CSM My Digital Life Workshop, 26 Feb 2013
GROUP 4: Need vs. Desire: The Apple Cult Rita Fernandez, Liam Buswell
Thanks to Laura North for taking notes in the group discussion after the presentation. The following is an edited version of her notes:
Following the presentation we discussed the ‘Apple monopoly’ – the extremely widespread ownership of Apple Macs, iPhones and other products both at CSM and in culture more broadly. Does it matter? What are the socio-political and ideological implications of conforming to the Apple monopoly? How is CSM as an institution supporting the monopoly? (At CSM, there is not a requirement to own a specific product, but students are advised to get Macs rather than PCs for their course work).
The group suggested that the strong desire for Apple products is created in part through the company’s excellent marketing, and it was noted that Apple use quite obvious, pseudo-religious language in their ad campaigns. We discussed whether the desire to own a Mac product is about capability, or style/trend/inclusion – the inference being that the latter is more important to consumers.
We also talked about how easy Apple have made it for people to create a technological ecosystem by syncing their devices – and conversely, how hard it would be to disentangle yourself from this ecosystem.
It was noted that paradoxically, Mac products which were originally marketed as providing a creative alternative to the office worker’s PC, are now so ubiquitous that they no longer represent creativity and independence, but conformity. Following this, people are starting to customise their Apple products. The group were sceptical, however, about how meaningful these customisations are beyond a surface or aesthetic level. It was noted that customising the actual operating system is a much more difficult and specialised thing to do.
One participant noted that the Macbook Air is so light that she once accidentally threw hers in the bin amongst a pile of papers!