Don't mess with my rainbow, Steve

Don't mess with my rainbow, Steve

Green, yellow and orange, Matthew JC. Powell red, purple and blue . ..

A terrible thing is about to happen, and I am powerless to stop it. You can't do anything either, I'm afraid. Even Government intervention will not likely reverse the decisions that have been made in a far-off corner of northern California. Are you sitting down? Apple is about to change its logo.

I know, I know, you're upset. I'm upset too, but you've got to calm down so you can finish the column. Go get a nice drink of water (Sydney and Adelaide readers should substitute warm milk) and I'll wait here until you've collected yourself.

You're back? Good. Apparently, Steve Jobs has sat down with the marketing and design people, and they've decided between them that the six-coloured apple with a bite out of it is "too ‘80s". They're going to move to monochrome logos forthwith. The shape will remain, because that is what Jobs says people use to identify the company, more than the colours.

This is, of course, ridiculous. If it weren't, I wouldn't be writing about it. The A-Team is too ‘80s. "Dexy's Midnight Runners" is too ‘80s. Breakdancing is too ‘80s. If Steve Jobs wants to eradicate these abominations from the history books, I'll bring a torch.

But not Apple's logo. You have to understand that for many of Apple's customers (not all, by any means), Apple is more than a computer company, and the Mac is more than a computer. There's a culture of rebellion, of going against the crowd, of being (and thinking) different. Often this has meant that Apple has rebelled against such concepts as sensible business practice and logical management structures, but the point is the rebellion.

For some of Apple's customers, the logo encapsulates all of this. These are the customers who didn't buy Windows machines when everyone else did. Or at least, they kept their Macs as well. I got a cool CD-ROM from a Mac reseller in Victoria recently (free plug: Alpha Computers in Mornington), commemorating that shop's activities for iMac day. The cover note that came with it said, in part, "I bleed six colours". This is the credo of the Mac faithful - we're so inherently different from the rest of the computer-buying world that our blood is not even a single colour.

If the shape is so important, why doesn't this note say "my head is shaped like a bit of fruit with a bite out of it"? That would be absurd, yes, but no more than saying that rainbows spew forth from our open wounds. How are people so fundamentally altered by their preference of operating system going to cope with the symbol of that OS disappearing?

My mind is obviously drawn (as is yours, I'm sure) back to the 1970s, when IBM gradually changed its logo from the familiar 13-strip version to the eight-stripe version we know today. If you recall, there was much hue and cry, complaint and misery. Riots were had in the very streets, I tell you. "We need those extra five stripes," people yelled, while breaking big blue bottles on policemen's heads.

Those 13 stripes meant solidity, security, stability. Remember that ad campaign: "Nobody ever got fired for buying an IBM machine with the 13 stripe logo"? With only eight stripes, IBM's mystique was gone. It was suddenly just another company. Its tragic decline since then only strengthens my argument.

Is it any coincidence that Paul Rand, the designer responsible for the change in IBM's logo, now features in Apple's Think Different ad campaign? I think not, and I think it points to a larger conspiracy of some sort, the details of which are not entirely clear at this stage.

Actually, I don't anticipate any of you recall IBM having changed its logo, and I have to admit nobody cared at the time either. Hands up anyone who just grabbed something with an IBM logo on it to count the stripes. No-one in the office knew, either. I'm creating a little drama to illustrate the disaster that may ensue if Apple continues with its dastardly plan.

The iMac is the first stage of the changeover. Nowhere on this machine or its packaging does a multi-coloured logo appear, only the translucent "Bondi Blue" one. I feel a sense of loss.

Now there's a thing. I'm sure we're all very proud in a kind of nationalistic way that Apple named its new colour after an Australian beach. But what about interstate rivalries? Won't the Bondi reference damage sales outside NSW? Should Apple Australia produce a Victorian version in, say, Portsea Purple? Should the Queenslanders have a choice in Coolangatta Gold? Presumably a range of shades will be available when it's build to order.

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