What will become of the ‘Cult of Mac’ now that Apple has become ubiquitous?

“Few businessmen have captured the public’s consciousness as effectively as Steven Paul Jobs of Apple Computer and, now, Disney. Few American CEOs are idolized, much less made the central subject of two movies (Pirates of Silicon Valley and Triumph of the Nerds) and more than 10 by and large fawning books that herald his genius. Most recently, Jobs has managed to do for portable music what he did for personal computing in the 1980s – make it not merely practical but cool,” Kristiano Ang writes for PopMatters.

Ang writes, “Jobs, now 51, wasn’t supposed to end up at the pinnacle of a Fortune 500 company (let alone two). The story of how he launched a technological revolution from the once humble but now proverbial Silicon Valley garage with erstwhile partner Steven Wozniak has become a legend, an illustration of the American Dream in action.”

“Jobs was slated to become Time‘s Man of the Year in 1982 until sources within Apple painted an unflattering portrait of him (Macintosh engineer Jef Raskin famously proclaiming that Jobs would have ‘made an excellent King of France’), and he lost out to the personal computer itself,” Ang writes.

“Eventually Jobs’s reputation would soar because of his association with Macintosh, the machine Newsweek editor Steven Levy has called “the computer that changed everything.” Never mind the fact that Jobs had at first binned the project: only after Apple’s board forcibly removed him from his pet project, the Lisa, an expensive business-market computer (it cost almost $10,000 in 1983) now regarded as one of the company’s biggest blunders, would he become connected to the Macintosh and claim credit for it, pushing its actual inventor, Raskin, out of the spotlight,” Ang writes.

Ang writes, “In 1985, Jobs was booted from Apple after clashing with his anointed successor, former Pepsi CEO John Sculley, (Jobs had lured him to Apple with the now immortal sales pitch, “Would you rather spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or would you rather change the world?) and spent the better part of the next decade wasting Ross Perot’s money at NeXT Computer. NeXT’s technology, which featured support for graphics and audio within e-mail and technologies such as Ethernet ports, that have become part and parcel of computing today, was supposed to be the next big thing, and computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, regarded as the father of the Internet, developed the first version of the World Wide Web on a NeXT machine. But like Lisa, it was overpriced for its time and never found popular acceptance.”

“Jobs’s fortuitous involvement with animation studio Pixar, however, kept him afloat, and in 1996, he returned to Apple in time for the candy-colored iMac, which would shake up a design-challenged PC industry in which style meant black or beige, and the iPod, which moved music to computers and launched an industry that still hasn’t found its ceiling,” Ang writes.

Ang writes, “As significant as the Macintosh or the iPod may be, neither of these may constitute Jobs’s most important contribution to our culture. Instead, it may be his ability to bridge between the two vastly differing fields of entertainment and technology, smoothing the way for portable digital video on demand, that makes up the third and most significant act of Jobs’s career.”

More in the full article, in which Ang tries to say that “Mac cultists” may just “switch” from the Mac to Linux as the Mac gains popularity, here.

MacDailyNews Take: We do not believe that Mac users are switching to Linux in any significant numbers and Ang offers no evidence to support that assertion save for one anecdote from a blogger. Apple’s growing Mac unit sales also refute Ang’s story. As for NeXT, which Ang describes as a “waste of money that never found popular acceptance,” Ang does not seem to understand that, in effect, NeXT took over Apple in 1997, keeping the Apple Computer company name, and that Mac OS X, with some 20 million users and the subject of feverish copying by Microsoft for Windows Vista, was born from NeXT’s NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP operating system. NeXT was certainly not a “waste of money that never found popular acceptance.” To answer our headline, the “cult” will grow.

Related articles:
You want back into the Mac market? Apologize to Mac users first – September 04, 2006
Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ ultimate goal: ‘to take back the computer business from Microsoft’ – June 16, 2005
NeXT’s OPENSTEP up and running on a MacBook Pro – April 25, 2006
The man who named Apple’s Macintosh, GUI pioneer Jef Raskin dies at 61 – February 27, 2005
How Apple evolved NeXTSTEP into Mac OS X – November 13, 2004
Inventor of World Wide Web uses Apple PowerBook, Mac OS X, and Safari browser – September 23, 2003


  1. Is Apple still innovating?

    Does Apple still stand for bigger, greater , more adventurous horizons?

    The answer is yes.

    Market share has been hard won by Apple, now that its market share is increasing is a testiment to its continual ability to be lead by its own vision of the future, not by what others deem it to be.

    The fortune favours the brave.

  2. You can switch operating systems back and forth, who cares. They have Macs, therefore they have choice. Let them run windows too. I doesn;t matter the bigger picture is that the personal computer revolution will continue. An uninformed word smith can spin any story they choose. The only question for people out there in the Mac community will be…

    Will Apple still act like Apple once Steve decides he needs to leave?

  3. Mac OS X is a Unix variant having great commonality with the Open Source world. Linux is a close cousin to the BSD foundations of OS X. Open Source, including Linux, and OS X are not at war with one another. For example; Apple is redefining a key underpinning of its OS X programming tools, Objective C, to include automatic garbage collection. This major change – and it is a huge improvement – will be contributed to the gcc Open Source compiler project. Apple is in a win/win/lose game; Apple wins, Open Source – including Linux wins and Microsoft loses. It doesn’t get any better than that.

    And Apple is gaining, not losing, the cool factor. Yes, there will always be the anal retentive purists who hate success and will abandon the Mac in a snit. Their numbers are ignorable.

    With virtualization, I will always keep a hand in Linux and experiment with whatever the Open Source folks brew up. But in case you have not noted, the best of it gets compiled for the Mac anyway.

  4. Switch?
    Already running win for games, linux for the web/file/ftp-server (would run os x on it but os x doesn’t run very well on a PIII 800MHz ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” /> ) and i have the mac for the rest and loving it (well i actually love the games more than i hate windows so i put up with it)

  5. The day I switch to Linux is the day they take my copy of OS X out of my cold, dead hands.

    Linux linux linux. It’s almost like a running joke. That it’s going to be a big hit. That it’s going to do XYZ. But it never does. It’s like Microsoft. All bark, and no bite.

  6. LOL now all of a sudden the media declares the Mac ubiquitous.

    One minute the Mac is secure because it’s such a tiny share of the market, the next, it’s losing its uniquness because it’s everywhere. Which is it? Is it tiny, or big?

    Why would anyone switch from Mac to Linux? Mac OSX offers many of the things Linux people desire but with 20+ years of OS refinement, software base, and familiarity. It’s a ridiculous notion.

    The “cult” will just be bigger. Not all people ‘get’ the Mac, but there are a lot of people out there who WOULD get it if they knew the truth about it and had some exposure to it. Now with Apple removing most obstacles to switching, and providing the Windows security blanket, people have no reason to take advantage of their chance to leave behind the crapware they’ve been stuck with for years.

  7. Get real here — Macs are still a small minority, and PC users still mostly view them as exotic zoo creatures.

    A PC friend who loves his iPod, still regards my Macs as weirdness and ‘he can’t program them like he can his PC’ whatever that means.

    Even if Apple hits 10 percent, it will still be a minority — the cult will be somewhat bigger is all.

  8. He didn’t say “Mac users are switching to Linux”. He quoted O’Reilly books editor Brian Sawyer who noted on his blog how “… geeks were switching away from Apple to Linux…” – and it’s true … kinda … sorta. The geekiest of both Windows and Mac worlds are at least flirting with Linux. There are even a few from the Mac world switching to Windows. These changes are not always personal choices – some are work-related.

    Linux, regardless of its other good or bad points, does not make a particularly good “consumer desktop”. Macs, on the other hand, make excellent “consumer desktops”. No point in belaboring what Windows is “good” for.

    Mac will remain a “cult” option until it exceeds ~10% in whatever market you are discussing. It may well be about to lose that status as a consumer desktop while maintaining it as a “business desktop” – and just barely in the running in the server room. Still … if you choose to measure a “cult” as one demanding unreasoning acceptance based on faith rather than demonstrable fact – NOW who’s the ‘cult’?

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