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Apple: In Jobs we trust

I have a problem. Some might even call it an obsession, others an addiction. Year after year it costs me hundreds of dollars, but never have I regretted a penny spent. I am one of the millions of yuppies across the globe who salivate whenever Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, steps out onto a dark stage in California to reveal the latest in useless Apple innovation. I am a member of the cult of Apple.

Ever since the launch of the first iPhone in summer 2007, I have found myself drawn, like a moth to light, to Apple’s continuous rollout of shiny and slightly improved gadgets. Each year I promise myself that I will exercise self-control — that I will not be influenced by Apple’s clever and manipulative advertising. And yet year after year, I cave and push my old iPhone off to a family member or sell it on eBay so I can have the latest and greatest. I treat the newest device like I would the rarest of diamonds, enclosing it in an expensive and fashionable case and cleaning it with a microfiber cloth on a regular basis, only to discard it 12 months later.

So when Apple announced Feb. 23 that it would be revealing a new product, it was no surprise that I was aflutter with excitement. Surely, it would just be the company’s new iPad, which I had convinced myself I did not need or want. After all, it’s only a giant iPhone — just without the phone part. Although it’s aesthetically pleasing and a marvel in engineering, it can’t replace a computer and is by most estimations unnecessary for each and every task it performs.

Yet when Jobs, who announced in January that he was taking a leave of absence to address health problems that have plagued the emperor of Apple since he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004, emerged last week to a standing ovation dressed in his uniform of dorky blue jeans and a tucked-in black turtleneck, my fortified defenses were pulverized. I was sold.

Jobs’ reveal of the iPad 2, and the fact it would be hitting stores just a week later, set off a flurry of anticipation. No, the new device isn’t all that different from its predecessor, but holy crap is it beautiful. Released just last Friday, the iPad 2 has sold between 400,000 and 600,000 units according to most estimations, and possibly even 1 million according to more generous ones. Stores have been cleaned out and inundated with phone calls from customers as demand continues to exceed supply and online orders have been backordered into mid-April.

Apple, however, has been basking in the glow of the publicity. Giant lines, month-long backorders and mania is exactly what Apple strives for. Such conditions make a product that no one really needs seem quite the contrary. And indeed, such brilliant marketing has led Apple to become one of the most successful companies in the world, despite the realities facing this tech empire.

Apple products generally have a slew of initial problems. The iPhone 4 was plagued with a defective antenna that required a third-party case to fix, and the white iPhone 4 that was revealed last summer has yet to hit stores because of manufacturing difficulties. Indeed, some customers have even reported discoloration around the edges of the new iPad 2 screen. If that weren’t enough, the plant that produces many Apple products in Shenzhen, China is the subject of this month’s Wired magazine cover story due to the 17 suicides that have occurred there.

But for those who view the bitten Apple logo with the same passion some might a crucifix, this is irrelevant. It is Apple. It is God. Our definition of misery is relevant to our own reality. Moammar Gaddafi may be murdering his own people in Libya, and Japan may be facing its biggest crisis since World War II, but here in the United States we have a four-week wait for the latest Apple product. And that just will not stand.

Apple claims the new iPad is nine times faster than its predecessor. And the new “Smart Cover” designed by Apple cuts out the arduous process of having to slide the unlock bar to turn on the iPad; now, just open the case and your iPad glows to life. Today, Apple stores are expecting more lines as people await restocked supplies. Patience, it seems, is a virtue we have lost — or maybe never had. But as we seek to regain our senses, perhaps it’s best we find it.

In the mean time, hook me up, Steve. I need my fix.

Justin Snow is a senior history major. He can be reached at snow at umdbk dot com.

Originally published in The Diamondback.

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