Looking back on the hits from Apple’s blockbuster year. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
2014 was an absolutely monumental year for Apple. Haters will hate, but one thing can’t be denied: This is a company that refuses to rest on its laurels.
Under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple debuted a new product category with the Apple Watch, sold a record number of new iPhones, made the biggest acquisition in its history, and successfully sent its suffering stock price back into the stratosphere.
The company wasn’t without its missteps, but all in all, it’s hard to call 2014 anything short of a blow-away year for Apple.
Apple’s U2 marketing campaign cost over $100 million. Photo: Apple
It’s been one month since Apple blasted U2’s loud, proud, and totally free new album, Song of Innocence, onto every iTunes account in the world, and now the the complaints have died down, Eddie Cue has revealed how enormously successful the free album has been.
Over 81 million iTunes users have ‘experienced’ Song of Innocence Cue told Billboard, and further divulged that downloads of the album in its entirety have topped 26 million.
When you make the most desirable phones, tablets and computers on the planet, it’s no surprise that you’d rack up a few celebrity fans. Everyone from Hollywood actors to politicians carries an iPhone, while Apple’s never been afraid to pull in big names to star in its ads. But who are the real enthusiasts among the pack? Scroll through the gallery above to see the nine biggest celebrity Apple fanboys in existence.
Apple board member Al Gore’s not the only Washington politico to be enamored with Apple products. Right from the start, former President Bill Clinton was an iPhone user, subsequently telling a tech audience gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the dot-com Internet domain name that it was his "favorite device."
Clinton was good friends with Steve Jobs, too — even making a personal trip to see the Apple CEO in 2011, when Jobs was on medical leave. My favorite Clinton/Jobs story? That Jobs once cornered Clinton at a charity fundraiser and asked him to personally request that Tom Hanks record the narration for an Apple advert. Clinton politely declined.
There are few Apple fans more enthusiastic than actor, author and TV presenter Stephen Fry, who even dedicates whole chapters of his autobiography to describing the impact the Macintosh had on his life. Fry was in Cupertino for the unveiling of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and Apple Watch last month. Thoughts from the ever-eloquent thesp? “Want, want, want; drool, drool drool.”
Apple has always attracted — and been marketed to — creatives, so it’s no surprise that there would be plenty of musicians among the company’s fan base. For years, Apple’s go-to performer (and one of Steve Jobs’ favorite musicians) was John Mayer, who appeared at numerous Macworld events and was one of the few contemporary artists on Jobs’ iPod.
“I first met Steve in 2003, over the phone, when I cold-called him to tell him I was a devout fan of all things Apple and would love to be involved in whatever way I could with the company,” Mayer wrote on his personal blog, which was later taken down. “I remember the call extremely well; me on my hotel room bed, fidgeting and doodling and circuitously explaining that all I could really explain was that I wanted to have a relationship. I got nervous at one point and started second guessing myself and my intentions for calling, to which Steve replied ‘Don’t worry, I have a very good bullsh*t detector.’”
Unfortunately Mayer fell out with Jobs after agreeing to take on BlackBerry as a sponsor, which explains the strangely harsh mention the musician is given in Walter Isaacson’s biography of the late Apple CEO.
Their album giveaway may not have gone down in history as one of Apple’s best marketing moves, but there’s no doubting that U2’s relationship with Cupertino goes a lot deeper than just the latest iTunes Radio promotion. There’s a reason U2 singer Bono called Tim Cook the “zen master of hardware and software.”
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy scribe Douglas Adams was an Apple fan from the 1980s until his tragic death in 2001 at the age of 49. While it’s all well and good to be a celebrity Apple fan here in 2014, Adams passed away before seeing the company rise to become the global giant it is today.
“What I (and I think everyone who bought [the Macintosh] in the early days) fell in love with was not the machine itself, which was ridiculously slow and underpowered, but a romantic idea of the machine,” Adams wrote of the original 1984 Macintosh. "And that romantic idea has to sustain me through the realities of actually working on the 128K Mac.” Years later the technology had gotten better — and Adams’ love of Apple had only deepened. His last message board post? Geeking out over the thrill of installing Mac OS X.
Michael Crichton's best-selling thriller novels — ranging from Jurassic Park to Pray — focused on what would happen if tomorrow’s technology was available in today’s world. Is it any real surprise that the man was an Apple fan?
Among the most touching tributes to Crichton upon his death in 2008 was this piece from Macworld, in which the author reports how the novelist personally chipped in to keep a website dedicated to Mac OS X tips going. Crichton even sent an autographed copy of his book Timeline with the check. A true fan!
Late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel might poke fun at Apple products on the regular, but it’s hard to think of anyone who dedicates more television air time to celebrating his unabashed enthusiasm for everything Cupertino. His mocked-up giant iPad also made me irrationally jealous.
Was there a better subconscious Apple ad than the fact that Jerry’s apartment in Seinfeld featured a Macintosh in the background throughout the show's 180-episode run?
At the start, it’s a 1987 Macintosh SE, followed by a 1992 PowerBook Duo in a Duo Dock with external monitor. After that, Jerry bumped up to a 1994 Power Macintosh 6100 before moving on to a Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh near the end of the series.
When the Seinfeld set was put back together for the “reunion” episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, one of the only significant changes made was yet another Apple upgrade — with Jerry now apparently owning an iMac.
Having not one but two U.S. presidents in your fan base is pretty good going. Sadly, President Barack Obama is not allowed an iPhone as part of his official wardrobe and is stuck on BlackBerry. That hasn’t stopped him from openly lusting after the iPhone 6 in recent pics, though. He’s also admitted to spending hours each day on his iPad.
A buggy iOS 8 update that killed cellular connections for iPhone 6 users is far more troubling than Apple’s other recent missteps. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac
“It just works.”
Those three words are synonymous with Apple. It’s the slogan Apple fanboys use when trying to convince their Android-loving friends that iOS is a better option. And it was used over and over by Steve Jobs as he unveiled new products at Apple keynotes.
That makes it even more embarrassing for the Cupertino company when things don’t “just work.” Especially when it royally screws things up — as it did with the hideously half-baked iOS 8.0.1 update that rolled out to millions of users Wednesday morning.
The reviews are in! We’ll tell you what people love and don’t about the iPhone 6… Then, RIP, iPod Classic. We remember the humble beginnings of the device that built the new Apple. And finally, Apple announced a base price of $349 for the Apple Watch, sure, but the prices for the other editions might make even Rolex envious. All that plus the lesser known features of iOS 8; how to get U2 out of your iTunes; and a new social video app has us taking more selfies than ever.
Titter your way through each week’s best Apple stories! Stream or download new and past episodes of The CultCast now on your Mac or iDevice by subscribing on iTunes, or hit play below and let the chuckles begin.
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While the story doesn’t give too many specifics, it does note that the project relates to “a new digital music format [the band hopes] will prove so irresistibly exciting to music fans that it will tempt them again into buying music –whole albums as well as individual tracks.”
Although this sounds the kind of counterintuitive move that utterly goes against Apple’s most recent promotional music stunt (where it paid U2 and its record label a reported $100 million to put out its album for free), U2 notes that it’s thinking about more than just itself:
It already seems like years ago that Apple unveiled its smartwatch. In this #TBT gallery, we relive the glory of last week's big event, as captured by award-winning sports photographer (and iPhoneography aficionado) Brad Mangin.
As the hands-on demo sessions wrap up, a few people linger inside Apple's mystery building.
CUPERTINO, California — I’m a sports photographer, not a tech blogger, so I felt out of place shooting Apple’s big iPhone 6 press event with my iPhone 5s.
Baseball is what I do — I’ve shot nine Sports Illustrated covers — but I swear it was easier getting field access to shoot a World Series game at Fenway Park than dealing with all the people and security at Apple’s event.
This thing was a free-for-all. It was crazy. The place was flooded with media types from all over the world, all standing in line to get into the Flint Center for the Performing Arts, where the event was held.
Apple had to give users a tool to permanently remove U2’s freebie album from their iTunes account, but according to Eddie Cue the album is a colossal hit and has been ‘experienced’ by 33 million iTunes account holders since its release six days ago.
Apple’s historic launch of U2’s new album Songs of Innocence to 500 million iTunes users hasn’t exactly been well-received. After less than 1 percent of iTunes users downloaded the freebie album on the first day, Apple shoved it down users’ throats by automatically downloading to devices withdisastrous results.
Now, after everyone’s had a weekend to cool off, Apple’s offering users an innovative solution in the form of a support site dedicated to teaching iTunes users how to pry U2’s spam album off their Mac or iPhone for good.