Technology culture – Cult vs Bulk

There is number of technology brands to which I refer internally (inside my head) as Cults. They are bright, full of passion and usually come with angry fan army.

But what is opposite of Cult brand? Let’s call it Bulk and see how their matchup goes.


These have two common traits:

  1. they know what are they about exactly;
  2. they are not shy to tell the world about it.

Cults bloom on attention and superiority claims.

  • The only professional image editor.
  • Best browser for techies.
  • Beautiful and premium computer.

Rings any bells? Cults take high ground – they find something that they are especially good at and discard the rest. Strict focus and strong image attracts people. No one has more vocal, dedicated and contributing community than Cult brands.


This is frankly rest of stuff. It can be old, new, popular, niche. There are hundreds of traits Bulk brands can have but these are not unusual ones:

  1. does everything you need;
  2. proven by time.

Bulks are boring. But they are survivors.

  • Tenth anniversary of.
  • Released version 10.
  • Still dominates market share.

And they are omnipresent. Cults come and go, believers switch sides but everyone and everywhere uses Bulk products. It is like breathing by now.

Cult vs Bulk

Cult is mighty and furious. Market will be conquered, unqualified competition destroyed and life will be awesome. One more year, million more users, ten percent more of something.

What Cult keeps hushed from its believers is that it will never win. Extreme focus (and double standards that come with it) are incompatible with crowd. People are not equal – they want different things and Cult only offers one.

Holy crusade against Bulk may rage all it wants, ignorance of mainstream mass will only be matched by ignorance of Cult devotees.

Bulk vs Bulk

Sometimes Cult lot is empty. There is only lots of Bulk around… And that works surprisingly fine. There are two basic outcomes in long and quiet Bulk grandstandings:

  1. brand with most leverage wins. Money, patience and skill build empires of scale unreachable to Cults;
  2. superior brand wins. While not actively brainwashed by either Cult or Bulk, people actually tend to pick good ones.

Cult vs Cult

Even if attacks at Bulk look aggressive they are picnic next to inter-Cult wars. There is only so much believer material and it will never be enough for competing Cults.

Arguments rage for years, new brands instantly take place of fallen ones.

Bulk quietly prospers in fortified corner.

Most important lesson here

There is one thing that we usually miss. Being Cult or being Bulk has nothing to do with being good solution. Cults are not born, they are created and being most loud doesn’t make them ultimate choices. On the contrary narrow focus turns them into gamble.

Brand wars have nothing to do with choice of good and best. They rage for financial success (I slipped the hard truth, sorry).

It is fine to be inspired with brand. It is wrong to be blind in your trust.

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  • grigoris #

    you are so right... at the photo world there are never ending cult wars. think of canon vs nikon. or are there bulk wars? anyway leica is probably cult.
  • Rarst #

    @grigoris Well... Last camera I owned was pre-digital era Kodak so I am not qualified to say about that field. :) Reminds me I should really go and buy digital camera some day, I don't even have one in my mobile phone (shocking).
  • The DataRat #

    "One more year" Been hearing that from Linux fanatics ~every~ year for past ten years. THIS will be the year Linux takes over the consumer desktop ! Of course it never happens ...but NEXT year it will. Also get a kick out of Mac cultists. I'm old enough to remember when Apple computers had a less than 3% marketshare (just a few years ago). The iPod revived Apple's computer biz, and iPhone doubled the Mac's marketshare. But the really funny part is the hate directed at Microsoft... Had Microsoft stop making MS Office for Mac back when the Mac's marketshare was only 2.7% and only going down, Apple would've shortly been out of the computer biz ! In other words: Microsoft saved the Mac. Apple zealots ~hate~ Microsoft anyhow, though. Quite remarkable. The DataRat .
  • Rarst #

    @DataRat >Apple zealots ~hate~ Microsoft anyhow, though. Quite remarkable. Cults can't exist without hating something. It's cheap (and low) way to make people feel superior and keep paying for that illusion.