If the cover of this book, which depicts the Apple logo shaved into the back of someone's head, doesn't strike you as an extreme example of product loyalty, then you're most likely a Mac owner. Leander Kahney's hiply illustrated coffee table book, The Cult of Mac, is a guided tour of the world of Mac fanatics, a subculture of computer owners for whom the Mac long ago morphed from a tool into a cultural identity.
At the center of the Mac universe, of course, is Steve Jobs, and it's clear from the thousands of devotees who scramble for seats to his annual Macworld keynote address that he drives the vision not only of the company but of the faithful. People camp out overnight to get seats, much the same as they would to get tickets to see a rock star. Jobs is the man who made it cool to be a geek. Kahney does a good job of placing the development of Apple in the social context of the time - it was the counterculture's answer to IBM, which was seen as the embodiment of the establishment. Apple users were nonconformists, they were free thinkers, and they were out of the mainstream and out of the box in the best possible way. Even now, Macs appeal widely to artists, designers and other creative types. A good many of the people who started computing with Apple back in the day have remained in the fold, and subsequent new generations of Mac lovers have joined their ranks. While Apple's market share is small, their customer base is solid and brand loyal in ways that most of us PC users could never understand.
In the first section of the book, we meet the people who inhabit this funky world. Here we find Mac addicts who wear their brand loyalty on their sleeve, or on their hats, or directly on their bodies in the form of Apple logo tattoos. People are apparently so enamored of their Apple windshield decals that they move them from old car to new car time and again. Other folks love spreading the Mac gospel so much that they spend hours of their time volunteering at computer stores in order to keep the Mac shelves clean and orderly and demonstrate Apple products to potential buyers. Perhaps the strangest ritual described herein is the iMac unpacking ceremony, in which you take delivery of your new flat-panel iMac and proceed to invite your friends to the unpacking, which is, of course, photographed step-by-step and eventually posted online at one of the numerous Mac communities and forums.