The iPad Press, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

by Mike Shea on 3 April 2010

I'm sitting here with my window open waiting for the UPS truck to drop off my iPad. In the mean time, like a lot of the tech folks, I've been swimming in iPad text.

I guess I shouldn't be amazed at the divergence of attitudes towards the iPad. People either love Apple or hate it. Still, I can't help but try to wrap my head around it.

The main stream press wrote a lot of positive words about it. Pogue, Mossberg, and Ihnatko all had great things to say about it, calling it a revolutionary device that will change how we look at computers. A few folks in tech circles also had positive things to say including Mike Arrington of TechCrunch who seemed more interested in poking Apple in the eye for their inability to control his access than actually talking about the device. Still he said it's going to change the marketplace.

On the negative, we've had a ton of articles bashing the device for its lack of a camera and its inability to run Flash. Gruber of Daring Fireball did a good job showing how idiotic "the press" can be with their claims that there is no way the iPad can get 4 hours of battery life when all hands-on reports say it gets more than 10.

Gina Terpani wrote an article called Why You Shouldn't Buy an iPad (Yet). Her point is valid, that the iPhone was significantly better a year after its initial release, but, as a few have pointed out, if you're waiting for the next model, you'll be waiting forever. I like everything I see about the initial iPad release and I can't wait to have it in hand. I don't regret my first iPhone purchase and I plan to get the very next model of the iPhone the minute it's released.

Then we have Cory Doctorow's call to arms entitled Why I Won't Buy an iPad (and you shouldn't either). Given the points of the article, I can't think of a single piece of consumer electronics that he'd approve of these days. Nearly all hardware is proprietary these days. It's almost impossible to get a Linux build up and running without grabbing some closed-source proprietary drivers to run it.

His claims that it hurts the ingenuity of children is also pretty outlandish. Gruber points to a 13 year old who has a day-one iPad application for sale on the iTunes store.

Bitching about Apple's closed ecosystem is getting a little old though, about 30 years old. We know Apple has a closed system, can we get over it now? If you don't like it, buy something else. If the rest of the market agrees, it will follow.

I can't help but sense desperation in many of these tech pundit voices. Cutting through the anger and disgust there's something else. Fear. I can understand Doctorow's fear that a popular closed-architecture system like this shakes the very foundation of an open computing system, but I think Docotrow is chasing dreams thinking that we'll ever have a truly open and popular computing architecture. Every sign I'm seeing is pointing to the opposite. We can either spend every day writing angry blog articles about it or we can just relax and focus on the things we CAN control.

But I also can't help wondering if there's a real fear of breaking away from the status quo of desktops and laptops. That a group of potato people similar to Gibson's consumers only with bluetooth earphones plugged into their ears, binary watches wrapped around their bloated wrists and "Han Shot First" t-shirts stretched around their sausage-like bodies are simply afraid of being dragged away from their cable-coated desk and out into the open with a device that lets them do nearly everything they want to do anywhere they want.

Like the RIAA, the MPAA, and print publishers; this group hates change. They want huge beige boxes and piles of CDs and a mouse with seventy five buttons on it. They don't want computers to change into simple slates of glass that focuses on the things you can do instead of what your Crysis benchmaks might be.

I don't think this group has much to worry about. The price for these sorts of hardware are simply too high for most people. It's hard to beat a $300 Dell these days for most folks.

As for me? I'm going back to wait by the door.