Macworld, Apple and Brand Love

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Macworld Expo 2008 is scheduled to kick off on Jan 15, at 9am Pacific Time in San Fransisco. That’s about 10pm local time here today. Sitting thousands of miles away here in India, I can get the sense of excitement and anticipation. I for one will definitely sit through the live coverage (bloggers covering the event as it happens, live – even posting pics of the on-stage happenings).

somethingintheairThe buzz has reached phenomenal levels on the internet. People have queued up for the event a good 21 hours ahead! Expectations are high as written here and here.

Last year, around this time when the iPhone was announced, I sat through the night keeping track of Steve Jobs’ speech on the live blogs. And then I watched CNBC’s US feed covering the iPhone launch, interviews with those lining up to buy iPhone etc. Net result – devoting time & energy from about 10pm to 4am the next morning to keep track of the launch of a handphone. Knowing full well that I won’t be able to buy the phone officially in India for over a year.

Apple occupies a tremendous amount of mind-space for Apple-lovers like me. My daily ritual includes following blogs on Apple, visiting Mac software sites and of course, using my Mac. Over the past 10 years that I have been using a Mac, I have owned 4 Mac laptops in all. Not to mention the monies invested in official Apple software, third-party software and such.

There are very few brands that command such devotion and reverence. The Windows-dominated world’s reaction to such ‘brand love’ varies from indifference, envy, dismay, hatred and puzzlement. What sets apart Apple users from Windows users is the passion for the brand. A mad devotion, very rarely seen among Windows users. When was the last time you heard of consumers queuing up days ahead of a product launch? A large part of this love towards Apple, its philosophy, the products should go to Steve Jobs.

Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple is widely known as the principal designer of the iMac, iPod and the iPhone. In an interview to Design Museum he says: “Right at the end of my time at college I discovered the Mac. I remember being astounded at just how much better it was than anything else I had tried to use. I was struck by the care taken with the whole user experience. I had a sense of connection via the object with the designers. I started to learn more about the company, how it had been founded, its values and its structure. The more I learnt about this cheeky almost rebellious company the more it appealed to me, as it unapologetically pointed to an alternative in a complacent and creatively bankrupt industry. Apple stood for something and had a reason for being that wasn’t just about making money.”

I was introduced to the Mac early in my career as an Account Executive! I used to tool around with the Mac in the studio (back then, unlike now only Macs were used by Art & Studio). Years later I owned my first Mac, after I simply fell in love with the looks of the Powerbook (1999, I think).

It’s hard to pinpoint any one reason for my Mac passion and almost all of the PC users won’t ‘get’ it anyway. It’s about design, quality hardware software, certainty of things working and ease of use. It is also about lack of ‘fear’. As a PC user in office, one is constantly aware of virus threats, malware and system overload. Apple is about worry-free computing. As far as it’s over-priced perception goes, it is true to an extent in India. With duties, levies and god-knows-what it’s consumer price is way different from what is offered in the US. Yet, it is of great value for the price one pays.

One can go on about Apple’s marketing strategy, it’s price-value equation vis-a-vis Windows and so on. Right now, all I can think about is today’s Stevenote.

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