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Apple just became more of a California cult than ever

5 min read
fairly easy
The iPhone 13 launch was a love letter to left-coast ideals. Here's why that matters.
It's been a tough year for committed Californians. Amidst a weirdly undemocratic gubernatorial recall effort, as smoke spewed from mega-fires, as our friends, choked out or priced out, headed for the exits, loudly proclaiming they'd never liked the place anyway, Golden State residents could be forgiven for wondering whether to abandon their own 1960s-style California dreamin'. It's 2021, isn't the West Coast over yet?

They'd also be forgiven for punching the air at the outset of Apple's iPhone 13 launch event. The tech/entertainment giant screened a banging cover of "California Soul," a 1969 hit for jazz legend Marlena Shaw, with a diverse group of musicians amidst the state's beauty spots (pink-dreadlocked violinist in the Mojave, singer in Muir Woods, sax at Joshua Tree).

Apple has named Mac operating systems for Cali landmarks and put "Designed in California" on its packaging for years, but it had never before produced a love letter like this to the state that birthed it.

This timely anthem was almost enough to make you forget that the Cupertino company gets huge local tax kickbacks from the city. Or that it skirts state taxes by funneling cash to its hedge fund subsidiary in Reno, Nevada. Or that the vast majority of its products are made in China. Or that just last year, Apple fought a California Supreme Court order that they pay retail employees for time spent waiting in line to have their bags searched.

Dreams of Californication

That's Apple all over, though. Less a company, more a trillion-dollar California cult designed to brainwash us with pleasant high-tech visions and the comfort of a walled garden. Fellow Silicon Valley giants are taking tumbles in public perception, but Apple's image is stronger than ever — it's the most admired company in the world on Fortune's list for 14 years running, while Facebook has dropped out of sight — in part thanks to these slickly-produced multi-hour product ads.

Based on incremental improvements to a phone, a…
Chris Taylor
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