Today we have a really cool interview. Cult of Mac, a highly read news site for Apple fans, is one of my favorite sites. It combines news with reviews, and all other sorts of things that I enjoy! The current editor and publisher of Cult of Mac is Leander Kahney. Leander has written for so many companies like WIRED, MacWeek, and even himself. He has published many books, but out of all of them, Inside Steve's Brain, is my favorite. I feel honored to have been able to interview Leander, and I hope all of you like this interview!
Q. Why Apple? And more than that why a cult?
A. I've been a fan since the mid-1980s when my dad let my brothers and I design artwork on an early Mac at his work. He was always a big Apple and Steve Jobs fan. The machines were so easy to use. We became fans too. They were very machines to the computers at school. I could never get my noodle around programming, but I rode the Mac like a champ. The term "cult" is a big joke; a self-depricating reference to the fanboyism many of us experience. Some people hate it because it has obvious negative connotations; and the press often lazily equates Apple fans with mindless, zombie consumerism. We buy whatever Steve Jobs told us to buy. But in fact it's the opposite. Most Apple fans are extremely discerning. They make very careful and informed choices about their devices.
Q. Why/How/When did you get involved with writing?
A. I was a liberal arts major and therefore unemployable. The only thing I was good at was studying and writing. I read Tom Wolfe and wanted to be journalist. I got an internship at a local newspaper and discovered that newspapering was a crummy trade, but what else was I going to do? I came to San Francisco for a vacation and ended up staying. I needed a job so I lied my way into MacWeek; tech publishing is the only job a journalist can get in this town. It turned out to be fortuitous, and Apple presented a fascinating story to cover for a couple of decades.
Q. How/Why/When was Cult of Mac founded?
A. It has a long and tortuous history, going back to when I was a beat reporter at Wired.com covering Apple. We needed a name for the Apple blog I was running on Wired's website, and so I jokingly came up with "Cult of Mac." I got promoted several times at Wired and the blog went fallow. It was pretty much dead until I left Wired three years ago and turned it into a full-time job. We've been building it up since then, and I'm proud that it provides employment to a small but growing team.
Q. From what you have learned, what is Apple's greatest strength and weakness?
A. Not an easy question. Apple has many strengths: focus, discipline, extraordinary creativity, the courage to ruthlessly compete against itself. I guess its greatest strength is its extraordinary group think. It's a massive organization that executes almost flawlessly on every front: from marketing to retail, product design and software development. There's an awful lot of people that are cooperating towards a common goal. It's amazing that it hasn't split into competing fiefdoms that undermine each other, like some of its rivals.
Q. If you could change one thing about Apple, what would it be and why?
A. I'd like Apple to be a lot more open. I'd love to wander the halls of Cupertino talking to whom I like and checking out all the prototypes. But of course, this will never happen. More realistically, I wish its product packaging were plainer and simpler. To be honest, I find Appel's packaging fussy and pretentious. I'd rather the products came in plain cardboard boxes that are easily recycled.
Nice. I really enjoyed talking to Leander as he as done so much, and learned so much. Here is what I designed for Leander, you can buy it here.
Leander, I am forever indebted to you.