Apple's congregation of enthusiastic followers are ridiculed by some, but envied by many.

In his blog, Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox was speaking with a Microsoft product manager on Monday, discussing 'influencers'.

Microsoft isn't a company that draws the positive passion Apple enjoys. The Microsoft product manager was looking at one segment of consumers in "his product category", Wilcox explains, "that would likely evangelize to others and be called onto as a reference for what to buy. He was right to ask about potential purchase influencers."

Looking for a future for Microsoft, Wilcox holds Apple as the great influence. He draws a proposition of a Mac using accountant with an Apple logo mug, who extols the Mac at his clients.

Because he's in a professional role, the hypothetical bean counter can influence his clients; and because he's an enthusiast he "transcends that role and becomes a Mac evangelist."

"Every single vendor should be courting evangelists like this one," Wilcox advises. "The trust in relationship makes these influencers powerful marketers".