An apple a day

There’s no denying that Apple Inc. is at the forefront of consumer technology: it’s more than a company, it’s a modern-day conglomerate and a global symbol of social status. But despite a history of allegations of unethical business practices, insufficient data security, and production methods which rely on the use of sweatshop labor, we – and I include myself in this category – remain unwavering in our loyalty to the brand. 

My distaste for Apple really stems from a scepticism of the company’s permeation of our personal and professional lives. Most people my age (and certainly those younger) are familiar with the Apple interface, because it’s what we’ve been raised on. Even those of us who aren’t Apple users are accustomed to seeing it represented in films, television, the news, and a myriad of other media formats. This deeply ingrained dependence on Apple is something that Dr. Melinda Gaughwin explores in her thesis, ‘Not Without my iPhone’ (read more here), as According to Gaughwin, our relationship to these products has transcended one of subject and object; rather, it is symbiotic. The consequence of this interdependence is that the object defines the individual and is ‘so integrated into their daily life that it becomes unnoticeable.’

But nothing about Apple is ‘unnoticeable,’ and herein lies the irritating genius of its brand. The company’s interpretation of what invisibility looks like demands attention – their designs are elegant, slim, light, and marked with a universally recognisable symbol. The result is a demand for individual consumers and companies at large to be defined by the aesthetics of the objects available to them, thereby influencing the choices they make and their personal tastes.

The Apple stores, too, embody this objective to influence choice and taste, as the uniformity of their enormous glass cubes again recreates invisibility by doing the exact opposite – being distractingly visible, demanding attention, and operating as a landmark. This is most evident in Apple’s plan to build a store in Melbourne’s Federation Square, a goal which was denied in April 2019 by authorities who cited the potential construction as one which would negatively affect the Square’s cultural heritage. In this instance, Apple was forced to accept that it's not immune to limitations. Cultural institution though it may be, its word is not law. Not yet, anyway. 

Tagged in Opinion, Culture, Tech matters, social media, Wellbeing, What messes with your head