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September 22, 2004

Excerpts: The Cult of Mac - Part IV

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 1:42 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

On the other hand, some journalists complained that the fanaticism was harming Apple. Overreliance on fanatic faithfulness led to years of complacency at Apple, the business, wrote Charles Pillar in the Los Angeles Times in 1997, when Apple was in deep trouble. And its not working nowjust look at Mac sales figures.
Whatever the effect on the media, theres the widely held perception that the EvangeListas saved Apples bottom lineit has been argued that millions of little acts of Mac evangelism stopped the company from sliding into bankruptcy. During the EvangeList years, there was a lot of committed and energetic lobbying for the Mac in schools, universities, and businesses threatening to dump them. Who knows how many would have abandoned the platform if a committed friend, relative, or workmate hadnt convinced them not to? Thanks to the Macintosh loyalists, [and] people like Guy Kawasaki who are out championing the cause for the underdog, Apple, you know, still is a contender, Jim Carlton, author of Apple: The Inside Story of Intrigue, Egomania, and Business Blunders [out of print], told National Public Radio.
However, there were a number of high-profile institutional switches to Windows PCs at big Macintosh sites, Dartmouth College being the best known, that mobilized scores of EvangeListas to no effect. I dont think it helped a lot, Cheryl England, a former editor of MacAddict, said of the EvangeList. Its obvious to say Apples loyal customers saved the company; of course they did, it wasnt saved by its disloyal customers. But its hard to judge how much of an effect the EvangeList had, rather than Mac users generally. The return of Steve Jobs to the company in 1998 and popular products like the iMac probably had more to do with it.
While the EvangeListas tried to help Apple in retail stores, Apple eventually dumped a lot of the chain stores in favor of a store within a store at CompUSA. The company also started concentrating on specialist Apple retailers and its own Web site.
The most profound effect of the EvangeList was to energize the Mac community in its darkest days. The EvangeList unified Mac users and gave them an identity. Its championing spirit of evangelism survives today, and, in fact, has never been stronger. People are as passionate as ever about Macs and are just as committed to cheerleading them.
The one good thing it did is provide an early platform for people who love the Mac, said England. It was a club. It was their friend. It was a place they could go and not get picked on by [Microsoft] PC suits.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.