AUSTIN, Texas – Sometimes loyalty to a brand feels more like a religion than a buying necessity. Apple Inc. fanboys and girls wait in line for hours before a product launches and similarly Android lovers stick to all-Google Inc. everything. This bizarre, cultish phenomenon was the subject of a SXSW session entitled “Steve Jobs and the Techno Priests,” hosted by Shane Kempton of Phase 2 Interactive. Kempton argued that a major company’s power to influence technology and sway buying habits, made them inherently more like a religion than a brand.
“We’re in an age today where the ideologies that form who we are and what we believe are being shaped by the technology developers. By the people that control content. A small algorithm that puts one news story in front of another. The people who are pushing those ideologies – for good or for ill – are folks like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and you and I,” said Kempton.
According to Kempton, major religions wield power to change minds and prompt action. He compares this power to that of major brands who prompt buying and gain influence.
Kempton says technology became a pseudo religion shortly after the launch of Apple’s App Store. “Apple changed the game when they introduced the app store. They created an eco-system. They control the content of everything you see and everything you do,” said Kempton.
He went on to compare certain products to religious iconatry like cathedrals or sculpture, emphasisng people’s emotional response to a beautfully designed product: pride and loyalty.
“Apple has always tried to create an emotional response. They’ve designed the software to make you feel a certain way. They use terms like ‘magical’ and ‘beautiful.’ The way Apple goes about controlling its ecosystem feels very much like the way the church controlled content.”
The “control” Kempton describes is only becoming more prevelant as companies like Google and Apple dominate certain aspects of the market. For example, Google is putting emphasis on universal translation services, which basically gives the company the key to unlock and control people across the world. Another company, Facebook is a similar “walled garden” that holds control over the web community as the keyholder to all personal information and relationships.
The Churches of Apple, Facebook, and Google may continue to gain new followers as the web community increasingly becomes dependent or reliant on new goods and services.