Apple in a word is …

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What does Apple mean to you?
What does Apple mean to you?
Illustration: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Over the past 40 years, Apple has been many things to many people. Innovative or imitative, premium or overpriced, saintly or evil — everybody’s got their own take on what Cupertino and its revolutionary products mean.

While Apple was founded on April Fools’ Day in 1976, the company and the profound impact that its shiny devices have made on our lives is truly not a joke. Here’s what Cult of Mac staffers said when asked to describe what the company means to them in a single word.

Quality

If there’s one thing you can guarantee from an Apple product, it is quality. They might be pricey, but when you buy something carrying the Cupertino company’s iconic logo, you know you’re getting the best build quality on the market. Each item has been painstakingly designed to be the best it can be — and if you look after it, it will continue to live on long after the components inside it are past their prime. — Killian Bell

Aluminium (not aluminum)

The word “aluminium” — pronounced the way Jony Ive says it — sums up Apple for me. Apple carves laptops and smartwatches out of solid chunks of the metal, using super-advanced manufacturing processes that make the company’s devices ever thinner and lighter. Ninety percent of the work at Apple is done in the factories, figuring out how to make beautiful gadgets by the millions. But the public sees none of it. Apple gets lauded for its design and its marketing, but this mastery of raw materials like aluminum defines the company for me. — Leander Kahney

Pretty

It’s a scientific fact that Apple products are some of the best-looking out there. While I should geek out on all the stats an Apple product possesses and tell you that’s why I love Apple, the truth is I bought my first MacBook, iPod and iPhone because of how beautiful they are. Apple products are pretty to look at, pretty to touch, and overall pretty awesome! — Jeni Axline

The new 12-inch Retina MacBook comes with just a single USB-C port.
Apple: Making shiny, pretty things for 40 years.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Accessible

If there’s one thing I hear time and again from developers, Apple fans or anyone else who first fell in love with computing on on an Apple device, it’s how easy Cupertino made it all seem. Apple made it possible to create music or artwork on a computer, got thousands of people started on coding, and — most miraculous of all — got my computer-phobic dad to start sending emails. Apple’s product lineup may have gotten more complex in recent years, but the company’s commitment to ease-of-use has never wavered. — Luke Dormehl

Personal

My MacBook and iPhone are full of pictures and video of my kids growing up, documents I created along the way, contacts I’ve known for 20-some-odd years, and a whole host of music files that track my second life as a musician. Not to mention the thousands of hours of games I’ve played on Mac, iPhone and iPad. Almost every stage of my life has had an Apple product in it. These days, I make my living writing about all the magical Apple devices, including Apple Watch and Apple TV, and going to an Apple Store feels more like a pilgrimage than retail therapy, though it’s probably a bit of both. My identity is as much tied to this computing company as it is with my being a father, a musician and a partner; long may that continue. — Rob LeFebvre

Value

When I think of Apple, I think of value. I’m not necessarily talking about low prices, but meaningful, quality products I can’t live without. For years, my iPhone, iPad and MacBook have boosted my productivity, enhanced my social interactions, connected me to an online world of knowledge and, of course, entertained me greatly. For these reasons and more, I place immense value on my Apple devices. — George Tinari

Learning the user interface can take some time, and then there are all the subtle tricks.
Apple’s indispensable innovation? Making technology personal and accessible.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Innovative

“Innovation” might be Apple’s favorite keyword. The iPhone, Mac, iPad and Apple Watch may seem obvious in hindsight, but when when you look at how Apple products have completely reshaped our relationship to the digital world, the term “innovative” truly fits. The tech inside was never on the bleeding edge of sci-fi — in fact, Apple products are so simple they look like art. Over the past 40 years, no company has matched Apple’s skill at refining technology in a way that feels like future is here now. — Buster Hein

Indispensable

The primary activities that comprise my life — work, entertainment, travel — are aided and abetted by Apple and its technology. I don’t know what I did, exactly, before acquiring my very first MacBook a decade ago. Sure, I could use a computer by another manufacturer to earn my livelihood, but I’ve long-been hooked on Apple’s design and intuitiveness, and compatibility with other aspects of my life — like, say, talking on my (i)Phone, posting to Instagram on my iPad or listening away on my iPod.    — Ami Icanberry

Creativity

Long before the iPod and iPhone made Apple the “it” brand, the company was the place to go for all creatives. Designers, writers, editors — all of them flocked to the Mac. That’s how my love for Apple flourished. I always wanted to be part of the film/TV industry, and in order to use the preferred editing package of professionals, I needed to invest in a Mac. Apple became more prosumer than strictly professional over the years as its products became mainstream, but it’s still the go-to company for creative types. — Ste Smith

Cielo de la Paz with her "Shot on iPhone 6" billboard in New York in April.
Cielo de la Paz with her “Shot on iPhone 6” billboard in New York.
Photo courtesy Cielo de la Paz

Democracy

As a trained photographer who has spent lots of money on equipment and education, I continue to be gobsmacked by how the camera on Apple’s iPhone has turned everyone into a photographer. Apple removed barriers of cost and technical know-how, freeing everyone to have fun and be creative. Many iPhone users with no prior camera experience have created stunning, transformative images. Another single-word description for this could be “disruptive”: The iPhone is now the world’s most popular camera. — David Pierini

Ecosystem

Love it or hate it, Apple’s ecosystem is its most defining attribute — and it’s only going to expand as we march into the future. The (potentially) seamless integration of iOS and OS X devices offers the promise of a truly connected world, even as it frustrates us with the occasional maddening glitch. Back at 2014’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Tim Cook and his lieutenants laid out their ambitious plans for weaving Apple products into the fabric of our lives. Strengthening the connections between products in the vaunted Apple ecosystem, and expanding it through wearables and the dawning “internet of things,” puts Cupertino in a position that competitors can only dream of enjoying. — Lewis Wallace

Experience

Apple’s fiddly and borderline-alarming attention to detail means that even opening one of its products is an event worthy of heavenly choral music. At a time when other companies were just putting their junk in a box and calling it good, opening something designed in Cupertino was like a private unveiling. It didn’t matter if you were cracking open your new iPhone or the weird, trapezoidal iMac box; Apple packaging sets a rhythm that deliberately and methodically introduces you to your new device. Other companies have caught on and upped their own unboxing games, but I’ll always remember who did it first. — Evan Killham

What does Apple mean to you?

If you’ve made it this far, Apple is more than just a word to you. But if you had to sum up Apple’s impact on your life in a single word, what would it be and why? Get innovative in the comments below.