Isn't it finally time to retire the Apple's Reality Distortion Field label?

Isn't it finally time to retire the Apple's Reality Distortion Field label?

Summary: The press now finds "reality distortion fields" everywhere, from one surrounding Newt Gingrich to the process of AIDS research. But the original field surrounded the Apple campus in Cupertino for decades and was widely derided by the entire computer industry. Perhaps now, with Apple one of the world's most valued companies, it's time to scrap the RDF dog collar

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TOPICS: Apple, CXO, Hardware
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The press now finds "reality distortion fields" everywhere, from one surrounding Newt Gingrich to the process of AIDS research. But the original field surrounded the Apple campus in Cupertino for decades and was widely derided by the entire computer industry. Perhaps now, with Apple one of the world's most valued companies, it's time to scrap the RDF dog collar

According to the Wikipedia, the term was applied from an original Star Trek episode to describe Steve Jobs' leadership charisma during the development of the first Mac. It didn't matter what was happening around the rest of the company or what division was making money. Forget the success of the Apple II computer (which actually was the major breadwinner for Apple until around 1987, years after the launch of the Mac), or the lack of same with the Lisa business machine (where many of the Apple GUI concepts were formulated). Forget all that and focus on the insanely great Macintosh, Jobs urged the team. And it was so.

This optimism was integrated into Apple culture and the company's employees have always acted on it. Of course, Apple knows better than everyone else, the Mac is way better than Windows, and someday everyone will understand that the Apple Way is right.

This was especially irksome to the rest of the PC industry, who noticed that Apple had a shrinking user base and group of developers. In fact, during the 1990s, Apple was cut out of almost all government contracts. The computer world circled around the twin suns of Intel and Microsoft. Apple was declared dead by the PC trade press and Michael Dell told a crowd of IT analysts and volume buyers that Apple should be shut down and the money returned to the shareholders.

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But the installed base of Mac users, long-suffering Apple developers and Apple employees kept their heads up high. When PC press attended a briefing or demonstration at the Cupertino campus or at the Macworld Expo show, they would complain of the influence of the reality distortion field.

Who cared about a computer used by fewer than 5 percent of the world? Or its operating system? Or the worthy technologies developed there, such as QuickTime, FireWire and AppleTalk? The real world of the computer industry was happening at Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Sony, Fujitsu, Sun Microsystems, or anywhere else but One Infinite Loop. I heard this many times at technical sessions and IT analyst conferences I attended.

Now, a decade or so later, after the resurgence of the Mac, the relatively success of the iPod, iPhone and iPad, Apple is one of the worlds most valuable companies. This fall, its market cap this fall was about the size of Amazon, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft combined.

Yet, I observe that there are many analysts who still haven't reconciled themselves to the new world order. Certainly, we all can agree that is the year to put away the "distortion field" and perhaps look at the Apple reality. More on that later.

Topics: Apple, CXO, Hardware

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  • RE: Isn't it finally time to retire the Apple's Reality Distortion Field label?

    There's no reality distortion field. What's at work with Apple products is a well-known psychological effect/behaviour, called the cognitive dissonance. <br><br>In the actual situation the latter means - to put it simple - that the more money you throw at something and the less results you get, the more you are inclined to actually make yourself and also everyone else believe that the product is great or actually the best ever possible - even contrary to the obvious facts -, just so you don't have to admit that you made a very bad decision, and that you spent just way too much on a product that's way inferior to what you've could bought for far less.<br><br>That's why buyers of overpriced, but technologically inferior Apple products insist that said products are superior to everything else, and that's why they want to drive everybody else to buy the same piece of crp, too. And it actually works - at least with people who just can't withstand peer pressure, and then after buying an inferior Apple product will be subject to the same psychological effect. <br><br>This is why Apple consumerism spreads like a virus. Not because Jobs was a genius or because he had any kind of reality distortion field. He just invoked - mostly by chance - this viral action of denial and self-justification, rooted in the very essence of human psyche. Which btw. also works with cars, clothing, etc. and is exploited by other companies to sell their similarly inferior products at ridicolously premium prices.
    ff2
    • Good points

      @ff2 And during this time of year, consumerism gets even worse. How sad it is that people define themselves by the cars they drive and the phones they use.
      otaddy
      • Well said.. kudos ff2

        NT
        Uralbas
      • NT

        NT
        Uralbas
    • RE: Isn't it finally time to retire the Apple's Reality Distortion Field label?

      @ff2 And you give an excellent example of the reverse reality distortion field at work. [b]That's why buyers of overpriced, but technologically inferior Apple products insist that said products are superior to everything else, and that's why they want to drive everybody else to buy the same piece of crp, too.[/b]

      The only "overpriced" product Apple has out is the Mac line - the iPhones are at various price points just as their Android counterparts, the iPad and iPod the same, Apple TV is priced a bit more than a similar Roku box but it's not a huge price discrepancy.

      As for the technologically inferior - that is your opinion. From my own experience I have an iPhone 4 and a Galaxy S about the same age - the iPhone being a bit older - and the iPhone 4 outperforms the Galaxy S on many different levels.

      Personally I could care less if you use an Apple product or not - the one I use just works for me.
      athynz
      • RE: Isn't it finally time to retire the Apple's Reality Distortion Field label?

        @Pete "athynz" Athens - Disclaimer: I am typing this in IE9 on Win7 x64 running on a 17" MacBook Pro connected to a Thunderbolt display*.

        Apple's laptops, by and large, are considerably more expensive than much of the competition. But Apple isn't (and never has) aimed their product at the general consumer. What Apple have done extraordinarily well over the last 10 years is market their products' "simplicity" and "cool" factor, and priced them <b>just</b> beyond the price range that most are comfortable with. Apple knows full-well that those who really want "cool" or "simple" will eventually make any and all sacrifices to free-up/acquire the funds necessary to enable them to buy their object of desire.

        THAT is Jobs' genius.

        * I am a software developer and the only (legal) way to write apps for Apple's devices is on a Mac. Even so, I spend 99% of my time running Windows since that's where most of my work is done and, frankly, OSX is a dog.
        bitcrazed
      • Um yeah... Or it could be that Apple wants to make money.

        @bitcrazed.. I know horror of horror's a money making company!!! Gads!!! HP the number one seller of PC's has had fits over it's pace selling PC's and considered dropping the whole thing. Joining IBM I might add. Dell it'self once the number one seller of PC's has expanded and branched of into other fields in an attempt to find money and been fairly successful at it I might add because again PC sales frankly are blank for money making. Apple just did not want to jump into the shallow end of the pool with the funny looking kid standing in the strangely warm section of the water. It's that simple. As for the cool factor... Yeah I'm so cool tooling around town in my 1989 Honda Civic Hatchback. Wearing my reliable jeans and t-shirts. I have quite a collection of t-shirts but nothing you'd consider cool or even an attempt at being cool. So why would my iMac make me cool? The only reason you know I own one is because I just told you I don't carry it around with me that would be silly. I do own an iPhone keep it in my jeans pocket most of the time I'm not one of those people who are on the phone 24/7 so again most people I see and or meet don't even know if I have a phone not to mention what kind it might be. So yeah keep pushing that old song if it makes you feel better but I'm thinking this is once again nothing but a subjective theory on your part and a strangely angry one at that.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • RE: Isn't it finally time to retire the Apple's Reality Distortion Field label?

        @ bitcrazed Disclaimer: I am a developer who spends most of his days in both Windows and OS X, and Linux. OS X is not a dog, it is as good as Win7. Both are very good OSes. Linux is a great small footprint server.
        themarty
      • RE: Isn't it finally time to retire the Apple's Reality Distortion Field label?

        @bitcrazed

        "...and, frankly, OSX is a dog"

        I think this must depend on one's individual uses and preferences; my experience is just the opposite. I use Windows 7 extensively and am daily surprised at what a kludge it is. It's pretty- perhaps more so than OSX, with it's semi-translucent menu bars and ubiquitous animations illustrating obscure processes like copying or trashing a file...but to my mind, it can't handle the simplest things right. Renaming an open file causes all kinds of trouble, and maybe it's just me, but reading and writing to a flash drive takes at least 3 times longer on my brand new desktop PC than on a 3 year old Macbook.

        Maybe if you're using software that was Windows first and then badly ported to Mac?
        pdq
      • RE: Isn't it finally time to retire the Apple's Reality Distortion Field label?

        @Pete "athynz" Athens<br><br>In what way are Macs over priced? You get what you pay for, and there is not a single PC with comparable hardware that is more than a hundred dollars or so cheaper than the comparable Mac. You know better, so I am at a loss as to why you would make this statement.
        .DeusExMachina.
      • RE: Isn't it finally time to retire the Apple's Reality Distortion Field label?

        @bitcrazed

        "I am a software developer and the only (legal) way to write apps for Apple's devices is on a Mac."

        While the first part may be true, the second part most certainly is not. Here's a clue for you. HTML5 development, Apple's stated preferred development vector, can be done on any number of OSes.
        .DeusExMachina.
      • James Quinn, you're making excuses

        @James Quinn
        [i]Apple just did not want to jump into the shallow end of the pool with the funny looking kid standing in the strangely warm section of the water. It's that simple[/i]

        Apple, nor Jobs ever said that. What they did say was that their stuff was the best, and that they didn't want to share the market with anyone else, and that without Apple, the PC was doomed to failure like the Commodore, TI/99, ect.

        Remember, Apple did authorize the cloning of Macs only to change their minds in the 11th hour.

        As for the cool factor, hey who said this was about you? Are your purchases personally keeping Apple afloat?

        I know a few people who bought their Apple stuff as they thought it was cool, they never said anything about better.
        William Farrel
      • RE: Isn't it finally time to retire the Apple's Reality Distortion Field label?

        @William Ferrel
        Anecdotal. I don't believe anyone thinks the computer they use makes them cool. I have never heard the even the most enthusiastic Mac user make that claim. There is difference between thinking a gadget is cool and thinking it makes [i]you[/i] cool... Or someone else less cool. All of the comments I see here about Apple users always seem to insinuate that they are all looking down on the rest of the PC using public, but If anything the opposite is true.
        Tigertank
    • RE: Isn't it finally time to retire the Apple's Reality Distortion Field label?

      @ff2
      "In the actual situation the latter means - to put it simple - that the more money you throw at something and the less results you get, the more you are inclined to actually make yourself and also everyone else believe that the product is great or actually the best ever possible - even contrary to the obvious facts -, just so you don't have to admit that you made a very bad decision, and that you spent just way too much on a product that's way inferior to what you've could bought for far less."

      @ff2 - you are truly living in your own "private Idaho" this statement really applies to products like the Zune or TouchPad. Stop being a hateful democrat...
      Gr8Music
      • RE: Isn't it finally time to retire the Apple's Reality Distortion Field label?

        @Gr8Music

        Keep your ignorant, tea-bagging to yourself.
        .DeusExMachina.
    • And the most important thing...

      @ff2

      They're cute. They're just sooooo cute. Apple bros LOVE to accessorize.
      pishaw
      • Nothing wrong with being good looking. I should know:)

        @pishaw ... As long as you get the job done and Apple products so do. Being good looking is a bit of a BONUS nothing more but nice none the less.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
    • Well said!

      @ff2 Quite possibly the best explanation of Sheeple ever posted
      john-whorfin
      • RE: Isn't it finally time to retire the Apple's Reality Distortion Field label?

        @john-whorfin

        Oh really? That's funny, since he completely botched his central theme, with his total ignorance of the meaning of the term "cognitive dissonance".

        But congrats for joining the ignorance parade.
        .DeusExMachina.
    • RE: Isn't it finally time to retire the Apple's Reality Distortion Field label?

      @ff2 WOW!! Well said!!
      oraman