Reality Distortion Field

I have repeatedly read forum comments, blog posts, and even professional editorials that dismiss Apple's products by referring to the "The Apple Tax", "The Apple Cult", "The Apple Faithful" and, my personal favorite, "The Reality Distortion Field". I wanted to take a moment and look at two views of reality:

1) Tens of millions of people across the world purchase Apple products repeatedly because Apple produces quality products that resonate with customers' needs and desires and offers fantastic one-stop support and therefore garners customer loyalty and repeat business. Further, Apple offers competitive pricing (especially at the entry level) because they have great economies of scale which have translated into a streamlined supply chain as well as offering premium products at a premium price that are preferred by those who can afford it.

2) Tens of millions of people across the world purchase Apple products because they belong to a technology cult and would buy anything that Apple produced regardless of the premium-pricing known as the "Apple Tax". These people have small shrines to Steve Jobs in their homes and irrationally conclude that Apple's products are superior on things like battery life, build quality, ecosystem and user experience. They would sacrifice the more essential things in life to carry devices with an Apple logo on them as a status symbol.

One of these things seems a bit more rational and the other seems a bit more distorted; though the ones that subscribe to the "Apple Reality Distortion Field" argument tend spew the second view at every opportunity. They often refer to "The Apple Faithful", "The Apple Sheep" or the "The Apple Cult". They ignore the fact that the iPad was the best priced tablet for 18 to 24 months with no competitor being able to match the price and is still the best value 10-inch tablet on the market at $399 (with the no-margin Nexus-7 being the first to arguably offer more value for the price - though not more features and apps). The Ultrabook/Thin-and-Light market struggled for 18 to 24 months to get under the MacBook Air's $999 price and they just recently did it by cutting corners and quality. They ignore the fact that the iPhone can be purchased for FREE, $99, $199, $299, and $399 which is comparable to competing smartphones (though carriers do subsidize it more because of the value the iPhone brings to their network).

Even if you hate Apple, you should love the way they drive their competitors to create better products. I don't see very many Blackberry-toting iPhone naysayers of 2007 clamoring for a new Blackberry device today -- instead they want devices that have features that the iPhone introduced. How many folks know a netbook-toting iPad naysayers from 2010 who is still clamoring for an under-powered badly built netbook? Instead they are looking for tablets that by-and-large behave similar to iPad or they want Ultrabooks which are modeled after the MacBook Air. Apple's biggest critics tend to trash Apple when they blaze a trail and then praise their competitors when they march down the same path.

Certainly there is bias and preference in the industry among consumers, but the "Reality Distortion Field" was essentially a phrase whose use got misappropriated. It was originally used to describe a motivational technique used by Steve Jobs to convince an employee that something was possible so that individual would try to achieve it whereas they might have otherwise never attempted it (supposedly it was borrowed from Star Trek, though I do not have the episode reference). It certainly is not some kind of magical ability to convince a cult of millions of people to spend their hard-earned money on products that are inferior to those produced by Apple's competitors.

If you don't like Apple products or the company's practices, so be it. If you are simply cheering for another team, then fine. But a better and more rational argument is needed than an "Apple Reality Distortion Field". Its as irrational as saying that "Android is a complete copy of iOS" or "All of Samsung's products are copies of Apple's". Indeed some of the most distorted views of reality I have seen are by folks who assert that millions of other folks are blind, crazy, or stupid. I think what people miss is that it is okay to prefer a Porsche without dismissing a Ferrari and a Lamborghini as "total junk". Reality certainly has many absolutes, but gadget preference is not one of them.