be forced to deal with the Genius Bar (which isn’t particularly “available” like they would like you to think.) Any idiot CAN use an Apple, but the elitist Apple community would have you believe its your fault because apparently there aren’t many who can admit nothing is perfect.

3. If you say anything against Apple you’ll catch hell from the fanboys (again a synopsis).

- You will catch hell from fanboys. Very rarely will you catch flack from mature satisfied users. However, if you choose to involve yourself in a close-knit online community of bloggers and readers, you’re going to catch hell for just about anything you say; its the nature of the beast.

4. Don’t talk about the poor quality of Apple’s ad campaign; if you don’t buy into it, get a Dell dude.

- I find many of the ads quite humorous, with a caveat: they are meant to feed the image of Apple users that Apple users created. Apple buys into the community now because elitism sells machines. You don’t have to get upset when someone says something about you not liking the ads; maybe you shouldn’t complain about the ads, and maybe they shouldn’t take it personally. No harm, no foul.

The last two I won’t even dignify with a response. Here’s where Apple’s brand image stands in relation to the Apple and technology communities:

Apple doesn’t make perfect products. Apple never said they do; the community likes to think, at times, they’re superior to everyone, and that’s ridiculous. However, fanboys will be fanboys; if you start a fire about Apple being better or worse than something else, do you honestly expect anything less than controversy? The same goes for politics, religion, or sexual preference. If you don’t like it, don’t write about it.

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2 Responses to “Should Apple’s brand image be contested?”

  1. trevorblanco:

    Yea, my macbook has this display issue where if you set the back ground to grey you notice a subtle flicker like the old time televisions sets from the 50′s. Looks like electrical interference from the internal fan. It’s not the flicker described by some as the screen alternately goes dim and bright again. Do these sound like your issue Triston?

  2. Ken:

    Since my referring to you as a fanboy seems to have precipitated this, I’ll flesh it out for you.
    From Wikipedia:

    Stereotypical fanboys are attributed with a sycophantic devotion to the creators and principles behind a work with which they are currently enthralled. Fanboys are noted for a very emotional attachment to their chosen subject, often taking negative remarks about it as a personal attack. They will readily engage in debates, but will fall back on emotional responses when challenged on facts. For example, a fanboy may go out of his way to point out negative and often untrue statements about their obsession’s rivals.

    1.If your machine behaves badly, its your fault.

    So you never wrote this in an entry asking if customer care is failing? :
    http://mac.blorge.com/2007/10/13/is-apples-customer-care-failing/

    “The answer is, decidedly, no. Apple is still producing products that are heads and tails superior to any of the competition; the reason there is a perceived drop in quality and service is, simply put, that there is a flood of new customers that expect complete perfection, and are easily upset by an iota of imperfection.”

    Some would take that as blaming the users.

    From:
    http://mac.blorge.com/2007/10/01/5-reasons-youll-go-macand-not-look-back/

    1. Your new Mac doesn’t have a built in expiration date; what I mean by that is, unlike that shiny new Dell or Gateway you purchased 2 years ago that just doesn’t seem to have what it takes anymore, your Mac will last as long as you like it to. One such example is Apple’s older G4 processor machines; though running (natively) an operating system two iterations back, they still function very well, and are more than capable of running the current OS without problems.

    And here from “Need a Mac on a budget”:

    “First, its important to note that Macs, unlike Windows-based machines, do not depreciate at fast rates. The reason for this is Macs have longer lasting value and performance than their Windows-based competitors.”

    Or it could be a closed system with one source of supply keeps the price artificially high.In this article:
    http://mac.blorge.com/2007/11/07/apple-macs-really-really-are-cheaper-than-windows-machines/
    You link to a writer who takes the price of a new PC for $699 and a Mac mini that sold for $800. No mention was made of the PC probably having a mouse, keyboard and monitor included in the price. Anyway, he looks at the prices on Ebay one year later. The PC is going for $250, the Mini is $500. I commented that you could get a dual core Dell with a 17″ LCD monitor with a three year in home warranty for $550. Take the $250 from the PC sale, put in another $300 and you get more powerful current technology. Take the $500 dollars for the Mini add the same $300 and you get essentially the same Mini you’re selling. The reason PC’s devalue quicker is the open nature and competition mean you can get more power for less money. All you’ve proven is you can overspend on a used Mac. You might have at least, touched on this in your next article for a more balanced view. That’s a pretty basic journalistic rule.

    You keep writing this over and over. I’ve asked several times for some kind of validation. XP has been around 6 years. I’ve installed XP on machines that came with 98. They it ran no problem, although some needed a RAM upgrade. People with PPC G4′s with less than 800 mhz processors that were still being sold 4 years ago can’t/shouldn’t run Leopard.

    Here’s some quotes from Triston from various entries over the last year:

    “If you must use Windows, use it until October. After that, be done with it, and don’t look back; after all…would you walk down the street with a bag lady, or drive around in a beat up jalopy by choice? If you wouldn’t, why on earth associate yourself with Windows?”

    “There’s a great deal of irony in the way Apple has taken steps to perfect Boot Camps for Leopard, when the idea of tainting the great OS with a low-life OS is sickening, at best.”

    So yeah, that’s why I called you a fanboy. I’ve never called you a Mactard or anything of that nature. I’ve never said Apple makes shoddy merchandise. The majority of my comments are made to question some of the marketing ideas and theories that seem at odds with the actual world as I see it. I try to back up my comments with examples and why I disagree. If you don’t want to address the arguments, and keep writing as if they were never brought up, that’s also fine. This is your sandbox. Just don’t get too hung up if you’re called a fanboy.

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