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Friday, 21 July, 2000, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
The cult of the Mac
Apple Mac shrine at MacWorld
And now let us pray...
By BBC News Online's Kevin Anderson at MacWorld in New York

I was trying to make my way through the crowd of people swarming around the new sleek offerings from Apple at MacWorld when suddenly the crowd split.

It was as if Moses had parted the sea of people.

There he stood in signature black shirt and jeans, the man who made and later saved Apple: Steve Jobs.

He was probably about the only thing or person who could have drawn attention away from the new iMacs and the super sleek G4 Cube.

The cult of the Mac

Before I get much further, I should admit, in the interest of full disclosure, that I own a Mac, not an Apple Mac, but a clone made by Motorola.

Apple's The Cube computer
The Cube, newest object of Mac adoration
At work, I use a laptop running Windows 98 and a desktop running Windows NT, but I have to say that I prefer using a Mac.

Although the Windows interface has come a long way, there are still subtle touches that I really like about the Macintosh operating system.

Having said that, I struggle to explain the near fanatical following of the Macintosh and its charismatic leader.

I remember when I bought my Mac that we had a comic strip in the office. "Macintosh: It's not a computer. It's a cult."

The loyalty of the Macintosh community is legendary, and at MacWorld, you really feel the love.

The Apple Ambassador

Before I even made it to the expo, I ran into George Engel, an "Apple Ambassador" from central New York in the hotel lobby.

Mac fan
Macs attract devoted fans
He was easy to spot. He was wearing a "Fall in love with your Macintosh all over again" T-shirt.

He first bought an Apple in 1979, an Apple IIe and has been a loyal customer ever since. He has been to every MacWorld on the east coast.

He services Macs for a living, but used to service Windows-based machines, which he has stopped.

You do not have to be a genius to use a Mac, he said, but added, "if you own a Windows machine, you have to enjoy whipping yourself daily and like it."

"There is no pain in owning a Mac," he said.

But as loyal as they are, they do not have a blind faith in the beloved Macs.

Jason Tullman broke down and bought a couple of Windows computers, including one running Microsoft's flagship Windows 2000.

"I used to rip on PCs all the time," he said, adding that he bought them for only one reason, to back up his criticism with first hand experience.

Religious fervour

But it is more than hate for Microsoft and Windows that drives their devotion. They love these machines and the people who make them.

One MacWorld participant told me how Mac fans were queuing to have the boxes of their new sleek Apple mice signed by Apple design guru Jonathan Ive.

And Apple devotees do speak with a religious fervour about their Macs.

Michael Gongora uses his Mac to edit films and his website hilltoppictures.com. He loves their usability and simplicity.

"You don't need to take a class to use a Mac. You spend like an hour on it, and you're using it. You're at one with the machine," he said.

Peter Martin works with a systems integrator called Xperts. His company is split 50/50 between Mac and Windows users.

He said, "we have our core Mac people, of which I am one, and then we have the non-believers."

He has been using a Mac since its introduction in 1984. "Apple has a very loyal customer base. The operating system is a jewel. It's a pleasure to use."

And the sleek look of the new computers doesn't hurt.

"Jonathan Ive is a genius in my opinion. The new cubes are just unbelievable," he said, adding, "I'll buy one, if my wife lets me."

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See also:

20 Jul 00 | Business
Apple looks to the future
19 Jul 00 | Business
Apple unveils the 'Cube'
13 Jun 00 | Business
Internet multimedia deal agreed
10 Feb 00 | Microsoft
Apple Computers: A brief history
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