07 April 2010

Apple and The Hodg

WSJ: Digits Blog | Andy Jordan | Can Apple Maintain Status as Religion of the ‘Creative Class’?

Apple’s core following has traditionally been the creative class. They are graphic designers and artists, and they constitute a “church” of sorts.

“When you find other Mac users, they’re so happy to find other people, it’s like the underdog,” says Peter Isgrigg, Product Manager at Apple specialist Tekserve in Manhattan, and self-proclaimed Mac fanatic, and subject of my new video on Apple’s cult-like status. [...]

Apple in a sense cultivated this “underdog” or creative-class status to successfully market its products. Consider Apple’s “Think Different” ad campaign, or its ubiquitous Apple vs. PC ads featuring a young, hip Justin Long.
You know what I find so weird about that? Long is playing opposite John Hodgman in those ads, and Hodgman is a huge icon of that very same "creative" geek community. Huge. There's a reason Hodgman is the most frequent guest on The Sound of Young America. Long is alright, I suppose, but he's no Hodgman. As Hodgman will tell you, he's more popular than Jesus. (When judged on the basis of who has made the most TV appearances, anyway.)
There’s also the popular perception among devotees that Apple is “good” and competitors like IBM, Microsoft, and now even Google are “evil.”
That's over. I've heard lots of developers specifically say they no longer feel this way and now see Apple as just another "lesser evil" to choose between.
Still, the iPad is a new kind of product for Apple, one geared not so much to its traditional creative class or “inner church,” as to a general audience merely interested in viewing media and not creating it.
Urmmmm.... anybody remember this little guy?

Apple's strategy has long been based around dual product lines for high-end, typically graphics-oriented professionals, and easy to use, "mom appropriate," non-threatening stuff.

Ultimately I don't think it matters if Apple maintains it's hold over the graphic designers.  Apple has had them wrapped up for as long as I've been around, and while they're a nice group of consumers to have in your pocket, they don't tend to drive sales to a wider audience.  Coders do.  Those are the people you want lusting after your stuff, because they create the software for whatever system they personally enjoy using, and that software attracts other consumers into the fold.

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Correction (7 Apr '10) — Hodgman is actually a regular gust on Jordan, Jesse, Go! not The Sound of Young America, though he has been on that show multiple times as well.  You will hopefully forgive my confusion since both shows are produced under the Maximum Fun umbrella, the host of The Sound of Young America, Jesse Thorn, is also a co-host of Jordan, Jesse, Go! I recommend both of them highly, though they take very different formats. The former is an interview show and has very choice guests, from Neil Gaiman to Patton Oswalt. The latter is more of a buddy humor show, in a similar vein as You Look Nice Today and Stop Podcasting Yourself. I've only just starting listen to the latter of that pair, but I like it so far. The former is, if you will pardon my colloquialism, the absolute tits. Not to be missed.

Postscript to the correction — Thorn also blogs at Put This On about matters stylish, and is producing an independent tv show by the same name.  Also recommended.

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