You’ll never guess who’s NOT going to get an iPad anytime soon. Yep. My dog, Rilke. Wait, what? I thought you were going to say me. Just shut up… it’s me. I’M not going to be getting one of the these things any time soon.
Why, you might ask? Well, I can tell you.
It’s not because they decided that cameras were a bad idea. It’s not like anyone cares about posting pictures or video to the internet. It’s okay. YouTube is dead, anyway. So is Facebook. So is Flickr. So is Skype. Wait… No they’re not.
It’s not because this little “i-can-haz-interweb-revolucione” machines can’t read Flash, one of my favorite internet technologies. Yeah, you heard me right. I love Flash. I’m not embarrassed about it. And the iPad can’t read it. It’s okay. Streaming videos are dead anyway. And so are very-fast, very clean vector-based navigation interfaces. Oh, wait. Those aren’t dead either.
It’s not for lack of a keyboard, either. In fact, I think I would love to type on this thing. Having to set the machine down on a table, look at the keys while I’m typing, and have the machine roll around and slid around on its super-shiny, no-flat-surfaces case sounds great. Or I could find somewhere to sit (nay, recline) and prop it up on my thighs… wait a sec, I’m going to have to get these thighs flat so the machine doesn’t slide down to rest on my crotch… okay, there. Whew. I didn’t really want a keyboard that I could type into while still actually holding the device. There aren’t prototypes available like a split-keyboard for thumbs. There are no interfaces that allow for handwriting or speech recognition, either. Nope, not available anywhere.
And it’s certainly not because I don’t need it, either. I mean, my laptop is only good for so many things, like web browsing, video editing, video capture, photo editing, word processing, blogging, watching movies, listening to music, downloading pod casts, reading pdfs and books, etc. And my phone is really limited, too. I mean all I can do with the little touchy-touch is to surf the web, check twitter, check facebook, make calls, read RSS feeds, listen to music, take pictures, upload pictures, make audio recordings, edit audio recordings, edit photographs, oh… and make calls. I just simply don’t have a device that does what the iPad does. … umm… Wait…. what is it that this does? Oh, right. I don’t yet have anything that is a “game-changer.” I don’t yet have anything that’s “the best things [Steve Jobs] has ever done.” I don’t have anything that so blatantly identifies me as a cutting-edge, conspicuous consumer.
And there’s no way it’s because of the name. I love that name. iPad. iPad. It just screams fast, cutting-edge technology. Monstrous processor technology. Crisp, vibrant, ultra-responsive screen. Razor-precise industrial design. Yep. The iPad. Do I really need to explain ALL the ways that this name is a horrible, horrible name for a cutting-edge electronics device?
Full-disclosure: If it were free, I’d take one. The processor does, actually seem revolutionarily fast. Blazing fast. And the 10-hour battery life in a bright, fast, 1.5 lb machine? That’s just sick. And the simplicity and efficiency of the software interface does, actually, look amazing. And the machine is pretty. And apparently it feels great in your hand. So there, I’m not a total prick. I actually love lots of Apple products. The iMac. The iPod. The iPhone. The Macbook Pro. Lovely and useful. Genuine must-have’s for me.
So what’s the real reason that I am not going to be getting one of these anytime soon? Because this little machine, from start to finish, from the initial design concept to the glaring design omissions, embody one simple principle: consumption. Not production. Not communication. Although each of these principles is an influence to some degree (phone, crappy keyboard), they’ve clearly been kicked to the curb as priorities.
How many times did Jobs, in his presentation yesterday, reference how quick and easy it was to purchase and consume content? You see a book you want, with one-click shopping you just tap it and it’s yours. In iTunes, you see a movie you want, you touch it and it starts playing. How many apps are for sale in the app store? How much money did consumers spend on apps in the last 18 months? How easy is it to build and sell apps for this device? How easy is it to buy a subscription to a magazine? A subscription to Major League Baseball’s site? There were plenty of times I started to wonder if the presentation was intended to sell the device to consumers or content-creators. Clearly, this device is designed for people who see those two groups of people as ENTIRELY distinct from each other.
So the real reason I won’t be buying one of these things anytime soon is because Apple seems to be taking it’s amazing history of innovative industrial design and revolutionary interactive interface technology, and turned it’s back on consumers as producers. From what I can tell they’re putting as much energy as possible into making a device that functions as nothing else other than an umbilical cord between the Web and your credit card. The only participation Apple wants out of you, from now on, is to input your credit card info into an iTunes account (probably using that shitty keyboard), sit back under that shade-tree, and read/watch/listen to what you can afford.
Financially, you’ll be able to afford plenty. Culturally, the price will be very, very high.