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Inside Apple's "Fanboy" Culture


Are the company's fans a unique breed? Well, yes.

Hey Mac Head: Would you sleep with a PC user? Of course not. Think of the awkward pillow talk, never mind the potential for confused offspring. Well, worry not. Now there's a dating service to ensure hands that touch Windows (MSFT) will never touch yours. It's called Cupidtino and if you're a PC user you've never seen it-access is possible only via Apple (AAPL) products.

It was inevitable really. Considering the number of couples who marry within their own faith, the arrival Cupidtino is only natural. While PC users are likely to shop for a computer based on features and price, Apple users tend to buy for religious reasons.

Old Macs have become aquariums and stereo speakers; one Mac tower that no longer received email was adapted to catch snail mail instead. iPhone thong underwear has perhaps eased the transition for geeks previously accustomed only to cybersex.

A documentary, MacHeads, detailed the habits and behavior of Apple fanboys, a social category that itself suggests a qualitative difference from the more diverse collection of PC buffs. Here's the trailer:

Are Apple's fans such a special breed? Evan Koblentz, computer historian at the InfoAge Science Center in Wall, New Jersey, says he's experienced a certain kind of Apple-blindness among tech fans. "There are still loyal users of Apple's Newton handheld device from the mid-1990s who insist that no other product can top it," Koblentz tells Minyanville. "In the early 2000s I met a group of Newton fans in the Boston area. They refused to acknowledge that handheld electronic organizers existed for 15 years before Apple allegedly 'invented' the PDA. In fact, all Apple did was coin the term 'PDA' for a category that already existed. But these particular fanboys were essentially saying that 1930s panel trucks, 1950s Land Rovers, and 1970s Broncos never existed because they weren't dubbed SUVs by some marketing firm."

Sure, PC users do turn up regularly in online threads and discussions pouring scorn and vitriolic abuse on their cultish Mac foes, but does PC fandom really compare? Has anyone ever tattooed Dell (DELL) or HP (HPQ) on their left butt cheek? Doubt it. But there are sites entirely devoted to Apple tattoos.

Some Apple fans have been impressed enough by the company's gadgets to turn them into Halloween costumes:

And while Apple haircuts will never catch fire like the Beatle variety once did, that other Apple logo has been shaved onto many a fanboy scalp. The cover of Leander Kahney's The Cult of iPod features a particularly stylin' do.

In fact the levels of devotion inspired by those respective Apple products, be it the iPad or Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, seems similar-long line-ups that appear on sidewalks a week early, cars painted up like free rolling billboards, and even better a Mercedes tricked out with the latest Apple gear by a company called Brabus.

Fast Company magazine's John Gruber once went on a hunt for examples of products Apple fans would buy if their favorite company branched out into lifestyle goods. (He was inspired by a quote in the Wall Street Journal in which one crazed Apple fan said "I'd buy a toilet if they made it.") Here's the list he compiled:

  • A microwave
  • A toaster
  • A woman (the word "iWife" was used)
  • A rock
  • Underwear
  • Crack cocaine
  • A turd (more specifically, "iTurd")
  • Artificial organs

One industrial designer, presumably a fanboy, is already working on the toaster concept:

As for the iTurd, the fanboys were clearly joking. Everybody knows Microsoft makes those.

Click here to return to "The Mythology of Apple" and our complete list of Apple stories.

Why is Apple so important to us? What's next for the iconic brand? Click here to continue reading from our series on the mythology of Apple. You'll also find a link to our video, "Is Apple a Religion?"

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Lasting through April 15, 100% of the donations made to The Ruby Peck Foundation for Children's Education will be channeled to the children of Japan as they attempt to find their footing following this natural disaster; and to kick off this drive, we'll pledge $5000 to get it started. Please do what you can, as it will add up, and thanks.
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