The Apple iCult.

Just SOME of the Apple products we had laying about the MM office.

Half an hour after we published an edited version of this article, the death of Apple’s co-founder and chief architect Steve Jobs was announced to the world.

And while it didn’t seem right to leave this story up initially, it was in its own way a weird tribute to this empire of technology that has changed our lives.

The one that, almost single-handedly, came from the genius mind of Steve Jobs.

Advertisement

As with all success stories there are darker sides and nothing is perfect.

My friends think I’m single. But that’s not quite the whole truth. They don’t know I have a partner. Black, thin, loves to be touched.

It’s name is the iPhone 3GS and our romance has lasted more than two years. Wait. Hold your disdain.

Researcher Martin Lindstrom thought what we all pretended to know: that our involvement with our Apple products (but particularly our phones) was like an intense addiction the likes of heroin addicts, drug users and alcoholics. An addiction of the mind and technology. But when he got around to carrying out detailed scans of the brain he discovered that something else was a better fit.

Turns out we aren’t addicted to our iPhones. We’re in love with them:

“As a branding consultant, I have followed Apple from its early days as a cult brand to its position today as one of the most valuable, widely admired companies on earth. A few years back, I conducted an experiment to examine the similarities between some of the world’s strongest brands and the world’s greatest religions. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) tests, my team looked at subjects’ brain activity as they viewed consumer images involving brands like Apple and Harley-Davidson and religious images like rosary beads and a photo of the pope. We found that the brain activity was uncannily similar when viewing both types of imagery.

This past summer, I gathered a group of 20 babies between the ages of 14 and 20 months. I handed each one a BlackBerry. No sooner had the babies grasped the phones than they swiped their little fingers across the screens as if they were iPhones, seemingly expecting the screens to come to life. It appears that a whole new generation is being primed to navigate the world of electronics in a ritualized, Apple-approved way.”

I get it. It’s not just my connection to a phone. It’s a connection to my Apple phone. I’m not necessarily proud of being such a corporate sycophant (rebellion was never my strong point) but then I must also confess that I genuinely love their products.

The day I unwrapped my black and silver number from Apple was like being shot from a cannon and into a better world. I half expected a phone call from some top security, classified Government agency after-the-fact explaining that we also had flying cars, invisibility cloaks and space elevators.

My relationship since then has swung dangerously between endearing love (think: Lassie) and obsession (think: any teen slasher flick where the bad guy is a scorned lover). I jealously guard my phone. I react similarly to the characters from Romeo and Juliet in the end-scene-tragedy when I drop it on the floor. My phone has seen me naked.

Does anybody else have any concerns that the new office design looks like a particle accelerator?

Don’t believe me: just look at the collective conniption the world had yesterday when Apple decided to release an iPhone 4S instead of an iPhone 5. It wasn’t just disappointment. It was a meltdown. There were tears. Anger. I counted the seven signs of grief. And a couple of new ones.

One wry tweeter commented: “So, let me get this straight, all Apple had to do was call it an iPhone 5 and everything would have been OK?”

But the religiosity of the experience has aided in something slightly more sinister: the complete avoidance of the Apple creation story. Not the company, the products.

They come from dangerous factories where workers die to make-them. It’s no dandy Santa workshop like we’d love to believe. For every Apple icon you own, a factory worker (or thousands) has suffered incredibly to bring it to you. Apple argues it’s doing the hard yards in improving conditions … but can you call it ‘winning’ if fewer people died to make your product than your competitors? That’s not a claim to fame. But that is the reality.

On share price alone this amalgam of stark factories and the aura of the cult has valued Apple at more than $300 billion, give or take a few lazy billions here and there.

Yet here I am. My love persists. One of the most powerful companies in the world that doesn’t carve their products individually from large chunks of Awesome like they’d have us believe and still I’m along for the ride. All the warning signs are there, of course. Apples have been associated with plenty of legendary bad in our collective conscience. Adam and Eve were brought undone by one. Snow White was nearly killed by one.

Just what are they playing at?

As one commentator recalled:

“Why is it, a friend of mine once pondered, that Microsoft is “evil” and Apple is “lovely” when the guy who started Microsoft was now doing his utmost to eradicate malaria, and the guy who started Apple was still in charge of an enormous, all-pervasive company that does its utmost to screw you six times before breakfast”

That was a few weeks before Jobs stepped from as the head of Apple … and the world mourned like it had lost an Apostle.

Still, the cult continues.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a hot date with my phone.

Are you an Apple fan or foe? Why?

While we’re on the subject, check out this gallery of Things Apple is Worth More Than:

FROM OUR NETWORK
JOIN THE CONVERSATION