AMRIT DHILLON | 12 SEPTEMBER, 2016
A Rant: It's the Church of Apple at Worship!!
A disclaimer upfront. I do not possess an i-Phone so feel free, you Apple users, to say envy is behind the bitterness in my tone but am I the only person in the world bored silly with Apple and the i-Phone? With the awestruck oh-my-god sensationalism that surrounds the launch of every new model? With the juvenility of it all?
Newspaper headlines are shrieking about the i-Phone 7 and its new features as though the laws of relativity have been proved wrong. The i-Phone is beyond celebrity, beyond fame, beyond iconic brand. It is a mythical object worthy of adoration, like the golden fleece in ancient times that symbolized authority and kingship. It is something that will change your life and reveal the mysteries of the universe.
It’s just a phone, I keep thinking profanely as i-Phone 7 is launched.
A second disclaimer. I know little about smart phones apart from using them for the internet, to make calls, make shopping lists, text, WhatsApp, and take pictures, I know little about their more arcane aspects. My eyes glaze over when the new features of the i-Phone (or any smartphone for that matter) draw raptures. How much of a difference can there be between the last model’s features and those of the new one? Ten per cent? Five per cent? How much difference can there in the sharpness of the screen resolution? And why does another hour of two of battery life quicken the pulse of Apple addicts?
Yes, I grant you that the fact that this latest model is water-resistant is significant but when I hear excited yelps about the absence of a headphone jack, I am left cold.
But far worse is the self-adulatory, narcissistic preening of Apple at the unveiling of the phone. That whole staged set piece with the gigantic screen, the dense blackness surrounding the figure of Steve Jobs and the huge empty stage is an exercise in self-congratulation, conceit, and pomposity. It’s a setting for a mystical revelation worthy of early Christendom. The audience, sitting in hushed reverence, wants to believe, wants to have faith, wants a light to shine from heaven. It’s the Church of Apple at worship.
This rubbish was bad enough when Jobs did it; at least he had the gravitas and aura of the founder. Tim Cook has no presence to speak of. He’s too nondescript. Apple is a cult among its buyers and here’s the problem I have. These are meant to be young, trendy, smart and fashionable people, perhaps even a touch cynical as usually happens with sophisticated, worldly people. Yet they behave like sheep who can’t see self-aggrandisement when it’s thrust in their face.
They cheered when Cook merely mentioned the word i-Phone in the launch speech. They seem not to realize that the cult which Apple has built around itself is simply taking the usual breathless self-praise found in the annual reports of any average large company, to another, more highfalutin and pretentious level.
Apple deals in the same old tosh of any old multinational with its talk of how it is ‘committed’, how it is fuelled by ‘passion’, how it is driven by certain ‘values’, of how ‘customer satisfaction’ is its guiding light, blah blah blah. If a boring old-style Chinese company were to take itself so seriously, we would all laugh at it for being so uncool.
During the launch this week, Apple Vice President Phil Schiller was quoted as saying that the rationale for jettisoning the headphone jack could be summed up in one word: “Courage.” He added: ‘The courage to move on, and to try something new that betters all of us.” Courage? Is Apple claiming moral, as well as corporate and technological virtue?
In a pre-launch ad for the i-Phone 7, Apple said ‘the i-Phone 7 will give us things we can’t live without’. In his launch speech, Cook called the i-Phone a ‘cultural phenomenon’ that has ‘touched so many lives all around the world’. Is this a cure for cancer or is it a phone? Apple can be as pretentious as hell but it’s still fashionable.
Even if I had money to throw around on over-rated gadgets, I wouldn’t buy anything from a company that was so full of itself it thinks its rear end grows roses. And I certainly wouldn’t buy something from a company that doesn’t pay its taxes and, moreover, doesn’t even have the decency to look embarrassed about it.