Feeds

Apple as a religion: How the iPhone became divine

'Imbued with sacred significance'

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Apple lovers vs. Apple haters is a common theme on the tech forums. Some think that there is a consumer psychology dynamic at play, that turns us into Brand Evangelists or Brand Talibans.

Two American academics, admittedly new media academics, Heidi Campbell and Antonio La Pastina, take a different tack in comparing Apple to religion, in a paper published in May: "How the iPhone became Divine: New Media, Religion and the Intertextual Circulation of Meaning."

Not religion in the sense of believing in the divine, but in implicit religion, Campbell of Texas A&M University says. "That's where secular artifacts get imbued with religious-like or sacred significance," she tells ABC News. Some kind of Techno-Shinto-ism, then?

The notion of implicit religion is well enough known - and its association with Apple has been made before - see this paper from 2001: "May the Force of the Operating System be with You: Mac Devotion as Implicit Religion".

It all seems very post-modern-silly, but are the Texans on to something?

If you say, 'I'm a Mac user,' people expect you to have those Mac user values."

They seize on the phrase "Jesus Phone", coined in 2006 by Gizmodo editor Brian Lam (which has made its appearance in 144 articles on The Register, thanks, Brian), as an ironic take on Apple's iPhone.

The Jesus Phone is something that Apple fans regard as uncomplimentary - and this phrase annoys the hell out of some Christians - we've felt the flames. But it is religious iconography at work, "easy, decodable," say our academics.

Pump up the volume

You want a religious narrative too? How about...The Return of Jobs from the Wilderness, Microsoft as Satan - you get the drift, as do Apple devotees.

Also, Apple has at times juiced up the religious metaphors, as this bombastic quote from 1987 bears witness:

In the Old Testament there was the first apple, the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, which with one taste sent Adam, Eve, and all mankind into the great current of History. The second Apple was Isaac Newton's, the symbol of our entry into the age of modern science. The Apple Computer symbol was not chosen purely at random, it represents the third Apple, the one that widens the paths of knowledge leading toward the future. - Jean-Louis Gassee, then General Manager of Apple France and former President of Apple Products.

Leander Kahneny, editor of Cult of Mac, who should know better, has this to say to ABC news:

"If you're joining a church, you're joining a community. And when you buy an Apple product, you're joining the Apple community. Just as new church members learn the myths, rites and values, new Apple users start to learn the myths and rituals supported by other "believers…It definitely becomes part of someone's identity. It's somewhat akin to saying, 'I'm a Christian, If you say 'I'm a Christian,' people will expect you to have certain values and if you say, 'I'm a Mac user,' people expect you to have those Mac user values."

So readers, do Mac user values exist? If so, what are those values and can they survive the huge influx of Apple product-owning newbies. Or will we leave implicit religion to the Elvis die-hards, and Star Trek nuts?

Do try to avoid name calling.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Shaves price, not screen on mid-2014 model
iPhone 6 flip tip slips in Aussie's clip: Apple's 'reversible USB' leaks
New plug not compatible with official Type-C, according to fresh rumors
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.