Apple computer
01 Apr 2011

The big 'Apple'

Apple computers have gone from strength to strength in the last few years, launching iconic products like the iPod, iPhone and now the iPad. Indeed, last year Apple overtook Microsoft as the biggest technology company in the world on market value. Not bad for a company that almost went bust in the 1990s.

Apple followers are famously devoted, and this was illustrated last year when two professors at Texas A&M University published research that compared the cult of Apple computers to a faith.

"The religious-like behaviour and language surrounding Apple devotion/fandom is an example of 'implicit religion,'" Prof. Heidi Campbell, one of the academics behind the study, told “Apple's creation story epitomizes the humble garage origin of its technology -- not unlike the humble manger of Jesus”.

The head of the company, Steve Jobs, has an almost cult following, and the iPhone has been called the ‘Jesus phone’.

Critics point out that their products often have flaws and offer poor value for money, but there can be no denying that Apple has been pushing recent innovations in mobile computing.

But what is it like to work for Apple? A recent anonymous interview with an Apple store employee published by makes for interesting reading.

"We are completely in the dark until they do a keynote speech. We have no idea what is coming and are not allowed to openly speculate. You can get into serious trouble if you speculate - especially to a customer. I am asked five times per day about the next iPad or iPhone, and I quite simply don't know.”

"If you talk to the press or speculate to a customer about the next iPad? That's the end of you."

“It’s amazing how badly behaved some customers are. I have seen customers have complete meltdowns and get phones exchanged that were like two years old. They scream, cry, curse. And it works.”

The dark side of working for technology companies like Apple really takes place in developing countries, where child labour and hazardous working conditions are all too common.

Apple recently published its first annual Supplier Responsibility progress report which showed plenty of room for improvement in the working conditions in its extensive Asian supply chain. This is their first full audit, but Apple’s greatest innovation might just be admitting there is a problem.

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