A History of Apple & Innovation: Mythology of the Apple Brand & Commodity Camaraderie
Design communities are awash with subcultures that are bound together by common production goals or the use of similar production tools, many of which are built around computer driven media. Unlike historical cultures where formation is often bound by the constraints of geography, time and space, technocultures are able to bridge oceans and continents in seconds and have very little prohibiting their spread of common goals, ideals or beliefs. Apple’s ability to construct a technoculture around its brand ethos and products has allowed them to create a loyal customer following. Lunenfeld described this phenomenon as “commodity camaraderie”, and notes that;
“Digital artists find themselves stripped of the ethos around which most previous artistic communities were founded. Beyond neophilia and millennarianissium, around what centralizing concept can these artists build community? I would propose that the cohesive force binding them together is less a shared sense of destiny than the common use of similar tools-what I refer to as “commodity camaraderie.” - Peter Lunenfeld, Snap to Grid (2000, p.4)
Apple’s relationships with universities and other creative institutions is often used to reinforce the construction of technocultures formed around Apple’s products and further contributes to commodity camaraderie in this context. By reinforcing students’ perception of themselves and the products and tools they use as been “creative” or “innovative” in a broader sense, Apple reinforce the notion of a self perceived design elite. Apple has succeeded in creating cohesion between its company ethos and that of the personalities found within design cultures. Web designers, graphic designers, video editors and other such digital artists have always sought to reinforce their own perception of themselves as being creative; Apple only helps to further reassure these creative’s that this is in fact the case.
“Commodity camaraderie, generated by this contact, creates a sense of neo-community that is palpable at a massive trade show like Macworld. This show, which concentrates on products and services for the users of machines manufactured by Apple Computer, Inc, was famously successful in creating a conspiratorial cohesiveness among its participants. The official corporate pronouncements of Apple, the editorial content of magazines like the now-defunct MacUser, and the buzz on the trade-show floor all combined to reassure Apple Customers that they were creative, rebellious, and right on the edge.” - Peter Lunenfeld, Snap to Grid (2000, p.4)
Supporting Education; iTunes U
As well as reinforcing the construction of Apple centric technocultures by positioning their products within educational institutions, Apple has intuitively created iTunes U, to facilitate the spread of educational media (podcasts, videos etc) within a closed environment that makes up part of the Apple iTunes product infrastructure. By doing so Apple further constructs a link between the institutions that produce and educate the next generation of Apple users, while facilitating the spread of useful and informative content that serves to attract new audiences into its closed structure. Apple describes iTunes U as follows;
“iTunes U — a powerful distribution system for everything from lectures to language lessons, films to labs, audiobooks to tours — is an innovative way to get educational content into the hands of students.” - (Apple, 2010)
So what about you? Are you an allegiant Apple user; have you ever thought about why? Or are you a PC user through and thru? Please fuel the debate and let us know what you think.