Interview: 'Cult of Mac' author, Leander Kahney

MacFormat discovers Mac guru's hardware choices

Leander Kahney

MacFormat mag interviews Cult of Mac author Leaner Kahney, and finds out what gear he most loves:

MacFormat: What hardware and software do you favour?

Leander Kahney: I'm a bit of a Luddite - I've got terrible habits that I've never changed. I used to use Word for everything - writing, contacts, and even a calendar! Now, I live in email. If I need to do something or find an interesting website, I send myself an email note.

Hardware... I used to have a Palm Pilot, and was diligent about putting appointments on it, but I'd forget it, leaving it in my bag. It'd be freaking out about some appointment, and I wouldn't see it. iPhone and Bluetooth changed all that - I always have my iPhone with me and use Apple's calendar app to set alarms. It's the first time this technology's actually worked.

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MF: You seem to have a love/hate relationship with Apple...

LK: Lots of people love the products and hate the company. This is exaggerated with me, because Apple's been the source of my income for a dozen years, and reporting on Apple has been frustrating, because the love has been one-way. But Apple's in many ways the only really interesting company. It puts so much care and attention into products - it's not just churning out junk.

MF: Is there anything that Apple should be doing differently?

LK: It's hard to say. This book I just wrote - when I started, I had misconceptions about Apple and would bitch about secrecy, lack of communication, and the contempt Apple seemed to have for customers. When I dug into it, the more I understood the logic of why Apple does these things, and saw that it's a smart way to operate. The secrecy is a huge part of Apple's marketing plan - it's not telegraphing to competitors what it's up to, and I like this. It increases the mystique.

MF: Does Steve's brain affect Apple?

LK: I don't think there's another company that so closely reflects the person who runs it. When researching the processes Apple has developed, I realised they were manifestations of Jobs's own character traits. His perfectionism and the demand for excellence expresses itself in the many prototypes the company makes. The fact he's a control freak means Apple controls all the technology in these vertically integrated systems - software, hardware, services. Apple's been successful in turning what some would consider negative traits into a business philosophy.