how Apple’s iPad is like a TV

15 04 2010

You’ve probably heard that Apple released the iPad to much hype and many sales.  I know America consumes vast amounts of entertainment and is quite materialistic, but supposedly there were hundreds of thousands of iPads sold the first week, starting at $499 each.  (You can do the math.)  That’s a lot of disposable income (or credit card debt) for an item that no one needs.

Being a tech nerd, I initially found the iPad interesting, when I first heard the hype.  But then I realized it’s basically a big version of the iPod Touch.   And it’s similar to an iPhone, except it doesn’t make phone calls.  And it’s eerily similar to a portable TV.  (Yeah, you read that right.)   It’s hyped as the future of portable computing, but it’s not even a computer — it’s more of an interactive TV.  So I’m not interested.   If it were like a tablet PC, with a touch screen, and it let me run any apps and games I want, it would be great.  But it falls considerably short of that.  And if used as an eBook reader, it doesn’t even feature e-Ink technology (which has been combined with LCD screens) for reading that’s easy on the eyes.

While I was reading about the iPad, I saved a few quotes about it that made good points.  If you’re interested in reading those (which explains how the iPad is like a TV), here they are:

The iPad hasn’t brought us forward into the future. It’s taken us backward to a world of strip malls and televisions. So the iPad takes us back to the 1980s, or maybe even the 1950s. It’s likely to be a device that changes our future, but what that means is we’re facing a tomorrow where true innovation is sidelined by a device that represents a convergence of old media and shopping. ~ Annalee Newitz, 1/28/10

I know a lot of otherwise-savvy consumers and hackers who are already drooling over the iPad and putting in their orders. They hate the idea of a restricted device, but they love the shiny-shiny. I’m not saying that they should deprive themselves of this pretty new toy. What I am saying is that this toy represents a crappy, pathetic future. It is no more revolutionary than those expensive, hot boots I bought at Fluevog, and only slightly more useful. The only way iPads can truly become futuristic devices is if we hack them so that we can pour whatever operating system we want inside. We need to jailbreak these media boxes so we can install the apps we want, not the ones provided by the Apple shopping mall. Do not be content with a television when you can have a computer. ~ Annalee Newitz, 1/28/10

What Apple has done (again) is seize the moment with a combination of a device and a business model … even if e-ink provides a better reading experience for books (reading on an iPad will continue to literally mean staring into a lamp, just like reading on a computer screen), it doesn’t matter because it’s the total package of iTunes, iBookstore, 3G, games, apps, etc. that will pull ebook readers along with it. Consider that the iPad is a closed platform that doesn’t even multitask; if the technology mattered, those would be major considerations for the buyer. But they won’t be, because when you buy an iPad, you buy access to the whole Apple business ecology. ~ Karl Schroeder, 1/28/10

The App Store isn’t exactly the problem — it’s the way Apple runs and limits the App Store. … Rather than reject applications that it feels may confuse the user (like they claimed Google Voice or Google Latitude might), or applications that allow users to access naughty pictures, or even applications that it hasn’t had time to vet for the App Store proper, [Apple should] put those applications in the Restricted section. Before a user is able to install applications from the Restricted section, that user has to agree that the application may confuse their feeble minds, offend their delicate sensibilities, or even slow down their device. Is this such a problem? … Even better, [the iPad] could work like the package manager it actually is and allow users to add their own trusted repositories as sources for other applications … The point is, users should at least be allowed to flip some switch, somewhere on the machine, that says, “Hey computer, I’m an adult, and I take responsibility over how I use this machine.” ~ Adam Pash, LifeHacker, 01/2010

DRM is used by Apple to restrict users’ freedom in a variety of ways, including blocking installation of software that comes from anywhere except the official Application Store, and regulating every use of movies downloaded from iTunes. Apple furthermore claims that circumventing these restrictions is a criminal offense, even for purposes that are permitted by copyright law. If Jobs and Apple are actually committed to creativity, freedom, and individuality, they should prove it by eliminating the restrictions that make creativity and freedom illegal. ~ The Free Software Foundation, 01/2010

This is smart business. It is a corporate ruse designed to make users spend even more money in Apple owned stores on Apple products. It reminds me of the low cost of printers and the high cost of ink cartridges, or the subsidized portion of the cost of a cell phone dangled like a carrot in front of a 2-year contract. This is not an evolution in computing. It is only a logical next step in marketing media to consumers. Apple is attempting to gain a monopoly on digital media consumption, and they’ve had their foot in the door since the iPod. ~ DZeroStar, 1/29/10

If you want to read more, such as what goes around some of those quotes, here’s one of the articles I got some of that from: Why the iPad is crap futurism.  (Just be forewarned that the article has some “colorful” language in it.)

Along the same lines, such as why Apple locks down their products (i.e., iPod, iPhone, iPad) with DRM and restricting applications, here are some explanations:

Apple’s lawyers, led by David L. Hayes of Fenwick & West LLP, claimed in comments submitted to the US Copyright Office that the Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) system on the iPhone is necessary to combat drug dealers, safeguard the cell phone network, and prevent you from hurting yourself. They submitted these comments in response to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s request that users be able to “jailbreak” their iPhones — which means circumventing Apple’s DRM system so that they can install their own applications, just like you can do on any other computer and many other cell phones already. Apple seems to have missed that last part — just like you can do on any other computer and many other cell phones already. Instead, they claim that users removing the DRM system are criminals, who should be prosecuted. … But Apple isn’t concerned with your safety or security anyway. They are concerned with their profits. On the iPhone, even programs offered at no charge by people who would voluntarily let you copy their work as many times as you want, that only do something local on your own phone, without accessing the network, are restricted by DRM. What does that have to do with network security, or copyright? As expert Bruce Schneier says, with iPhone, “security” is code for “control”. The real reason for DRM on the iPhone is exactly what he says it is: “Control allows a company to limit competition for ancillary products. With Mac computers, anyone can sell software that does anything. But Apple gets to decide who can sell what on the iPhone. It can foster competition when it wants, and reserve itself a monopoly position when it wants. And it can dictate terms to any company that wants to sell iPhone software and accessories. ~ John Sullivan, 7/30/09

Apple claims throughout their comments that if users can modify their devices, they might break them. They say, “The modifications to the bootloader and the OS made to jailbreak a phone result in those programs being used in ways that were never envisioned in their creation.” Yes, that’s called innovation, and creativity. It is true that when you tinker with things you can break them. While I appreciate Apple’s apparent concern for my well-being, I would request that they leave those decisions and their consequences to me. I’ve lived most of my life with a computer that I can tinker with, and while it leads to endless hours of frustration, it’s also the way I and many other people learn how machines and software work. People that don’t want to tinker don’t have to — but who thinks that all tinkering, or any meaningful kind of user freedom, must be made illegal to protect people from hurting themselves? ~ John Sullivan, 7/30/09

If we don’t choose freedom over fear in this situation, then we have a whole lot more to rethink than just DMCA exemptions. Ironically, if we had followed Apple’s advice and failed to choose freedom in the past, the iPhone and their OS X operating system might not have even been possible. Flip through the licensing section of the iPhone’s software. You will find numerous free software licenses. The iPhone is built on a core of free software. It is built using programs that were later modified by people around the world in “ways that were never envisioned in their creation”, which have now had their freedoms stripped away by Apple. This is a company happy to profit from the free software made available by others, and from the creative, innovative process engendered by software freedom and DRM-free computers, which now wants to kick the ladder away to prevent anyone else from doing the same. How is any kid supposed to learn to be a programmer if she can’t install her own programs on her own phone? How is the next Knuth supposed to make computer science breakthroughs if he or she can’t have access to a computer that will let itself be programmed? Greed like Apple’s, which will stoop to the lowest kinds of threats to justify crippling everyone else’s potential, is the threat to our fundamental security that we should be worried about. But you know what? I agree with Apple. Don’t jailbreak your iPhone. Don’t buy an iPhone at all. ~ John Sullivan, 7/30/09

The last 3 quotes are from the article: Apple says you can’t have freedom because you might be clumsy, evil, and a drug dealer.   For some reason Apple failed to mention market share and company profits…

Let me say in closing that Apple has the right to release their products in this way.   I will not buy it, which is in a small way making my voice heard.  In another way, publishing this is making my voice heard.   And in the end, it’s just my opinion and point-of-view on it.  You can buy an iPad if you want it, but hopefully this helps you separate limitations from hype.

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3 responses

16 04 2010
Beppo

Lenovo has announced a notebook / netbook, where the 11.6-inch touch screen portion of the laptop is detachable, and it has its own processor, 8-hour battery, speakers, webcam, and Wi-Fi. In the separated form, it works like the iPad (but does even more). When connected with the notebook part, it is a laptop with keyboard, featuring an Intel Core 2 Duo ULV processor with a 128GB SSD hard drive, running Windows 7 (which natively supports touch screens, up to 10-point multitouch).

This page has a video of it: Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid.

Its estimated price is $999.

16 04 2010
Say What?!

apparently if people have the resources to buy these USELESS toys then I guess we aren’t in much of a recession.

21 04 2010
even a cat can play iPad games « Buffet o' Blog

[…] it’s just a humor blog (which you should check out if you like to laugh).   But I did give my opinion on the iPad on my other blog, if you want to read […]

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