The crowds went wild once again as Apple showcased its latest iPhone, the iPhone 7, at an event on September 7 in San Francisco. With an improved camera, waterproof shell and the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, there seems to be quite a stir among enthusiasts for the iPhone’s latest features.
Though on the surface it may appear that Apple is in the business of making computers and phones, a deeper reflection reveals the existence of an unusually influential culture. Crafted by both Apple marketers and hardcore devotees of the brand, Apple has produced a quality of devotion in its adherents eerily similar to the type of devotion made by religion.
Indeed, Apple has achieved at least some of a burgeoning faith’s key requirements, such as: places of worship (elegant retail locations with minimal and standardized designs), rituals (always updating, always upgrading), regular attendance (early adopters who brave the elements to be the first in line for the latest Apple products), the clergy (hipsters in blue shirts), central figure of devotion (Steve Jobs, who by many is hailed as a demi-god) and redemption (AppleCareTM).
Seriously though, is it possible that there is more to the phenomenon of Apple than simply meets the eye? Have we, in our increasing rejection of traditional religion, begun to export our devotions, with a portion of the same dogmatism and bigotry, from classic religion to a form of technological religion—a belief that in and through technology (and in particular the brand ironically symbolized by the Eve-bitten Apple) we can find connection and meaning? One need only observe the Pentecostal-style jubilee surrounding anything Apple-related to realize that an increasingly large portion of the world’s population are now devoted entirely and unapologetically to Appleism, a system far more important to many millennials than traditional religion ever will be.
For those of us who wish to remain free from the constraints associated with sainthood, technological or otherwise, we can still enjoy the benefit of knowing that Apple products and stores will always be the same whether we live in Beijing or Boise. So, Jobs bless, and remember to install that update you’ve been putting off for weeks—Steve may be watching.