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Apple geek seeks true love, with iPod
The carefully nurtured 'Cult of Mac' helps build a hurricane of hype, but will it mean more sales?
January 26, 2005: 5:10 PM EST
By Katie Benner, CNN/Money staff writer
Scott Rose and his first love: the Apple IIe
Scott Rose and his first love: the Apple IIe
Devotees brave freezing temperatures on a Saturday morning to be the first to own new Apple gear.
Devotees brave freezing temperatures on a Saturday morning to be the first to own new Apple gear.
Will this customer leave with an iPod Shuffle? More importantly, will he leave with a date?
Will this customer leave with an iPod Shuffle? More importantly, will he leave with a date?
Shiny Apple?
Apple looks for the halo

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - A guy in L.A. is on the rebound from his Apple IIe.

"It was my first love, my first real relationship," said Scott Rose, 32, whose one-man show "Scott's Search for a Rose," describes a Mac geek who mastered Unix, but never got a handle on women.

Some may think Rose is an example of extreme interfacing, but Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster isn't surprised by any "cult of Apple" behavior.

"Apple users tend to be fanatically positive and feel they must tell others," Munster said.

Examples of fanatics are everywhere. They name their iPods, fill blogs with testimonials about making "the switch" and testify that their laptops have gotten them dates, and better grades.

And even though Rose's intimate relationship with Apple has him publicly pleading for a girlfriend, he doesn't regret his devotion.

"Like real love, Apple represents the best things about humanity and touches hearts," he said. "It's like dating. I feared women the way lots of people fear the Windows operating system. (But Apple products) are easy to use and people are empowered by this."

Rose will only date an Apple computer owner, and at about 3 percent of the PC user population, this drastically reduces his options. But analysts think Mac fanatics hold the key to Apple's broader computer market share and more eligible women for Rose.

Good switch, bad switch

The company's "switch" marketing campaign from 2002 turned out to be a wash, but analysts think Apple fanaticism will translate into computer sales this time around, in large part because of the iPod.

The little white devices have achieved pop culture status as the only "cool" MP3 machine on the market, and have revitalized Apple's image as a hip, young brand -- not to mention more than tripling its stock price. One devotee even said geeks who buy Apple products are cooler than other tech dorks.

Cheaper Mac Minis and iPod Shuffles may entice more people to buy into the Apple lifestyle, but some say this cooler-than-thou attitude may limit sales.

Scott Hills, who works as a Webmaster, said Apple computer users think they made a smarter choice than the rest of the world. "The joy in being exclusive is the whole cult of Mac thing," Hills said.

Hills believes that if the company had 20 or even 30 percent of the personal computer market, owning an Apple would lose its mystique and diminish what makes the products special.

But others say the company will never grab that much of the PC market. That's because Apple's strategy of marketing as a high-end lifestyle company will cap its share of computer users, no matter how many iPods are sold.

"They make 'elitist computers,' machines for a certain type of person," said computer engineer Ben Green, who specializes in Apple products. "Only a small part of the population can think of a tool as expensive as a computer as an accessory."

Mini Mac attack

But don't tell that to the Apple fanatics who lined up outside a Manhattan Apple store early last Saturday morning, when the company's retail locations opened an hour early to kick off Mac Mini sales.

A line of devotees snaked around the block by 8:30 a.m., patiently enduring 10 degree weather.

"Mac people are just nice," said recently retired Martine Baschnonga. "My husband and I decided to get young again, to get into computers, and (other Apple lovers) convinced us to buy a Mac."

There were plenty of switchers in the store that day, like Elaine Williams, a data entry worker who bought her Apple because she loved her iPod. Or James Javery, a computer programmer who bought a Mac Mini because its price -- starting at $499 without keyboard, monitor or mouse -- let him make the switch.

Carl Caltabiano, who offered his phone number to the Baschnongas should they need free tech support, was just another customer in line. He said wanted the couple to "love their computer" like he loves his.

"I don't have kids," he joked, "I have these computers instead."  Top of page


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