Some Questions for You, Ms. IPad

"Someone ran over my iPod touch."

Well, that didn’t take long.  Everyone was expecting Apple to come out with a tablet computer in 2010.  Here we are, 27 days in, and Steve Jobs and his friends are already on stage practically cumming in their own pants about how awesome it is.  And I’m sure that I too will be at least mildly aroused when I see my first one in the flesh (or in the metal, as it were).  It looks pretty freaking sweet.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t have some serious questions about it.

Before I get to far into this, let me give you some of the best links and videos I’ve found while searching through the web like a starving and curious chimp for more information about the iPad.

  • The New York Times is of course live blogging the event.   The blog is pretty funny, especially the part when Steve Jobs pulls up the New York Times technology section, and the NYT blogger fears that if he clicks on the live blogging link, the space-time continuum may be destroyed.
  • First, click here if you want to learn almost nothing about the iPad, but get a sense of the awkwardly self-masturbatory feel of the press conference where it is being released.
  • CNN actually has some of the best videos so far.  I usually hate CNN, mostly because I think they’re mixing up Anderson Cooper with Jesus.  Here’s CNN’s best video so far.  A comprehensive look at the iPad, not to mention a video of a dog on a surfboard(?).
  • This advertisement from Apple (it will be a while before we see an opinion of this item that isn’t from its creators), makes the machine look like heaven.
  • CNN also has this interesting video hosted by an unsettling woman that gives the history of tablet pcs, which apparently predate me in age.

I’m no stranger to Steve Jobs’ technological wizardry.  I bought my first Mac about 4 years ago in college, and I’m still using it, even to write this blog post right now.  Though my computer is a little wheezy, I have to say this machine has lasted longer (at a high speed) than any other computer I’ve had.  I’m also a big fan of my iPod touch, which I bought after a man made me feel bad about him stealing my old iPod in Chicago.  So, considering my past experience with Macintosh Machinery, I have the following questions about the iPad:

Why in God’s name is it called the iPad?

I my opinion, the word “pad” has its place in the common consciousness, and it’s not with you, Apple.  I don’t want my computer to remind me of feminine hygiene products.  Sorry ladies, but it grosses me out.  I’m not the first one to make this connection:

Furthermore, I think it’s too close to iPod.  When you say iPad it kind of sounds like you made a speecho, which is a phrase my sister coined for when your tongue gets tangled while talking.  I’m wondering, how many people over at Apple sat around a big glossy table or on comfy couches with lattes and brainstormed before they came up with this name.

Are we being locked into a world where there is no Apple Alternative?

Recently my computer, which is full of crap I need for work, informed me that in order to access the iTunes store to download my free NPR podcasts, I had to install the newest version of Safari, Apple’s internet browser.  Beside the fact that I don’t use Safari because it kind of blows, I can’t fit it on my computer’s hard drive.  So, even though I paid for my iPod and laptop, Apple has made it so that I can’t use iTunes to the fullest extent.  It is shameless self promotion.  Judging by the videos of the iPad, this device is pretty heavy into software.  It runs on apple software exclusively; instead of shaping their machine to fit the usages already out there, companies and innovators have to shape their products to fit Apple’s hardware.  So, where does this leave us?  Well, I fear it leaves us with a monopoly of sorts.  It’s not hard to imagine that this computer will not open doors, but limit you to what you’re able to do.  If a company doesn’t conform to Apple standards, then that company has no place in the newest and hottest wave of technology.  Is that right and fair?

Is this a Computer Klutz’s nightmare?

If there are two things I’m good at in life, they are falling down and spilling drinks.  This computer seems like it doesn’t jive with these two skills.  The only reason my laptop has been able to survive for so long is because I can fold it in half, thus protecting its precious innards from my frequent battles with gravity.  The iPad seems like it’s wide open and begging for me to spill any number of sugary drinks all over it.  As a freelance writer, my computer is my lifeline, so I need something durable.  This baby is pretty, but can I fall on top of her twice in one day without buying 2 new iPads?  Fortunately, they do offer a case that covers the iPad, as well as keyboard and dock for upright usage.  Which brings me to my next concern.

What exactly is your definition of “accessory”, Mr. Jobs?

Must have.

Everyone in the media, myself included, is stoked about the price of this machine.  Though apple could charge upwards of $2,000 bucks for this machine, they start at just $499.  That is awesome!  I can afford it!  Of course, I wouldn’t dare to buy the first edition (see below for more on that).  However, what you are paying $499 for is basically an iPod touch that looks like it may have been put through the taffy stretcher.  It’s just like my iPod touch in so many ways, except that it doesn’t fit in my pocket.  No 3G network, no ability to make off the internet phone calls.  Without the ability to slip this puppy into my pocket on a walk, I’m not sure I’d want it.  What Steve Jobs is arguing is that this is not just an iPod touch, but more than that, and more than a laptop too.  Well, in order for it to be more than a laptop, it has to be easy and comfortable to use; this means that it has to sit upright so you don’t have to hunch over like a Neanderthal, and it has to have actual keys for good typing.  Which means you need to buy accessories.  Which means that the $499 price may be a tempting myth.  Which reminds me…

What kind of planned obsolescence does Apple have up its sleeve?

Some of the people I feel it is most justified to laugh at are those who line up early on the first day of the release of a new item.  In a world where technology is only new for 15 seconds, what is so important about being first?  It’s not a sign of pride.  Companies nowadays use a little technique called “planned obsolescence“.   For those who aren’t familiar with the term, you are familiar with its benefits.  This term describes the way in which manufacturers makes a product that, after a certain amount of time or usage, will become useless either because it’s broken or because it’s uncool.  Apple is the biggest offender of this.  That’s why there are so many different kinds of iPods.  So consider this:  The iPad doesn’t have a camera built in.  You can’t take video or pictures.  Do you think it’s because Apple doesn’t have the technology to put a video into the computer?  No, it’s because in about 6 months to a year they will release the iPad 2.0, which will have camera and video technology.  Then all those schmucks who lined up for the first iPad will throw theirs out and line up for the new one.  Then in another year they’ll release an iPad that can play adobe player.

I suggest waiting a year or two.  Then they’ll have everything on the computer that is necessary, and the accessories will be available on amazon.com for a discounted price.

I don’t want to sound too cynical, but I do think it’s dangerous to get too worked up about a product that is essentially a big iPod touch.  Let’s wait and see what happens, ok America?

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8 responses to “Some Questions for You, Ms. IPad

  1. Bravo my good friend, bravo. One detail that you did not mention that ALSO upsets me is that this product which is “more than a laptop” can do less than a laptop. Except it does less with a touchscreen. WOOOO FANCY!!! No multi-tasking, no serious image/sound editing programs, and no REAL internet, its apper-net. My opinion? WICKED LAME!!

  2. You are indeed cynical for such a young man. I happen to agree with you, but I am an old man. I like my technology to be tested by others. There is an old joke about the way you can tell who the pioneers are: They are the one’s with the arrows in their backs.

    Still loving your blog.

  3. Very good points Liam but yet I still am excited about the future of these new “pads.” Perhaps the version two will be the ICondom so we women can be grossed out as well.

    Love the funny video about the IPON. I actually think the idea of the music coming from within as intriguing.

  4. first time poster, long time fan.

    Is it just me or is my hand/arm going to be extremely tired from (a)carrying this thing around and (b)having to make a big gesture every time I want give a command that could be done more easily with a mouse.

    You tell me, Liam.

  5. oh my god liam you are so funny. i can’t get the image of you falling down with sugary beverage in hand, preferably on your butt down the stairs from your little loft in the ceniza apartment because your wearing socks.

  6. I don’t know, all this e-reader/e-book stuff just leaves me cold. I really can’t get excited about it in any way. I mean, mp3 players and iPods made music much more transportable as well as more capable. But gadgets like the iPad don’t do either as far as I can see. The good old book was always portable, and it’s perfectly simple and does everything required of it – it tells a story. I’m probably just showing my age, but I want to go to bed or go travelling with a good book, the (recycled) paper kind. Then again, the last piece of technology I brought into the house before buying this laptop I’m currently typing on was a record player – and yes music DOES sound much better on it. And I reckon stories read much better on paper. And I’m fairly sure I won’t change my opinion on this, though if anyone’s interested in trying to persuade me then my ears are…well…half open. Cheers, Nigel

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