Gimme That Old-Time (Apple) Religion: Researchers

Apple's fans are so devoted that they have been called a "cult." A pair of researchers at Texas A&M have gone still further. The professors, Heidi A. Campbell and Antonio C. La Pastina have written a paper that says the sheer adoration and lack of fault-finding by Apple fans isn't a cult, but a religion.

The iPhone, after all, has been nicknamed the "Jesus Phone," and long before the researchers used that term in their own paper. According to the researchers, it's this devotion to the church of Apple that keeps users defending its products, even in the face of overwhelming evidence of a real flaw. Apple, it seems, can do no wrong.

Fox News spoke to one of the researchers:
"The religious-like behavior and language surrounding Apple devotion/fandom is an example of 'implicit religion,'" Prof. Heidi Campbell, one of the authors of the study, told Implicit religion can happen when the use of, say, technology becomes a substitute for belief and behaviors once attached to religion and religious practice, she said.

That, according to the authors, explains why fans still believe when the leader of the Church of Apple, Steve Jobs, blames consumers for the poor reception of the company's cell phone (clearly, users are holding their phones incorrectly). In fact, they flock to buy the device despite its serious design flaws.
That's all true, but most would prefer to label such behavior as "fanboyism." Android users have been shown to be pretty vehement in defense of their own products. The possibility of a Church of Apple has been lampooned before by both the Simpsons and Futurama, however.

Other somewhat questionable links between religion and Apple, according to the story:
  • Apple's creation story epitomizes the humble garage origin of its technology -- not unlike the humble manger of Jesus' birth (of course, plenty of other companies were started the same way)
  • Apple CEO Steve Jobs is perceived as a messianic leader who was fired but rose again to save the company.
  • Apple has traditionally had an evil archenemy, the Devil, as represented first by Microsoft and now by Google.
We'd have to say that a lot of the above is a big stretch. Still, the almost blind adoration is undeniable. It's not an issue when something is done well. It's when something is obviously flawed (like the iPhone 4 and Antennagate) and yet many will blindly ignore it, that is seems somewhat crazy.