Apple is a new religion and Steve Jobs was its high priest

His product introductions were not unlike the pope appearing at his Vatican window to bless his followers on Christmas. People would line up for hours to snag a seat for a Jobs keynote address. He would stroll onstage like a biblical prophet, dressed down to a modern version of the basics — black turtleneck, Levi’s jeans, New Balance sneakers. For many Apple followers, this was the nearest they would ever come to seeing God. In her study, Lam quoted one fan saying, “For me, the Mac was the closest thing to religion I could deal with.”

And so there, onstage, was Jobs, this quasi-religious figure, holding these devices that many in the audience believed could take them to a utopian place of computing — beyond the bright white light of Apple’s commercials and into a magical space where everything works, where everyone connects, where everyone trades on the same digital spirit. At home or at their office desks, so many people followed Jobs’s introductions online that Web sites would regularly crash under the pressure.

Now he is gone. Apple’s fans, who today find themselves in the mainstream, are already flopping around looking for a new spiritual guide to technological utopia. Jobs’s successor, Tim Cook, introduced Apple’s newest iPhone this past week on a much smaller stage — physically and spiritually — than Jobs commanded. He is genteel and Southern, but not Jobsian. I was struck that the Wall Street Journal on Friday offered up a profile of Apple industrial design master Jonathan Ive, a handsome Brit who, in his limited public appearances, talks about gadgetry with the same reverence as his mentor.

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