iPad: The Maxipad Of Tablets

The back of the iPad

Apple had their must touted event yesterday which launched their unfortunately named tablet onto the masses. I can appreciate good design and great products, though I’m not an Apple fan-boy.

Let’s get one thing straight. You won’t be using your iPad to game. You’ll be trying to pass the time while you’re on public transport or something like that and you’ll be playing some games, though no Flash games, which makes this a bit annoying.

No flash=no Hulu

That’s a pretty bad equality to start out with.

iPhotos in action on the iPad

I’m not going to waste time on analyzing the specs and saying what I like or what I don’t. Clearly this product wasn’t designed for me. I’m more of a power user. If I buy a Mac, it’ll be the latest MacBook Pro 17. My wife’s got a MacBook Pro and she kind of wants the iPad, even though it reminds her of a maxi-pad. That shows me that the device will probably sell very well, just like the iPhone. It will also sell well to people who aren’t involved in IT or technology.

Just like the iPhone, Apple will endeavor to open up whole new markets with this device. The iPhone was the gateway to popularize iTunes and the apps. With the iPad, Apple have targeted ebooks, and other types of media that iPad users will voraciously consume.

You’ll get the latest apps, buy a few books because they are great to read on your tablet, and etc. When the paywall that will lock up the New York Times’ content goes up in 2011, you’ll use your iPad to read the NYT.

Prices start at $500, but my guess is that most people will go for the $830 64GB WiFi+3G model, though I could be easily wrong since a lot of people rarely leave a WiFi network, meaning that 3G capability isn’t that much of a requirement since they’ll have their iPhones with them as well.

Of all of the features that the iPad has, the one that makes it somewhat interesting is iBooks. I’ve got thousands of ebooks already, not counting the thousands that I have in paper format. I’ve never considered getting a Kindle since these books would probably not be compatible with it because of DRM and display issues. I’m guessing that the iPad will be a bit more lax when it comes to this.

Let’s get back to costs. With the initial purchase of the device, you’ll be spending something between $1,200-2,000 a year on the iPad. This includes 3G service from AT&T as well as the countless iTunes purchases that you’ll be making in a year. Dont’ get me wrong, I think that the iPhone and the iPad are great for consumers. It gets them to consume more.

The New York Times on the iPad

Back in 2006, when I was working in finance, I was spending between $100-300 on my cell phone bill. It was for work, and sure, I yapped away on the thing for hours on end to deal with my clients. Today, I’ve got a pay-as-you-go phone. I spend about $60 a year on it. I rarely use it. I do SMS and usually, I use it for work-related issues, but check this out. It’s the Chinese New Year holidays in Taiwan right now and I haven’t switched on my phone for a few weeks at least.

Technology can become a leash for people working in IT and journalism. You can easily reach me, but don’t try reaching me at night or when I’m off duty. I check my emails periodically during the day, usually at least 3-5 times. No more. I don’t use the email notifiers anymore. However, when I do check my email, I process all of it at the same time, if I can. If I don’t, I keep those emails in my inbox as a sort of to-do list. Once they are processed, they are archived. This system works well.

But I digress.

Back to the iPad.

Come springtime yes, I will be buying one, partly out of experimentation and curiousity and mostly to use as an e-book reader. The Kindle is $489, and the iPad model I’d buy is $499. But I’m guessing a lot of undiscovered potential lies in that $10 gap.

Or not.

This doesn’t mean that I dislike the device. If someone gives me one tomorrow, I’ll be happy to use it and to try it out. But at the announced prices, I’ll just get a MacBook instead.

I just read Lifehacker’s piece on the iPad, and I totally agree with what Adam Pash said. The iPad is a totally locked-down device. You won’t be able to install anything that doesn’t come directly from Apple. This means that in essence you are surrendering control over your computer and handing it to Apple. They are renting you the iPad. This subtle shift is easy to miss in all of the hoopla, but it shows where Apple is going with their next generation of computers.

The iPad, much like the iPhone, is completely locked down. The user has no control over what she installs on the hardware, short of accepting exactly what Apple has approved for it. From past experience, we know what happens when a completely legitimate application—from a huge company that’s actually partnered with Apple—doesn’t gel with Apple’s business plan. They reject it, and you can’t use it. And what recourse does the power user have?

DRM is used by Apple to restrict users’ freedom in a variety of ways, including blocking installation of software that comes from anywhere except the official Application Store, and regulating every use of movies downloaded from iTunes. Apple furthermore claims that circumventing these restrictions is a criminal offense, even for purposes that are permitted by copyright law.

If Jobs and Apple are actually committed to creativity, freedom, and individuality, they should prove it by eliminating the restrictions that make creativity and freedom illegal.

Attention needs to be paid to the computing infrastructure our society is becoming dependent upon. This past year, we have seen how human rights and democracy protesters can have the technology they use turned against them by the corporations who supply the products and services they rely on. Your computer should be yours to control. By imposing such restrictions on users, Steve Jobs is building a legacy that endangers our freedom for his profits.

Author: range

I'm mathematician/IT strategist/blogger from Canada living in Taipei.

3 thoughts on “iPad: The Maxipad Of Tablets”

  1. Why i don’t want a iPad :
    iPad is so ugly !
    iPad doesn’t support flash !
    iPad doesn’t have camera !
    iPad doesn’t support multitasking !
    iPad have a 4/3 screen…

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