What do You Want? An Apple or a Bottle of Coca-Cola?

What will strike on people’s mind today when it comes to identity of America? Maybe in the 1940s or 1950s, just as Roland Barthes says, ‘a totem drink of America’(58, Wine and Milk) , Coca-Cola would get the highest votes without any doubt both in the U.S and other countries. Does the situation remain the same all along the time till now? I am afraid notwithstanding the fact that Coca-Cola is still a significant part of American way of life, these days the public will say definitely, ‘Apple’! Apple, of course, one of the most fashionable and smartest information technology products companies, which broke the antiquated, dull and frozen fence of IT world, is the most recent representative of America.
What are the charms of Apple? Established on April fool’s day, this corporation was never a joker but a true miracle and the core of its fantastic achievements is endless innovation. In the early period of Apple, it began its enterprise with Apple I, a computer with less elements and a rare display screen. After the decline between 1984 and 1997, Apple returned to the centre of IT stage with its revolutionary product iPod, a portable digital audio player which displaced walkman of Sony becoming the number one portable music player in the world. Then iPhone, a new kind of mobile phone born in 2007, successfully helped Apple turning into the third largest mobile communication corporation in the world in 3 months. And it is the tablet personal computer, which was initially raised by Bill Gates but promoted by Jobs and named iPad that centralized the eyes of whole world IT companies on table PC. It is just the innovation that makes today’s Apple, a company with such a unprecedented worldwide reputation and when people think of America, Apple comes to their mind immediately
What is the cause makes Apple becoming the identity of America? Maybe it is not only the innovation inside itself but also the outside changes of eras. From the age of discovery, former separated nations started to connect with each other in commerce, policy, military and culture. Competitions emerged along with the trend and differed in each era. In cold war era, a nation with biggest population might have greater strength than others. When it comes to the time after industrial revolution, development in industry could decide a country’s position in the earth. Actually, today’s main contest has moved from industry into high technology since the Second World War till now. And Apple’s boom is exact a mirror of the tide. As some critics say in their articles, ‘In order to understand how Coca-Cola became deeply linked with America identity, one must look to World War Ⅱ(The Great American Ice Cream Book and A History of the American Soft Drink Industry: Bottled Carbonated Beverages 1807-1957), to get why Apple becomes the identity, one must look into this creative age.
What are the problems bring by Apple with its development? Mark Weiner reminds the role of Coca-Cola played in African-American struggle for civil rights(137, Consumer Culture and Participatory Democracy: The Story of Coca-Cola during World War Ⅱ). Apple also arouses a series disputes during its growth progress, such as environmental issues, labor practice in China and the discrimination among different areas.
Questions: 1 Despite innovation and changes in era, are there any other reasons could explain the prosperity of Apple? 2 What do you think of the labor practice in China for Apple?

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6 Responses to What do You Want? An Apple or a Bottle of Coca-Cola?

  1. juholiveiramartins says:

    Today, I do not know what the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about the United States of America. The first things that come to mind are big companies like MC Donald’s, Apple and Coke, but I don’t know which one comes first anymore. What make these things so representative of the American culture? What makes them so powerful around the world? I think that the key to answering these questions has to do with the influence that these American companies have around the world. It is not just the brand that conquers countries, but also the desire that non-americans have to want to be like and feel like Americans. One example that was shown in class was that: “If we eat McDonald’s hamburgers and potatoes for a thousand years we will become taller, our skin will become white, and our hair will be blonde” by -Den Fujita (qtd in Schlosser). Perhaps this magic power that these companies have comes from the advertisements or is the result of the huge influence that the US economy has around the world or maybe it is something else. Americans have the ability to make people follow their “tastes”, their beliefs just by doing what they do best, consuming. For me, this magic influence is one more reason that makes Apple, MC Donald’s and Coke the brands that represent America.

  2. sho5ko17 says:

    I always had a positive image of Coca-Cola and Mc Donalds because of their joyful commercials and their wonderful advertisement. When I was a teenager, having their products was ‘fashionable’ for some teenagers in Japan. If I look back over those days, I feel curious why something that is not even good for your health was so popular and was needed from everyone. Coca-Cola and Mc Donalds were identity of America. I think some Japanese teenagers had an aspiration to America, and that led them to purchase American identity products. Nowadays, as Chen mentioned, I feel the Apple Company’s products have become one of them. I think the Apple Company product is a very good example to represent as an identity of America. Everyone have or wants those products. I believe one of the reasons for Apple’s prosperity was their advertisement. Advertising not only in America but also all around the world. However, if the Apple is stated as an identity of America, everyone who is true American should have an access to the product as a consumer. This is not easy because as everyone knows, the Apple products are not as cheap as Coca-Cola or Mc Donalds.

  3. Kevin Su says:

    You make a good point by comparing Apple to Coca-Cola, these are both big companies. In fact these mega-corporations that generate value off representing America. The reason they do this is because of the multicultural characteristics America holds. America is so different from all the other countries that it is easy to slap a label on any group of people and make money off them. You asked why Apple is so prosperous. It is because Apple watches over all their products and parts from idea to production. Despite of recent years, they keep a close eye on what they release to the public. They also have a very strict quality control and minimalistic design process. It is the uniqueness and uniformity Apple has throughout his product line. This might sound a little counter-intuitive, but this is how they make their money. The idea is to create this trend in their consumers mind where anyone who has their product is a modern, creative, and environmental friendly person. Thus making everyone want a macbook or iPod. As to what I think about the labor practices in China, I think this is the back room of Apple. By which I mean, this is where we seen the real intentions of Apple and the real message they are trying to send to people who work with Apple products. I am assuming by “labor practices” you are referring to the workers at Foxconn. In that case, I think that there are always pro’s and con’s when you work at a factory that manufactures for a big company like Apple. From bad working conditions to underpaying. But, I can’t say for myself since I have never visited Foxconn and what we hear are specific incidences reported by the media, which we all know have been wrong once or twice. Tying this back to Coca-Cola, we see that “representing America” can mean many things. What these big companies do is exploit the public. Since it is inevitable, all of us should at least understand and see what is happening behind closed doors for ourselves. Now let us enjoy a cold bottle of Coca-Cola and rock out to the tunes on our iPods.

  4. danbi13 says:

    I agree with the students who commented below. There are a lot of American companies that are famous and popular around the world. I think other companies could represent America not only Apple, but also McDonald’s and WalMart. However, it is true that many people think of Apple when they think about United States of America. I think your opinion about the reason that Apple became the identity of America is very acceptable. Nowadays, high technology is a method to have a strong power in the industry. In this respect, I believe Apple’s secret of success is the technological innovation. Even if it was not a company began in America, Apple could be a major company with its abilities. Coca-Cola has its historical background to become a major company in America such as World War Ⅱ, but Apple does not have historical factors related with American history. Therefore, I wonder if Apple really represents America and what can represent America more.
    By the way, I do not know current situation of China about the labor practice for Apple. I wish you mentioned about it in your reading response so that more people can answer it.

  5. wscarlett says:

    I agree with the statement that Apple is a very American product and often is the viewed as way to represent America. Apple has done a good job of trying to get every person in the world to use Apple’s technology. They have done this through some great advertising and by also by arguably creating the best product on the market in the cellular phone, laptop, mp3, tablet and computer areas. Because of such success and bold moves that Apple has taken over the years they have created a company that many others look up to.
    For the first question that you spoke about in your response I feel that a reason Apple became a very popular company is through the advertising that they have done. They produce many advertisements, in these advertisements Apple has shown the best product and plan to always provide the best product. Another aspect that they have been very popular is because of how determined Steve Jobs was. In biography about Steve Jobs they pointed out that Steve Jobs felt that the way the product was packaged was very important. These are some of the ways that Apple has become a very successful company.
    For the second question I am not too knowledgeable of this topic but I do know that many companies have large factories over in Asia. I know they do this to minimize expenses but because they are minimizing the expenses they pay the local workers very little for there work. I know that some bad things happen in these factories but there are reasons why many companies have factories there. These companies do this just so they can lower expenses and are able to maximize their profits.

  6. jpnchudo says:

    If we are asked to answer the question” what is the product or company that represents identity of the U.S?” we would mention McDonald’s or Apple. Apple is not a so old company and not so many years have passed since Apple emerged and started playing an important role in the market in the world. Then, what made it possible for apple to succeed so quickly in the world? What contributed to the prosperity of Apple? Technological innovation that Apple devices have in it might be partly responsible for this. However, the main factor for Apple’s success depends on Apple’s advertisement rather than the performance or capability Apple devices have. For example, in Japan, a number of people have products made by Apple. Attractiveness that makes people want to get them is something cool that they have. People in Japan, especially young people, think that those who have them look cool. This may be contributed to by Apple’s advertisements such as their design and TV commercial, which brought about its triumph over other companies. But, on the other side of this Apple’s success, as you think, there are several bad effects on Chinese laborers. they may have to keep waiting and patient until their wage become as high as other countries’ wage.

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