The Psychology of Apple Haters

It’s that time of the year again.
Every time Apple has a new product launch, social networks get stormed with a flurry of funny, or not so funny, memes designed to mock said new product in one way or another. The secrecy about new Apple devices is a thing of the past, so it’s easy to be underwhelmed by the new thing and to point out it’s nothing special after all. Right before it goes on to sell three times as much as the previous, equally boring, release. But I suspect there’s more to it. Hating Apple is probably more than a simple matter of opinion: anything that generates so much effort needs to have its roots somewhere else.

Technology is a relatively new thing. As such, there are still people around who have been, or believe to have been, experts in the field from day one. Since it is a rather technical area of expertise, for a long time we have identified technology buffs as nerds who have no social skills because they spend all their time indoors dealing with computers, which by the way is a pretty accurate stereotype. But technology has evolved, and now your mom can use a smartphone and she knows what Facebook is. The obvious consequence is that many tech companies have reshaped themselves from obscure, background corporations into huge lifestyle brands, and Apple has been the most successful of all at this crucial transformation. The iPod was the first gadget that did away with system specifications and computing power to cater to a new kind of technological need, one based around style, usability, and coolness.

This doesn’t sit well with those who had built most of their knowledge base, and very possibly their career, around the fact that technology was a difficult thing for normal people. Apple has democratized technology by changing its shape and function. Because of this, people who couldn’t switch on a computer are now able to do whatever they want with hardly any help from their nerdy neighbor. A once valuable skill set, of the kind that shapes your whole lifestyle, has been rendered somewhat moot. Of course, complexity has all but increased and the very fact that Apple exists has given occupation to a whole generation of nerds, but all of this is happening mostly behind the scenes. The front cover face of technology is now simpler, non-threatening, and even beautiful to look at.

Just as you start to dislike a band that you’ve discovered in its infancy once it goes mainstream, these technology orphans hate Apple because it has moved their toy from their backyards to Central Park. Where a bunch of ignorants who don’t know what dual-core means can play and tamper with it. It must be jarring to watch.

Whenever you are so vocal about hating something (be it Apple or whatever else), it’s likely to have little do to with opinion and a lot to do with yourself. Apple haters do not hate Apple, they hate the change that Apple has introduced in the world, which has neutralized their crucial skills. I don’t see any other influence under which one can become a Samsung fanboy, or a Blackberry fanboy even, as these brands and products are not suited to be loved, if not as a shortcut to express aversion for something else entirely.

It is true that the opposite also applies. Apple fanboys feel liberated by not having as much trouble with technology as they did in the past and thus they, as well, are giving breath to their ego. But ultimately this is why Apple strives to keep its products as simple to use as possible, taking steps to reduce complexity whenever it gets out of hand, as per the latest iTunes redesign.

But simplicity in technology can only arise from a greater complexity under the hood, so there’s hope for nerds yet, if they can swallow their pride.

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