NYU professor: Apple is so obviously a cult

“In more ancient times, when communal experiences were mediated by religion, crowds used to gather outside temples on feast days. In Biblical times, for instance, on pilgrimage holidays like Passover, Jewish people were supposed to travel to Jerusalem, to be present at the Holy Temple, where the High Priest would make a sacrifice to God,” Sarah Laskow writes for Atlas Obscura. “Nowadays, we have Apple Release Day—the Feast of St. Jobs—when faithful customers gather outside Apple stores and await the renewal of a next generation iPhone.”

“But is the Apple store really like a sacred space? To find out, Atlas Obscura brought a cultural historian to a Manhattan location for some feedback,” Laskow writes. “One of the first lessons from Erica Robles-Anderson, a professor at New York University, is that the collective experience of an Apple release does not come about by chance. Not far from the Apple Store in SoHo, one of New York’s high-end shopping districts, a Samsung store opened recently. ‘They had giant ropes outside, as if anticipating a giant crowd, and big bouncer-looking people in fancy suits,’ she says. ‘And then…crickets.’ The problem wasn’t just a lack of PR. ‘It was a deep misunderstanding about special access, as opposed to what Apple has built, which is the feeling of being in it together, as though you were fighting something,’ Robles-Anderson says, ‘even though it’s the most valuable company in the world.'”

“‘They feel iconic, like an emblem of the personal,’ says Robles-Anderson. ‘And yet it’s a cult. Right? It’s so obviously a cult,'” Laskow writes. “On our way to the SoHo Apple store, just around noon, we pass the beginnings of a line, forming in anticipation of the release of the iPhone 6s… ‘The oversized doors are fantastic,’” says Robles-Anderson. ‘There’s no reason for them.’ They’re there only to communicate that this place is important. Also, they’re heavy, like church doors, to give purpose and portent to the entry into the space.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Fellow cultists, Apple indoctrination is being held at an Apple Retail Store near you. Don’t miss your chance at enlightenment! Following indoctrination we’ll all hop into the vans, light the candles, and go door to door selling iTunes Gift Cards, watching Apple Watch ads on our Apple Watches, and soliciting Mac switchers. As usual, the Kool-aid reception is planned for midnight – all are welcome. Do not forget your robes!

(Force Touching is prohibited during all cult gatherings. Always bring extra stickers.)

Donald Luskin: Apple a cult that will someday be buried in tech graveyard – February 12, 2015
The ‘cult’ of the Apple Retail Store – July 10, 2013
TIME Magazine cover story: ‘The Cult of Apple in China’ – June 21, 2012
Apple, the other cult in Hollywood – May 11, 2012
ExtremeTech writer: The worst thing about Apple Macs are the Apple cultists – October 10, 2007
Financial Times hack fearfully employs hackneyed ‘cult’ smear tactic against Apple iPhone, Mac users – June 28, 2007
The Inquirer reports on attack of Apple cultists, blames MacDailyNews for inciting ‘email fatwa’ – March 3, 2006
Boston Herald writer: Jobs, high priest of Apple’s bizarre cult, better unveil something spectacular – January 7, 2006
Newsday writer: ‘Apple iSight is the natural choice for Mac cultists’ – December 13, 2005
USA Today columnist calls Mac users and Apple fans a ‘cult of blind little lemmings’ – September 16, 2005
Exuding smugness, the Mac cult minority believe they have seen the truth – April 21, 2005
The Daily Oklahoman: Apple has created millions of fanatical ‘Macheads’ who display cult-like devotion – May 14, 2004

[Attribution: Forbes. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. “‘They feel iconic, like an emblem of the personal,’ says Robles-Anderson. ‘And yet it’s a cult. Right? It’s so obviously a cult,’” Laskow writes.


    “They make stuff that works real good, so a lotta people buy their stuff that works real good with money they earned so they can have stuff that works real good.”

  2. speaking of cults:

    A spokesman for pharmaceutical company, Hoffman-LaRoche, the makers of Valium®, noted in a press release early Tuesday, that “The Democratic Debate may unfairly threaten the sales of our flagship drug. We adamantly oppose the broadcast of this debate pursuant to the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1967 and intend to take immediate legal action against CNN, the DNC and candidates involved.”

      1. No doubt those were the days. In 81 while working at the Byte Shop in Seattle, I sponsored and helped start an Atari User Group. We were the S*P*A*C*E Group (Seattle Puget-Sound Atari Computer Enthusiast). Does that make us aliens?

      1. I’m an NYU professor, AND a card carrying Apple Cult member! Hail Jobs! (NYU is not a 3rd rate university, its rather well ranked). But my fellow professors do constantly embarrass me, though mostly the social science ones, who often ARE morons.

  3. In a way she is right that Apple is almost a religion. We do make multiple donations a year to the Church of Apple and vigorously defend the existence of Jobs to anyone who cares to listen.
    One difference though, Apple has not yet claimed that buying their goods will help your passage to the afterlife. I did ask one of the blue shirted brethren about this a few weeks and his response was that warranties are limited to 2-3 years and cannot be transferred to other planes of existence. Bummer.

  4. “opposed to what Apple has built, which is the feeling of being in it together, as though you were fighting something:

    Those of us that have been Apple users since the early 90’s know this all too well… Fighting IT Admins, Dept. budgets, and pompous windows users, all because we knew it was better! I most certainly felt like I was in it with my fellow Apple users. Feels good to be vindicated all these years later!

  5. Yes, this NYU professor is pretty clueless, she would have it much easier arguing the case that organized churches are corporations (that should be taxed…).

    Steve Jobs mission with Apple was very simple: use technology to unleash human creativity, period. If you want to wrap a belief system around this simple objective you can call it humanism, which would put Steve in good company.

    This is the opposite of a “cult”, it’s the opposite of religion, since there’s nothing ‘otherworldly’ about this.

  6. If Apple is a cult, it is more in the likeness of ancient Roman times. How about this? Instead of cult, why not culture?

    Apple does not replace one’s own personal religion. I would think, hope, that we have not idolized any component. Certainly we do not “pray” to any aspect of Apple.

    Cult is stretching it.

  7. That is rich, coming from a professor. Umm, I wonder if they ever look around from their great halls and great doors. Sometimes it is often difficult for them, professors, to see the details on technology when they, themselves, are still prattling along in the 19th century.

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