The Secret to Apple's Success: Bad Grammar

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This year, Apple surpassed Microsoft to become the world's most valuable technology company. You could attribute its success to a number of dazzling product launches: the MacBook, the iPod, the iPhone or the iPad. But undergirding each of these popular devices is a super slick marketing campaign. One that begins with Steve Jobs introducing it at an Apple event and ends with a series of billboards, web ads and TV commercials. What makes these campaigns so successful? According to Business Insider's Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, it just might be Apple's atrocious--and cunning--grammar:

Apple refers to its products grammatically as persons and not as objects.  If Steve Jobs is talking about an iPod, an iPhone or an iPad, he will say "iPhone does this" or "iPad does that", instead of "the iPhone does this" and "the iPhone does that." You would use the former version to refer to a person, and the latter to an object.

It's extremely smart because it's so subtle. We'll bet most people haven't noticed it. And yet it's exactly the kind of thing that works. It sends a bunch of powerful subliminal messages about Apple. Our products are unique and very valuable. Perhaps as importantly: We don't speak about our products in the same way as our competitors.

Once you pay attention to it, you see it everywhere. Steve Jobs does it in his keynote speeches, Apple does it in its ads. And of course in the Mac vs PC ads the products are represented by actual people. There's no way they're not doing it on purpose--and there's no way it doesn't have an effect.

Strategically, it's a rather ingenious way of hawking a product. Emotionally, it's a pretty creepy way to refer to an inanimate object. (No wonder the company's critics think of it as more of a cult than a technology company.) In any case, Apple's disdain for grammar rules shouldn't come as a surprise, as outraged grammar geek Gobry points out: The company's been luring in customers under the adverb-free slogan "Think Different" since 1997.

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