Feeds

Apple as a religion: How the iPhone became divine

'Imbued with sacred significance'

Business security measures using SSL

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.

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch
For decades Hollywood actually binned its 4K files. Doh!
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID
Cheap and deafening mobes for the subcontinental masses
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
A SCORCHIO fatboy SSD: Samsung SSD850 PRO 3D V-NAND
4Gb/s speeds on a consumer drive, anyone?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.