“The iPad leaves me with the feeling that Appleâ€™s interests and values going forward are deeply divergent from my own. The future of personal computing that the iPad shows us is both seductive and dystopian. Itâ€™s not a future I want to bring into my home.” al3x on the iPad. Read it.
Wow. Between that and Adam’s rant on Lifehacker, I think they’ve pretty much summed up my thoughts on the device and my overall feelings towards Apple. “Seductive and dystopian” is right on the money.
As I watched the updates stream across Gdgt, I’ll admit that my interest was definitely piqued. I have never owned a Mac or an iPhone. I loathe iTunes. The only iPod I’ve ever owned sits on my desk, dead as a doornail. Despite all of that, I can see the potential for the iPad. I can see the damage it will do to the netbook and e-reader markets much like what the iPhone did to the smart phone sector. And more importantly, I was able to see myself using one.
And then I woke up from that dream, when I heard there was no multi-tasking on the device. I guess it was naivety on my part to expect Apple to learn from their mistakes. This is, after all, a company that waited forever to put something as simple as Copy and Paste into their phones.
People can say what they want about Microsoft but at least they give you a canvas and allow you to create something based on your vision. Apple gives you a piece of art they like and then tell you where and how to hang it. It’s funny to me that a company that prides itself on creativity and brilliant designs would do everything in its power to squelch that creative urge in others.
Apple’s Phil Schiller introduced MobileMe as “Microsoft Exchange for the rest of us.” Who are “the rest of us”? The people that are uneducated about technology? Does that mean everyone in the world, minus the Apple development team? Obviously if they know enough to market their products in that way, they’re deceitful enough to cover their expertise — why stop there?
Deeply cynical is exactly right. After all the moralizing, it’s clear that Apple’s critical design stance on innovation isn’t a bottomless well.
It’s the culture of fear and lack of education that’s hurting people in general, and Apple promotes that, while they stake their claim.
I think that the “closedness” of the iPhone and iPad is something that absolutely should be discussed. There is a lot of downsides (and upsides) to it. But I must say I don’t understand Alex’s view at all.
Is he saying that the iPhone has dampened peoples creativity? With 140.000 apps in the app store? If anything it has helped thousands of people and organizations to see the value of using an creating applications.
Is he saying that the iPhone is stopping people from run programs they downloaded? Sure, those downloads have to be approved by Apple, but in my world the iPhone has gotten droves of people to start downloading and running different programs.
Alex says: “if I had an iPad rather than a real computer as a kid, Iâ€™d never be a programmer today.” Why? Can’t the iPad’s sleekness attract even more people to software development, who had otherwise been turned off by something too techy? I see the iPad as an alternative to a traditional computer. Those won’t go away anytime soon.
Is it dystopian that there’s not a fully equipped garage attached to every house? Has that med people less interested in cars?
Unless Apple releases a really awesome software update soon, I think they missed the boat completely with this one. If I can’t use it for communication (no multitasking, no camera), nor for browsing (no Flash), nor as an alarm clock/picture frame (no widgets), then what in the world would I use it for?
Here’s another idea.
Maybe instead of thinking that it should be an all-purpose, open device, it might just be something you use to view certain streams.
I mean, I can’t hack my TV either (or at least, I haven’t tried). That doesn’t mean I don’t use it.
There are several VNC clients for iPhone and therefore iPad, so to me, the iPad seems like a nice device I can use in my living room or on my back deck to connect to a *real* computer with an open platform to do real work.
Just because you can’t figure out what to do with a tool, does not mean the tool is flawed.
You can’t use a hammer to send email or for VoIP communication – if Apple released the iHammer, you know, to drive iNails, would everyone complain that it didn’t have a built-in camera?
Besides… how many armchair critics have actually held the thing in their hands?
So as to put my money where my mouth is… one idea for the iPad:
Car computer. It has touch screen, plays music, videos, surfs, email (if you have 3G), GPS… and so on.
Buy or build a mount for it. Plug into the 12 V and audio in jacks.
Enjoy during the drive.
Get to your destination, take your iPad with you.
Olof makes some valid points above.
While my gut reaction is to agree entirely with al3x, thinking about it more, the open vs closed thing may be a philosophical difference that doesn’t actually manifest itself in reality as much as we OSS folks fear.
Is there really a sunset on tinkerers going on with Apple products? The iPhone jailbreak community is active, and you can get unapproved apps using it. No doubt someone will jailbreak the iPad instantly, too.
Often overlooked in the discussion about iPhone OS development is the fact that anyone can download the SDK, develop an application, and use it on their own device. In fact, you can even distribute the application to 100 people, outside the normal iTunes distribution channel, if you are a standard or enterprise developer (Ad Hoc Distribution). Enterprise developers have additional distribution options.
In my eyes, iPhone OS is a great platform for people who want to develop a targeted application, using a very intuitive SDK and robust developer tools, which allow you to take full advantage of the intended hardware.
While I appreciate open technology, the fact is that it just doesn’t always fit into the lives of most people. If you aren’t a tech enthusiast, being able to open a terminal on your phone or swap internal components just isn’t something you want to deal with. Product support for OSS devices is also usually spotty to totally nonexistent, which just isn’t practical for 95% of the public. I look at products like the Droid and Nexus One and wonder, although they are beautiful and extremely capable devices, whether they are meeting the needs of the general public…and if Google will loose interest, leaving these devices and the Android platform to whither on the vine.
There are certainly arguments to be made against the iPhone OS model ( and the seemingly tightening relationship with AT&T ), but you have to admit that, for the most part, it works very well for the vast majority of iPod Touch and iPhone users.
While I wasn’t entranced by reality distortion field, the more I think about it, the more uses I see for the iPad. Being in education, I can certainly see potential as a student device and instructional aid. Being in media development, I can certainly see value in media distribution and in niche areas of production an development. As a general geek, I can definitely see this as a great interface to a wide array of other technologies.
I’m taking a wait-and-see approach with the iPad, but I certainly think this is going to push other manufactures to rethink producing “single-use” devices.
Isn’t Al3x’s point that the iPad will become _the_ computer in a lot of households. (Much as cellphones are replacing landlines in many homes.)
And because the iPad is a consumption device, rather than a creative one it will produce a generation of consumers, not creators.
There may be 140,000 apps in the App Store, but _all_ of those developers grew up using “open” computers. Remember this quote from the iPad presentation “Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology is Indistinguishable From Magic”? Apple make their devices into black boxes, they just work, but because it is magic kids will never make their first steps programming from an iPad.
It is like buying your son a Porsche and expecting him to carve out a career as an auto mechanic. In reality he would take one look under the hood and be so daunted that it would only ever get serviced at the dealership. Give your kid a 20 year old Mustang on the other hand and he will spend his weekends under the hood just to keep it on the road; and in the process he would get a sense of achievement and sufficient knowledge to take him to the next step.
I know what you’re saying, but… what is the current percentage of computer users who are actively developing stuff?
I am pretty sure that well over 90 percent of the folks who use (more) open computers are already just “consumers”.
If someone has the inclination to be a developer, I think she will seek out an open platform.
I know I did.
And to your car analogy, just buy your son a 20-year old Porsche if you want him to tinker – or a 20-year old anything… (better yet, go back 30 years)
A modern Mustang is just as complicated as a modern Porsche, in all likelihood 🙂
My reaction is essentially identical. Apple increasingly is for consumers of content only, and doesn’t want even casual content creation, like home-recorded songs, movies or pictures on their pristine, closed devices. True content creation is right out. How cool would something like HyperCard be on the iPad? What kid wouldn’t want that?
These things are pretty much useless as an interactive educational tool. It’s really not much more than a TV, updated.
I’d be very concerned about giving this to a kid as their first computer.
@ Brett Legree
“I am pretty sure that well over 90 percent of the folks who use (more) open computers are already just â€œconsumersâ€.”
Exactly, and my concern is that they will view an iPad as “good enough” for their needs and it will replace their general-purpose computer. At least with a regular PC there are opportunities to tinker and script.
“If someone has the inclination to be a developer, I think she will seek out an open platform.”
But where does the inclination come from? Exposure, opportunity and interest.
The iPad doesn’t have a latch that lets you look under the hood. And without a regular PC the opportunity to jailbreak and hack the iPad is limited. Without these only a very determined kid would be able to make the step.
“And to your car analogy…”
The analogy wasn’t great, but it did illustrate the problem. Sorry.