Have I Become an ‘isheep’!?

28 Aug

This week I’ve acquire the second technology item of this summer. I joined the pack of ‘i-’ users and brought an ipad2. Apple products are not foreign to me, but as I think back, I noticed how this brand’s impression changed through time.

This is my new ipad 2!

In my primary and early secondary school days, there was only Apple computer and not much of my classmates used those at home. Therefore, the name sounded unique and mysterious to me. I believed that people who used such ‘minority products’ are either very rich or culturally ‘higher’. Then, ipod came out and it became the new trend. That was the first time the brand symbolized the concept ‘in’ (at least to me). Later, it developed its notebook and computer series, ‘profession’ and ‘artistic’ are the description for this brand (it is still famous for graphic and musical production today). Now, with iphone and ipad, Apple products became the hot items of the market and the symbol of trendiness, innovativeness and youthfulness.

According to the 2nd August issue of Businessweek, Apple has beaten Microsoft in both offshore and domestic cash investment. There are also reports saying that Apple shares worth more than Microsoft’s (see http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-worth-more-than-microsoft-2010-5 and http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/26/apple-microsoft-market-cap-2/) and how Microsoft’s market dominance, though still great, is slipping (see http://www.fastcompany.com/1751059/microsoft-slipping-pc-market-share-browser-use-being-munched-by-apple) Even if we do not read such reports, the trend can be seen on the MTR. It is common to see someone reading an ipad beside you and another listening to music with an iphone in front of you and you are actually playing apps with your ipod-touch!

Apple’s success may due to its well manipulation in constructing meaning for its brand name. As I have mention above, what this brand represents changes through time and its product development and of course its marketing strategies.

Throughout the years, the brand’s image/ representation are being sustained and new meanings are added. Not only is it actively spreading its message and promoting itself, it encourages its users to like the identity of being ‘Apple-users’. I said so because when I opened the package of my ipad2, what made me most surprised were the two Apple stickers enclosed. My brother told me they are expected to be stuck on other things. That reminds me of my friend who stuck Apple stickers on her belongings to pretend they are products of Apple. The icon is no longer an image of an apple but the symbol of an identity or even ideology (in the 2006 Grossberg’s sense of ‘a way of seeing and thinking’).

The Apple stickers

The ‘Apple way of life’ is especially popular among the younger generation (the post-80’s and 90’s) like my younger brother, who possesses a Mac book, an iphone and an ipod-touch (now share the ipad with me). These young consumers learn to consume with their parents money and later their own.

Producers are spreading their ideology to this generation by giving and manipulating meaning into their products. The younger generation live in consumption and identify themselves through the products they consume.

Although I do not think all people are mindlessly brainwashed, the meaning (and ideology) manipulation power of consumption is a force to be reckoned with. Nevertheless, it may be a weapon to fight against the dominant as in the case of Apple’s rise against Microsoft. There are always wars of ideologies and changes in perceptions and power because it is how human interacts and understand the world.

Word Count: 568



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