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Herding the zombie instinct

Apple’s preceived dominance is making the undead attack

Gulf News

Zombies are everywhere these days.

There’s the Walking Dead television show, the upcoming World War Z movie, and even “zombie” cells. According to an articles on, emailed to me by GN’s game guru Andy Staples, biologists have created “zombie” cells out of mammalian cells that actually perform better than the original cell. I guess that means these are more the “28 Days Later” type of zombies, not the “Dawn of the Dead” variety.

There’s been a lot of discussion about why zombies are so popular these days. Some say it’s because zombie scenarios show people being forced to be self-sufficient in difficult times, a common theme given the global economy. People forced out of their homes, struggling to keep their families together, and even facing food shortages were all mainstays of zombie stories that saw real-world equivalent’s during the past five years.

But now there’s another zombie “trend” making the jump into the real world: herding.

In the universes of World War Z and Walking Dead, zombies have a tendency to clump together to form larger and larger herds of zombies, eventually forming a massive, mindless wave of undead that amble blindly about destroying anything in its path. It’s simple, and it’s practically unbeatable.

In the real world, the zombie hordes seem to latch onto anything resembling an Apple gadget.

And it all started with the iPhone. In 2007, Apple stood above all the competition. Apple had the apps, the multimedia and the only smartphone that didn’t require your friend’s 11-year-old child to program. Then the zombies started to herd. The next thing you know, we were surrounded by companies selling slim, glossy, black smartphones with big screens.

These were definitely “Night of the Living Dead” zombies. They looked a lot like the original, but they were slower and seemed rather stupid (at least in the smart phone way). A lot of people spent good money on what they thought were good phones only to discover they were actually just a pale imitation.

There were also the lawsuits, caused by some zombies getting a little to Apple-like.

Then there were the apps. Apple’s original apps were not anything stellar by today’s standards, but they were unbeatable back then. Then the zombie apps showed up, but since apps are a lot harder to make, corporations got involved. These were your Resident Evil zombies, not too smart in general but with the occasional ass-kicking exception. The problem was there were – and are – countless hordes of mindless, stupid apps than do nothing except eat up memory on your mobile phone, and they probably cost us .99 cents.

But the most destructive zombies out there are the accessories. Walking into any store in the UAE and you’ll see what I mean. There are iPod earphones, iPhone covers and iPad keyboards. Not just a few either; there are walls of them. That’s great if you own an Apple gadget, but it’s an absolute nightmare if you’re looking for a case for a Samsung or BlackBerry.

I walked in one story the other days and picked up two devices (a FM radio adapter for my car and a new smartphone case) in the Apple section and asked the salesperson if there was a Samsung equivalent. I didn’t even get a “no.” He just walked me over to a small shelf of products far removed from the Temple of Apple, and just pointed to the rows of poorly organized Samsung gear.

“You’re on your own” was strongly implied. It’s was a 28 Days Later scenario.

If you need something for Sony or Nokia, best of luck to you. It’s probably out there somewhere, but you’re probably better off just ordering from Amazon.

Retailers have justified stocking Apple accessories en mass because Apple was king, but it’s looking more and more like they may soon have to give up that crowd. Samsung has since claimed the top spot in the global smartphone markets; BlackBerry is likely to be – yet again – the top selling smartphones in the UAE; and Apple is even facing problems back home. Over the last few years, the company hasn’t produced much that was really new (an iPad Mini is still just an iPad) and even seems to be backpedalling in its ability to produce good software.

In fact, Apple is looking more and more zombies-like everyday. Maybe then that happens, the makers of app, accessories and smartphone might finally snap out of their stupors and start thinking for themselves. If they do that long enough to stop herding, we might actually start getting some innovation in the market place again.