Now, I’ve not read everything there is to read on this subject. I have googled. My thought is this –
Both Martin Cloake and Will Sturgeon on The Media Blog have made the point that the iPad is not quite all that. Also, that the press coverage of new apple tech is always disproportionate to mac’s sales figures (apparently).
There’s the argument that the iPad will revolutionise ebook readers, thus revolutionising newspapers, books, human literacy itself (plus the fabulous argument that anything by Apple will be revolutionary simply because it always has been). This is not really news, as ebook readers are yet to make any substantial impact and the web is already important as a main focus for journalism – our news-digesting trends are moving in a digital direction so surely that a better kind of ebook (or at least a more appealing one) seems to be beside the point.
Missing a trick
Some say the iPad is under-prepared – no good word processing, no Flash (therefore reduced gaming opportunities) and no camera or phone (which is the least we expect from our toys). At one and a half pounds, it’s not as light as it could be, it has no USB port, and the battery life isn’t up to much either (10 hours. Half that of it’s most energy-draining ebook rivals).
However, new tech is bound to be lacking in some key areas. Especially in something as pretty and over-exposed as an i-gadget inevitably will be – the manufacturers need to hold back some tricks to wow us into buying the mark-two version.
Already rumours abound that the iPad does support iWork – the Apple rival to Microsoft Office, and that it does in fact support a camera – though it’s not got one built in. Worries that the LCD screen will be under-par compared to not-yet-available, fancy schmancy AM OLED surely means that a new, AM OLED screen iPad will turn up after this one has sold a good chunk.
The real appeal of the iPad is tied to something more insidious than software, hardware, usability, or even looks. It’s the illusion of a cottage industry, it’s an inclusive, personal, modernity, it’s an ethos.
The iPhone was expensive and only available on contract, which is expensive in itself. I certainly wasn’t drawn to one, my cheapo phone being just fine for my needs. However, as a toy it is an unparalleled joy. The availability of silly little time-wasting games, handy real-life-browsing software and GPS made the iPhone more than just a high-class rival to the Blackberry brigade. It was interactive in exactly the way we wanted.
…and sharing it
It seemed to be invented to be experimented on. The billions of Apps that seem to pop, daily, out of every nerd’s back-bedroom are not just novel, useful, fun – they are small. Small and cheap. Like a geeky little made-in-my-shed bit of code, they combine the anti-establishment ethos of hackers and street artists with the from-me-to-you craftsmanship of early home-made computer games, or the arts and crafts movement.
This cozy, consumer-led, small-scale feel fits perfectly with our selfish desire for everything we own to be intensely personalised and our magnanimous it’s-a-small-world-after-all love of connectivity. Picking up a virtual Zippo at the Apps Store doesn’t just give you something stupid to show your friends, it makes you feel part of some slow-burn Woodstock of goodwill and creativity.
The iPad is essentially all the good stuff from the iPhone…without the costly O2 bill. I, for one, really really want an iPad. I don’t need it. It won’t replace my MacBook, my mobile, my PS3 or my camera. It will just be really cool. If I was you I’d start saving up my pocket money now…