You’re a left wing iPhone using pinko

No seriously it’s true that’s just what you are according to some new research that found the left favoured iPhones while the right favours the Blackberry (that hissing you heard just then was me dropping my 8500 into my tea).

The research was done in the US around the hotly contested race for the governorship of California. What it found was that iPhone users prefer probable Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown and Blackberry users prefer the Republican Meg Whitman (the former CEO of Ebay).

iPhone users support Democratic candidate Jerry Brown over Republican candidate Meg Whitman 57% to 31% while Blackberry users support Whitman over Brown 47% to 38%.

I am betting that if the research was done in the UK we would see a similar left/right technology split. The research throws a fascinating light on the politics of technology. Apple with its cool design and sleek look has always had a particular liberal creative appeal as part of its brand giving it an almost rebel brand status that eschewed the dull corporatism of rivals.

It’s interesting to see that as Apple products have become almost
ubiquitous, and much more widely owned than when it was simply a
computer firm, its original market appeal does not seem to have
been greatly diluted.

I’d always suspected that as ownership became more widespread via the iPod and iPhone so would the character that makes up its customers and while there has been some change that we can lay at the doorstop of ubiquity apparently not as much as I’d once thought.

Apple owners it appears (whether they closely identify with the brand or claim not to: like me) are still broadly residents of the liberal left.

The research from new technology a identified a couple of other useful nuggets worth checking out as the general election approaches in the UK.

It found that a “supermajority of voters” use Facebook and that the social networking site is not just for the kids. We already knew that, but with 62% of the under 50s on it that gives you a lot of people to work with.

Facebook has more than doubled in size since the 2008 presidential race and with its broad appeal its role in a California governorship race or a general election might not be huge but it is not to be ignored. It can do something for your political campaign wherever you might be running.

The research also found that nearly half of voters follow candidate’s Facebook and Twitter profiles with 40% of social media users supporting or following candidates via Facebook or Twitter.

We read last week about Facebook’s rise as a place to read news (it is now the fourth biggest and apparently ahead of Google News) the research had more evidence of this trend with 26% of voters saying they read political news and information via social media sites.

Social media is quickly becoming the political norm and as pollster Ben Tulchin puts it “candidates need to adjust with the times or be left behind”.


  • Faustino B

    iPhones are marketed as being frivolous whereas Blackberry’s are straight-up serious – that is the divide that correlates to voters being left or right wing. The cult of Apple isn’t real (“the character that makes up it’s customers”) – Apple fanboys are just computer and phone owners like everyone else, but with more designers amongst them and a strange and false sense of unity.

  • Adrian Langford

    Eh? Faustino’s comment seems a long way off the mark. As far as iPhone’s marketing is concerned, has he registered the heavy and continuous advertising in the FT pushing the use of Apps to make business trips easier and to help with investment portfolios and financial news? No sign of frivolity here, though the ads usually include a few apps to imply the user has a life outside work which is bang in line with Apple’s brand values.

    RIM’s Blackberry was memorably described as “texting for suits” so I’m not surprised that a survey shows Blackberry users to be a more conservative (big and small C) bunch.

    Apple has always had a strong creative element in its product design, software products and user base. This extends easily outside of the professional ‘creative’ community to appeal to broadly more imaginative types.

  • Gordon Macmillan

    Adrian makes a good point – Apple does extend to the “broadly more imaginative types”.

    Maybe the small and large “C” connotations are why Obama finally ditched his Blackberry — oh that and he needed something approved by the NSA (he apparently now has a Sectera Edge Smartphone – favoured by spooks).

  • Adrian Langford

    The survey results are fairly predictable for anyone familiar with the Apple brand, but it’s still tricky to articulate exactly why the findings feel intuitively correct.

    Continuing the “creative/imaginative types” theme – and the strong design ethos in Apple products (not just physical) – Apple products are value by people who value beauty and elegance. It’s not too far a stretch to say that is an idealistic mindset (going beyond the purely functional/practical), hence the more leftish political attitudes.

    More simply Apple’s historical positioning was very West coast/counter culture/radical (“Think different”) so that may even now make politically conservative people suspicious of the brand.

    Oh and spend some time in the Regent St store and check out the kind of people in there (not just the hordes of foreign kids using google mail, but the people actually buying stuff). I think that tells its own story.

  • Faustino B

    Ok I take it back – iPhones are also marketed as serious business devices, but are Blackberrys’ ever marketed as being fun? I just think the causality here is messed up – it’s not that iPhone owners are more liberal, it’s that liberal’s are more likely to buy an iPhone (because the wouldn’t want a Blackberry). It’s just the phrase “as ownership became more widespread via the iPod and iPhone so would the character that makes up its customers” that I object to, as it’s supposing that being an Apple customer makes you a type of person, rather than the other way around. I suppose that’s not really contradicting your main point at all though Gordon. sigh.


    Hmmmm interesting stuff

    I see it like this,

    Blackberry = serious, no mucking about, focussed, no nonsense, get the work done

    Apple = fun, play hard, enjoy your work, daydream., create

    If Blackberry were for Conservative types there would surely be an app on it for auto-erotic suffocation or other such bizarre sexual practices, surely?