Why I won't buy an iPad (and think you shouldn't, either)

I've spent ten years now on Boing Boing, finding cool things that people have done and made and writing about them. Most of the really exciting stuff hasn't come from big corporations with enormous budgets, it's come from experimentalist amateurs. These people were able to make stuff and put it in the public's eye and even sell it without having to submit to the whims of a single company that had declared itself gatekeeper for your phone and other personal technology.

Danny O'Brien does a very good job of explaining why I'm completely uninterested in buying an iPad -- it really feels like the second coming of the CD-ROM "revolution" in which "content" people proclaimed that they were going to remake media by producing expensive (to make and to buy) products. I was a CD-ROM programmer at the start of my tech career, and I felt that excitement, too, and lived through it to see how wrong I was, how open platforms and experimental amateurs would eventually beat out the spendy, slick pros.

I remember the early days of the web -- and the last days of CD ROM -- when there was this mainstream consensus that the web and PCs were too durned geeky and difficult and unpredictable for "my mom" (it's amazing how many tech people have an incredibly low opinion of their mothers). If I had a share of AOL for every time someone told me that the web would die because AOL was so easy and the web was full of garbage, I'd have a lot of AOL shares.

And they wouldn't be worth much.

Incumbents made bad revolutionaries
Relying on incumbents to produce your revolutions is not a good strategy. They're apt to take all the stuff that makes their products great and try to use technology to charge you extra for it, or prohibit it altogether.

I mean, look at that Marvel app (just look at it). I was a comic-book kid, and I'm a comic-book grownup, and the thing that made comics for me was sharing them. If there was ever a medium that relied on kids swapping their purchases around to build an audience, it was comics. And the used market for comics! It was -- and is -- huge, and vital. I can't even count how many times I've gone spelunking in the used comic-bins at a great and musty store to find back issues that I'd missed, or sample new titles on the cheap. (It's part of a multigenerational tradition in my family -- my mom's father used to take her and her sibs down to Dragon Lady Comics on Queen Street in Toronto every weekend to swap their old comics for credit and get new ones).

So what does Marvel do to "enhance" its comics? They take away the right to give, sell or loan your comics. What an improvement. Way to take the joyous, marvellous sharing and bonding experience of comic reading and turn it into a passive, lonely undertaking that isolates, rather than unites. Nice one, Misney.

Infantalizing hardware
Then there's the device itself: clearly there's a lot of thoughtfulness and smarts that went into the design. But there's also a palpable contempt for the owner. I believe -- really believe -- in the stirring words of the Maker Manifesto: if you can't open it, you don't own it. Screws not glue. The original Apple ][+ came with schematics for the circuit boards, and birthed a generation of hardware and software hackers who upended the world for the better. If you wanted your kid to grow up to be a confident, entrepreneurial, and firmly in the camp that believes that you should forever be rearranging the world to make it better, you bought her an Apple ][+.

But with the iPad, it seems like Apple's model customer is that same stupid stereotype of a technophobic, timid, scatterbrained mother as appears in a billion renditions of "that's too complicated for my mom" (listen to the pundits extol the virtues of the iPad and time how long it takes for them to explain that here, finally, is something that isn't too complicated for their poor old mothers).

The model of interaction with the iPad is to be a "consumer," what William Gibson memorably described as "something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It's covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth... no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote."

The way you improve your iPad isn't to figure out how it works and making it better. The way you improve the iPad is to buy iApps. Buying an iPad for your kids isn't a means of jump-starting the realization that the world is yours to take apart and reassemble; it's a way of telling your offspring that even changing the batteries is something you have to leave to the professionals.

Dale Dougherty's piece on Hypercard and its influence on a generation of young hackers is a must-read on this. I got my start as a Hypercard programmer, and it was Hypercard's gentle and intuitive introduction to the idea of remaking the world that made me consider a career in computers.

Wal-Martization of the software channel
And let's look at the iStore. For a company whose CEO professes a hatred of DRM, Apple sure has made DRM its alpha and omega. Having gotten into business with the two industries that most believe that you shouldn't be able to modify your hardware, load your own software on it, write software for it, override instructions given to it by the mothership (the entertainment industry and the phone companies), Apple has defined its business around these principles. It uses DRM to control what can run on your devices, which means that Apple's customers can't take their "iContent" with them to competing devices, and Apple developers can't sell on their own terms.

The iStore lock-in doesn't make life better for Apple's customers or Apple's developers. As an adult, I want to be able to choose whose stuff I buy and whom I trust to evaluate that stuff. I don't want my universe of apps constrained to the stuff that the Cupertino Politburo decides to allow for its platform. And as a copyright holder and creator, I don't want a single, Wal-Mart-like channel that controls access to my audience and dictates what is and is not acceptable material for me to create. The last time I posted about this, we got a string of apologies for Apple's abusive contractual terms for developers, but the best one was, "Did you think that access to a platform where you can make a fortune would come without strings attached?" I read it in Don Corleone's voice and it sounded just right. Of course I believe in a market where competition can take place without bending my knee to a company that has erected a drawbridge between me and my customers!

Journalism is looking for a daddy figure
I think that the press has been all over the iPad because Apple puts on a good show, and because everyone in journalism-land is looking for a daddy figure who'll promise them that their audience will go back to paying for their stuff. The reason people have stopped paying for a lot of "content" isn't just that they can get it for free, though: it's that they can get lots of competing stuff for free, too. The open platform has allowed for an explosion of new material, some of it rough-hewn, some of it slick as the pros, most of it targetted more narrowly than the old media ever managed. Rupert Murdoch can rattle his saber all he likes about taking his content out of Google, but I say do it, Rupert. We'll miss your fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the Web so little that we'll hardly notice it, and we'll have no trouble finding material to fill the void.

Just like the gadget press is full of devices that gadget bloggers need (and that no one else cares about), the mainstream press is full of stories that affirm the internal media consensus. Yesterday's empires do something sacred and vital and most of all grown up, and that other adults will eventually come along to move us all away from the kids' playground that is the wild web, with its amateur content and lack of proprietary channels where exclusive deals can be made. We'll move back into the walled gardens that best return shareholder value to the investors who haven't updated their portfolios since before eTrade came online.

But the real economics of iPad publishing tell a different story: even a stellar iPad sales performance isn't going to do much to stanch the bleeding from traditional publishing. Wishful thinking and a nostalgia for the good old days of lockdown won't bring customers back through the door.

Gadgets come and gadgets go
Gadgets come and gadgets go. The iPad you buy today will be e-waste in a year or two (less, if you decide not to pay to have the battery changed for you). The real issue isn't the capabilities of the piece of plastic you unwrap today, but the technical and social infrastructure that accompanies it.

If you want to live in the creative universe where anyone with a cool idea can make it and give it to you to run on your hardware, the iPad isn't for you.

If you want to live in the fair world where you get to keep (or give away) the stuff you buy, the iPad isn't for you.

If you want to write code for a platform where the only thing that determines whether you're going to succeed with it is whether your audience loves it, the iPad isn't for you.


  1. “something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka.”
    Uh… Google
    Cory, good points. I won’t be buying one, but I am looking forward to playing a bit with the 1st one I can.
    It’s another toy.

  2. That about sums up why I won’t be getting one either. I *like* being able to fix / upgrade / screw around with my PC and what I run on it, even in my very amateurish way. BUT practically everyone else I know is already in love with the iPad before it even reaches the UK. To be honest, I think they’re looking at the iPad more like you would a TV. Overall they just want to sit back and enjoy what it does; not least because most of the chatter is about how great the apps are, not the performance specs. Not that it will be a problem for Apple – after all that approach has worked brilliantly for the iPhone.

    1. Thats exactly my point to. It was mostly about the apps. and Not about the performance. But after a year or less of complaints, Apple fixed most of the concerns addressed with the iPod Touch but I would Love a Flash Media on it, so I can look at Instructional Video’s on some/most Web Sites/blogs! But thankfully apple gave us copy/paste.

      1. Google fail :(

        Google for “ipad weight” and this is the first hit…

        Apple – iPad – View the technical specifications for iPad.
        See full tech specs for iPad, including screen resolution, height, weight, performance, battery life, storage capacity, for Wi-Fi and 3G models.

    2. Don’t buy one then Nick. Nobody is holding a gun to anyone’s head. It is also not a replacement for your main computer any more than a netbook is no matter how much the netbook fanboys try to tell you they are. The iPad is not sold as a replacement for anything but rather as an alternative to the netbook for people who really don’t need netbook but were looking for a way to carry the web with them wherever they go without the complication or windows or linux.

      It sounds like you think of computers are a hobby and that’s great for you but a lot of people work on computers all day long either a business people, developers or IT staff. Many of these people are not interested in have a hobby of fixing computers when they get home but rather are just interested in accessing news and media in a simple way.

      I think Apple has been smart to allow services like Kobo and Amazon onto the iPad beside their own iBook store because it means that the iPad is the ultimate e-book reader.

    3. Bingo!

      “Overall they just want to sit back and enjoy what it does; not least because most of the chatter is about how great the apps are, not the performance specs”.

      And that’s a massive PLUS. Performance specs count for nothing if the product stinks. That’s what people shopping for the latest super duper Ghz machine doesn’t get.

      The release of the iPhone, Nexus One & iPad have not highlighted hardware spec as a selling point, the spin has been about content and that’s what counts. No one cares what’s under the hood if it does it’s job.

    4. NickHS you made two great points:

      First, and I quote, “I *like* being able to fix / upgrade / screw around with my PC and what I run on it, even in my very amateurish way.” You have a passion for technology, and (I’m guessing here) only about 20% of the world shares that passion and I’m another one of that 20%.

      Second, “To be honest, I think they’re looking at the iPad more like you would a TV. Overall they just want to sit back and enjoy what it does; not least because most of the chatter is about how great the apps are, not the performance specs.” That’s exactly right: it just works! Just like a TV, turn it on and type away, not much technical savvy required just follow the fields on the form and click Submit. I have a few Appleheads at work who say the reason they purchased an Apple product is because it just works. They didn’t buy it to take the screws off the back, they didn’t buy it to build an app, it just works.

      One of these Apple heads recently installed “Plex”, which is a fork of XBMC. I’ve had XBMC installed on my original Xbox since 2006 but when I spoke to him about it he wasn’t too impressed. At least not until the same software ran on his Mac Mini and he saw what it did himself. Plus the “App Store” is a concept he loves.

      In shorty (too late?) stay passionate about “doing” with technology and find a way to tap into the 80% of the market who will pay for something that “just works” and simply “use” technology.

  3. Meh. I still want one.

    And the thing is I don’t think it’s either/or here: I think there are lots of ways in which DIY/Make culture can co-exist with things like the iPad. I also think that there’s a pretty good chance that the iPad (or something like it– we’re just beginning this) will make for a different kind of publishing model that both extends the definition of “the book” (Xeni’s examples of the elements book are compelling) and “publisher/distributor” via the iTunes store. True, Apple is making a killing off of that, but the individual app developers are doing well too. So it seems to me that maybe someone who wants to self-publish an ePub of some sort might find a market via the iTunes store or other resources the same way that podcasters and indie bands have been able to market/present themselves that way.

    1. I agree with you that the two can co-exist. I’m glad your brought this, because I don’t really feel like the author covered that. I really like my iPhone, but I thoroughly enjoy ripping apart my other electronics. I think as long as the other tech companies are still in business, we won’t have to worry about a complete shut-down of hardware tweaking. Not being able to share copywrited material seems like a bad point to make, you’ve only bought one copy, why should that entitle to you more than one? Also, as far as content creation, this is just the beginning. When the creation applications start coming, people will start creating.

  4. You are a marvelous writer Cory and this one felt right at so many levels and just what I was feeling but unable to flesh out.. BTW the concept of iPad is good and I hope that someone makes the changes your article inspires

  5. You can use the iPad without using the App Store, and you can make apps for it that completely bypass it.

    How can you do such an amazing thing? They’re called websites.

    Say what you will about the App Store, but Apple has put tons of work into making Safari do amazing things, and on the iPhone and now iPad, that make it possible to make “web apps” that install locally, don’t require an internet connection, and look and feel like native apps. Oh yeah, and a lot of that effort benefits mobile browsers on other platforms too, since they’re just about all based on WebKit.

    If everyone who hated the App Store spent a little more time making awesome web apps and less time whining, we wouldn’t be stuck going to the Cupertino Politburo to find cool things to do with our devices.

    1. I don’t think that websites replace the App Store: the functionality of a website is (very) constrained relative to native code. Further, it depends on ongoing and continuous network access, making it inconvenient and battery-hungry relative to native code. Finally, it is disconnected from the native purchase mechanisms (and you can’t make an alternative native-code purchase system without Apple’s approval.)

      1. It seems that you are not familiar with the capabilities of web applications on the iPhone OS platform.

        “it depends on ongoing and continuous network access making it inconvenient and battery-hungry” – nope, webapps can be installed locally. take a look at Pie Guy: http://mrgan.tumblr.com/post/257187093/pie-guy

        “it is disconnected from the native purchase mechanisms (and you can’t make an alternative native-code purchase system without Apple’s approval.)” – if you want to participate in the native system, there are rules. if you don’t like the rules, there’s the web. and there’s no reason you can’t limit access to your webapp to folks who have paid you, it seems to be working for these guys: http://www.hottrixdownload.com/secure/index.php

        There are things about the App Store that suck, no doubt about it, but its not the only game in town, and its not the only thing the device can do.

      2. I don’t think you understand the power of HTML5. With HTML5 you can make a Javascript-based application with near native look and feel that actually installs onto your computer (or iPhone/iPad) — with no need for network connectivity after installation, and no need for the Apple Store. A bit hard to see how one could charge for an app delivered in such a manner, but for open source stuff it seems ideal (and not just on Apple hardware, either; an advantage of HTML5 is that it’s cross platform)

        1. You can’t access the sensors, which is an enormous handicap to non-native apps. You also can’t run after a reboot if there’s no connectivity (e.g., these apps don’t work on an airplane or other situation where you turn them off and then turn them on again and hope to use them). You can’t store complex user data without network access (and you have to trust the remote party to maintain your data).

          1. Wrong. Wrong. An HTML5 app works perfectly fine in airplane mode. That’s the whole freaking point. No Network Needed. No, they don’t go away after a reboot (I just rebooted by iPhone to see and the HTML5 app I’m writing is still there). The only point where you are correct is that you can’t access the sensors, but that’s what it means to write using open standards. Not every device has sensors,

          2. Thank you for the correction. I’m also glad to see that you understand that HTML apps are constrained by lack of the hardware access that is enjoyed by native apps.

          3. There are JavaScript libraries available such as PhoneGap that let you access geolocation, accelerometer and more on the iPhone.

            You can do a lot more with HTML/Javascript than most people think. And with the advent of HTML5 it’s going to get a lot more interesting. It has the potential to change the definition of “app”

          4. Cory, I suspect that we’ll see browser APIs to access the sensors in Safari and mobile Safari around the same time that we see those sensors get included in one of the MacBook lines, whenever that might be (possibly sooner, if mobile browsers for other platforms move first).

            While for the moment you’re correct that native apps still have that edge, I don’t expect that to remain the status quo.

            This is truly an exciting time to be a web developer.

          5. iPhone HTML apps can access the GPS. Haven’t tried an iPad yet, but if that’s possible, surely other hardware access is likely in the future? If it was, would that solve the tinkering issue? That seems to be the final sticking point here.

          6. Just because a standard doesn’t support sensors, doesn’t make that a a deficiency of all open standards, just the one you’re using. Even if the standard supports some sensor that doesn’t mean that you have to utilize that sensor. CSS2 supports aural stylesheets, but I’m not aware of anyone that uses them.

            Also, given that it is an open standard, you can readily extended it to support whatever the standard lacks. That’s the whole point of open. The only problem comes when there’s competing methods, but those can be worked out by the standards body.

            Open standards are good.

        2. HTML5 is still in it’s infancy. Much of what’s promised won’t be available for a long time.

          As far as I can tell, the main reason Apple like HTML5, is because one part of HTML5’s modular specification includes a way to embed video on the web. Without the ability to make use of HTML5 video, Apple would have to support Flash.

          Apple don’t want to support Flash, because it would affect their bottom line.

          It’s in Apple’s interest to ensure that the richest user experience is provided by ‘Apps’ only available from their online store.

          1. HTML5 is not about video (although that is a feature). Or Apple. Or competing with Flash (which was a dead end long before the iPad) It’s not clear what people say about HTML5 being “in its infancy” other than they don’t know the technology and don’t want to learn it. It certainly provides a better escape from the App Store than Flash.

          2. Well, “in its infancy” means that the specification hasn’t been fully defined, and that it’s not fully supported by current A grade browsers.

            HTML5 is a modular specification – and various parts of the specification are likely to be incorporated into browsers independently.

            Yes, it does provide a better escape from the App Store than Flash – but that’s because Flash doesn’t function on the device ;)

            I’m not sure if Flash is totally dead yet.

          3. the hypocrisy I hear from the html5 crowd is unbelievable. Flash sucks because it’s owned by a big company, it’s got processor/power and security issues. Now that I’ve passively dismissed everything flash and proprietary technology, excuse me while I go make something I could have built 6 years ago in flash for that celebration of all things open-source, the ipad.

            Flash and its amazing community of artists and developers have paved the way for people to do interesting things on the web beyond tables and div tags. They’ve pushed the original concepts of what a web experience should look like right out the window, sometimes with bad results. But they still got people thinking in new and different ways about what a web experience can be, and that is a good thing.

            Whether you like the flash platform or not (obviously, you don’t), do not belittle the efforts and innovation of this community. They have worked too hard and delivered way too many amazing and inspiring ideas to deserve this. Flash revolutionized video on the web. It was the catalyst that took video from being something you could do on the web to something the web couldn’t live without. Any market you see for interactive experiences made possible from the new capabilities of html5 was created by flash developers years ago. And it will be years before html5 can match the kind of things that flash can do now for the same development cost / time, at which time flash will have evolved into something that much more amazing.

            Flash is here to stay, my friend. Why? because the creative people out there, the ones that actually know how to make something beautiful, are very invested in it.

      3. Actually, with HTML 5 you can create apps that run locally without a constant network connection.

      4. Cory, you are ultimately right – about the walled App store, with the only way to distribute unauthorised code is via an ad-hoc model, sanctioned by Apple, but limited to 100 installs.

        You have to pay $99 to become an iPhone dev, which also gives you the ability to submit apps and sell them, too. There are many examples of kids, pre-teens, doing this.

        But when you see HTML5 pumping out Quake II at 30fps, fully native and standards based, it diminishes the notion that the App store is the be all and end all. I mean – the web is, as you say, what killed the CD-ROM, it’s truly open and accessible for most. And in a world saturated with the iPhone OSes (and it will be – more so, very soon) dissenters are going to capitalise on the emerging powerhouse that is the HTML standard.

        The truly innovative work more with the constraints than they do with with freedoms, I think that’s where the truly useful, exciting projects come from. As workarounds or ways of doing things more simply, removing whatever roadblocks there are. In this case it’ll be the App store, and it’s approval process.

        Where the vision from Little Brother Cory?
        Where the praise of the jailbreakers?

        This device is as locked down as you want it to be.

      5. So, the open web with open source development and open systems with open tools isn’t the open road to Elysium?


    2. The problem is I don’t want to write web apps for iPad. I want to write native apps that can take full advantage of the features of the hardware and can do amazing, wonderful things. I can’t do that with web apps.

    3. Yeah, and you can just buy the iPhone/iPad development tools and build your own apps. Or share source code and install apps without going through the store. It’s like everyone’s brain fell out. Yeah, you can still run your own code on these things. Yeah, you can make your own programs. Where do you think all those apps came from. Duh.

    4. You make a very valid point about web apps, Frijole. While I I agree with Cory that the technology is constrained – web apps have benefits apps do not have. For instance you don’t have to get permission from Apple to publish your web app. Also they don’t take up hard drive space.

    5. Be careful with the browser/open-web argument! This is a typical reply to criticism like Cory’s – but frijole is wrongly assuming that the web wouldn’t (d)evolve from the stage we found it in during the 90s. On the contrary, the whole iPad-strategy is all about changing the web, excluding free end-to-end communication from user devices and channeling every interaction through monitored and mostly commercial platforms. This is what’s happening right now – with most governments strongly supporting this business strategy for political reasons. Of course, the old internet won’t go away (at least not in some countries) – but today’s internet money, eyeballs and cultural power may simply go into Apple’s walled garden. What good would be your cool open, standardized web-app if only you and your friends are using it? Sure, you’ll have fun – but the internet as we know it, the greatest force of human intellectual development, will be dead by then…

  6. Tablets aren’t new. They’ve been around for a good while, and are only now catching on due to Apple releasing one.

    Respect to Apple if they can sell a product that no one has ever managed to sell well before, and respect to them if they can make it work well.

    Having said that, if you want a tablet, get an Archos.

    1. “Having said that, if you want a tablet, get an Archos.”

      Yes, buy a crappy, poor man’s tablet while watching everyone else enjoy their ipad. Great advice.

  7. My biggest gripe is the lack of compatibility with flash.

    I run a small website for an MMO community, and have flash all over the place. I even have trouble getting that to work sometimes, and can’t imagine what’s going to be involved in converting to html5. Basically, it’s not going to happen. I wonder how many other small sites will care to adapt.

    Still, I preordered my iPad and am eagerly awaiting it’s arrival. Can’t wait to sneak in a Netflix movie at work! (Mhaura)haha!

    (Does anyone hear that rumbling in the distance? Sounds like the pitter-patter of fanboys and haters preparing for battle…)


    1. Absinthe – so if flash-less devices become more popular your website will need to either adapt or die. Somebody will fill the niche that you don’t want to.

      1. I agree with your statement – that’s my point.

        I blame Apple for killing my site before I was ready to put effort into fixing it. :p

        Unfortunately, I rely a lot on the expertise of others for my site. I’ll have to wait and see what fixes all of you experts come up with!


      2. thats your answer? abandon flash? apple comes out with a device that can’t display a large and growing share of content because of no flash and your answer is to to get rid of it all together? And if the one button mouse had caught on I suppose we should all just get used to not right clicking anymore?

    2. haha, I really lover you comment.

      this article makes few strong points but it’s far too negative.

    3. Hi there,
      The question isn’t whether or not websites will care to adapt, it’s “what will users do?”. If a vast percentage of your community start to visit your site via ipads, iphones and other devices that don’t support flash (or don’t support it well) and your site’s use of flash makes it impossible for them to use, what will you do if they simply go elsewhere? Shrug your shoulders or adapt your website?

      That’s really what it comes down to isn’t it? Will ipad-holding visitors to a flash-laden website
      a) return their devices to apple demanding a refund?
      b) tell the people running the website to “fix your damn site, it’s broken”?
      c) go elsewhere?

      Only one of those options is a “win” for the flash technology and people who use it. And it’s the least likely option.

    4. Sorry Absinthe, I HATE flash. I can’t WAIT for HTML5.

      Why should I have to download a proprietory program I don’t want? I got sick of having to upgrade Flash every five minutes.

      I decide what goes on my computer. If your website is broken without flash it is not for me. Linux users have a tough time getting flash to run as well.

      What you say makes it sound like it’s giving you trouble but don’t tell me, let me guess… you’ve invested so much in this proprietary software you don’t have a choice anymore?

      Great article Cory… I’m a mom– not one of those mythical moms you talk about but one who has recently learned XHTML… my teen was impressed that I mastered CSS before he did! :)

    5. Got news for you, Netflix won’t work on the iPad…at least, I see no reason why it should. It won’t work on the iPod Touch, and all the iPad seems to be is a bigger version.

  8. Nicely written and I can agree that if I am spending my hard-earned money on something I want to really and truly own it.

    I also like the breadth of opinion I get here at BB. Not only can I read why the Ipad sucks, but why it is genius! Contrasting opinions expressed intelligently and without rancor. Geez, but I hope that catches on :)

  9. I have to completely disagree; I think it’s a good gadget for exactly the reasons pointed out that it’s a bad one, frankly. Yes, I completely understand why Apple’s walled-garden app store and the lack of a visible file structure give Linux/EFF/DRM-phobes the hives, and if there was ever an anti-Cory device, the iPad is it. But I see how my “timid, technophobic, scatterbrained mother” (literally) uses her iPod — as a handheld-size casual computer, and that’s what the iPad is… the first completely casual computer. No files. No windows. No clicking. Just apps. And, like it or not, that fills a fascinating little gap that nobody’s really thought about before.

    1. “No files. No windows. No clicking. Just apps.”

      Um… it’s called “easy peasy”, a Ubuntu remix for eee PCs. Someone else has done that before.

    2. I couldn’t agree more with gobo! It’s difficult for some people to get the exact idea of what reason the iPad is here for. If you want a device to put some screwdrivers on it and change its “lights” inside it or write some thousand lines of complicated code then buy a pc or a laptop and do whatever you want. But if you want something additional just to check you emails or some internet sites, play a simple game, check you facebook or your twitter account and do some basic work with apps like pages,numbers and others of the same kind then why not buying an iPad or some other familiar device. And why should i and some other billion people want to screw our devices, change all the hardware of which they are consinsted or write a whole bunch of code and all these just for our “pleasure”? I get excited with a whole other things! Everything that is written here in this article is good for the computer geeks to whom the iPad is not addressed to. All the other people who just want a simple device to “play” with and just that, will find iPad or any other familiar device helpful, joyous and stress free.

    3. I think the significant point is that it is not a “fascinating little gap”. I believe (as I think Apple does) that it is a tremendously large untapped market.

      As a Unix sysadmin, windows capable, mac loving, toy toting geek, I can easily see myself spending most of my time with this thing when what I want is to consume media or to communicate. Hell, I might even enjoy casually using it to make beautiful Keynote presentations to train people.

      Smart phones existed, but only select folks used them. Then came the iPhone. With Apple’s proven track record on the iPhone, even more people who never thought they needed a computer are going to be all over this thing.

      As much as we geeks love to play with the technology itself, 98% of the rest of the potential user base want something that “just works”.

    4. To me the question is whether making something ‘even your mother can use’ while maintaining some degree of openness is mutually exclusive. Some of the comments would have me believe that Apple’s motives are entirely altruistic in trying to help out my poor mother, when in reality the motives are anti-competitive and protective. If Apple’s so smart they could serve both masters quite easily; but they choose otherwise…

    5. But I see how my “timid, technophobic, scatterbrained mother” (literally) uses her iPod — as a handheld-size casual computer, and that’s what the iPad is… the first completely casual computer. No files. No windows. No clicking. Just apps. And, like it or not, that fills a fascinating little gap that nobody’s really thought about before.

      I remember the first time I saw a PC with Windows 3.1. It was, for all its problems, amazing. Before I had an Apple IIe, where I could only run one application at a time, and there was no way to share things between them; now, with files, windows, and clicking, there were so many more options.

      How odd to now think about moving back to the apps as an improvement.

    6. Except, of course, iPhones, blackberries, and all the previous tablet PC’s and web PC’s… ?

    7. I totally agree with gobo. I am bench-testing (hahaha) for my 80 you old Aunt & Mother! They are both sharp as tacks – love reading & are dedicated knowledge hounds. This is the First “Casual Computer” that I have seen that I feel they will warm to. Gobo you are absolutely correct in identifying this underserved niche market! I predict amazing app development in this budding market.

  10. Mr. Doctorow, I agree that open platforms are preferable to closed ones, all else being equal. But does that really mean that closed platforms (like the iPad) can never produce anything of value? The iPad is appealing to me because it does a very limited set of things very, very well (or at least claims to, and I consider those claims to be credible). In that sense, it’s a bit like a videogame console – another dedicated computer that it pretty much entirely closed to the consumer, that average users can’t easily program for. Is console gaming harmful in the same way that you contend the iPad is?

    If I buy an iPad, I’ll still have my desktop. I can still program for that desktop, if I choose to. I can still build websites, including ones accessible on my iPad, for free. I don’t lose freedom if I buy an iPad – I just lose a few hundred bucks. Assuming I can afford the cost, what’s wrong with that?

    1. Yes, consoles have done GREAT damage. Games used to be innovative, fun, and not full of pathetic quicktime events. There was once a flourishing culture of game modders, from which TeamFortress, Counterstrike, and Portal sprung. Luckily, the PC as a gaming platform is hanging on by its fingernails. There are still modders out there doing good work. But there are fewer and fewer of them. Why? Because stupid people who can’t handle technology wants all ability to control their own platform removed from them because it’s TOOOO HAAAAARD (cry).

      I’ve always known that we were moving inexorably towards an Idiocracy. The iPad proves that this movement is accelerating.

  11. All of the criticism aside. The most disappointing aspect of the iPad to me is that it is not intel based.

    That means no Bootcamp, no tablet PC software, no linux, no ability to run the plethora of tablet orientated software on the market. I am just left to pick and choose with the app store.

    I am a sailor, thus I am always searching the market for devices that make my job easier. Initally when I heard of the iPad I was instantly aroused by the idea of being able to carry around a touchscreen device capabale of running my favorite Plotting software. The idea of having an sleak and robust device in the cockpit that interfaces with my instruments was very exciting.

    What a let down to hear that it is basically an over-sized iPhone using an unheard of proprietary chipset. What a shame.

    1. Linux runs on ARM.
      That said, it would need some porting, due to the modifications made from standard ARM.

      I think that’s probably one of the reasons they did that. If not, they’re glad.

    2. The reason why the iPad isn’t Intel based is because Intel doesn’t offer a chip that dissipates very little heat like the ones ARM are based on. The iPad is too small to house any of Intel’s chips.

    3. Patient – just be patient a while longer. Yes, if you want a tablet this moment, then it’s either the iPad or Archos’ much smaller (5″) internet tablet. But Archos is working on larger tablets, Asus is getting into the game, ditto others. Looks like Android is going to be a good part of the mix.
      Nice thing about Android: if you want to build something for it, you can build it now, using a VM. No need to go out and buy a Mac to write software for an iSomething. No need to wait (ahem) patient-ly for an API to be released.

    4. Then the HP Slate should suite you just fine. Its Atom based and running windows 7. I will not buy an iPad when the Slate will cost just as much but will let me do much more.

  12. The entire idea of apps just disgusts me. You buy a device, and to fully realize the potential of that device, you have to buy apps that you haven’t even gotten to use yet. You have to buy special dongles to do things like expand the memory or connect your camera. You have to buy a special dock and keyboard to use the thing for doing actual work.

    Do I think the ipad is brilliant? Yup. It’s a wonderfully constructed piece of machinery. But it’s not for me.

    1. Eric, you don’t need to buy a special dock and keyboard. Any Bluetooth keyboard will work.

    2. “The entire idea of apps just disgusts me. You buy a device, and to fully realize the potential of that device, you have to buy apps that you haven’t even gotten to use yet.”

      You mean like…every modern computing device?

      1. Software-understanding-fail.
        I’ve not purchased software in years, and have a much fuller and more efficient computing experience.
        You don’t need to buy software sight-unseen to use a computer. You don’t need to pay for things that don’t exist.
        You don’t need to give up freedom to use something you payed for to ‘use’ it.

        The only proprietary software I use is Flash and rar.

    3. “The entire idea of apps just disgusts me. You buy a device, and to fully realize the potential of that device, you have to buy apps that you haven’t even gotten to use yet.”

      Huh? Did you ever use a PC out of the box without buying software? Your argument holds no water.

      1. Huh? Did you ever use a PC out of the box without buying software?

        Ohh! Me! Me!

        I’ve been running nothing but Linux on my machines since 1994, 100%, no dual boot, no virtualization, etc. (Well, OK, there was a brief period of time I ran FreeBSD, but that was before Firefox and Openoffice, so you had to run Linux apps in binary emulation mode, and that was a pain that didn’t work well).

        So, yes, I’ve been running PCs for 16 years now without buying a single piece of software. And it hasn’t really created any hardships for me, despite the face that I do a lot with my computer (earlier this year, for example, I released an “album” of music (Creative Commons), where everything on it was done with open source software, entirely, from sound source to mixing to cutting to distributing–everything from the soft-synths to the CMS on the website).

        At first it was a real pain–anyone remember getting X windows up in running in the early 90’s?–but by now it would be hard to think of a thing I would want to do that I couldn’t do. [Disclosure: I’m not a gamer, and I’m not an “early adopter.”]

        I got fed up the proprietary software ecology with Windows 3.1, so I voted with my feet and fingers.

        Works for me! Any inconveniences I’ve experienced are far outweighed by the lack of cognitive dissonance that would be caused by going the other way. Instead of complaining about the bad things about proprietary software and systems (but using them anyway), I just ignore them.

      2. I repeat:
        I’ve not purchased software in years, and have a much fuller and more efficient computing experience.
        You don’t need to buy software sight-unseen to use a computer. You don’t need to pay for things that don’t exist.
        You don’t need to give up freedom to use something you payed for to ‘use’ it.

        The only proprietary software I use is Flash and rar.

      3. I am tremendously amused that people think they need to buy software! What a world, what a world…

        I have two children; I taught both to install a free OS at age NINE. That’s right, if you can’t load, install and use Ubuntu you are less computer literate than a nine-year-old. Don’t be ashamed, but don’t pretend you know what you are talking about, either – if you can’t fix your own car you are not qualified to pontificate about valve stem design.

      4. YES!!!! I have purchased a PC (NO-OS) and have not purchased ONE piece of software for it! It runs Linux and OpenOffice and I was able to browse the web and check email via Evolution for gnome AND I use FireFox. I didn’t spend ONE thin dime on any software for it.

      5. I have. All you have to do is wipe the drive, install linux and you have a PC out of the box with tons of apps you don’t have to pay for. My 9 year old can do it! UbuntuStudio.org

    4. Right!
      Cuz my windows machine came with ALL the programs I needed, and all the memory I needed , and I never ever had to upgrade it with more stuff cuz it was PERFECT when I bought it.
      See your argument is just silly

    5. Uh, I’m confused how iPhone/iPad apps are different than applications for my computer?

      If a buy a Wintel desktop, I still have to buy Office or Photoshop or Web authoring software if I want to create content? Or I can try free equivalent-ish software.

      Similar seems true for iPhone/iPad. There’s a mix of paid and free apps, both for consuming and creating content.
      True, Apple is the gatekeeper for the apps on iPhone/iPad and that is not an insignificant difference. But as a concept, you buy the device (computer or iPhone/iPad) and buy software to do what doesn’t come with it. On average, an iPhone/iPad seems to have a similar software set out of the box as a computer..

  13. I have to agree that buying an iPad may not be the best choice. I, though, feel this way about most e-readers, because one of my favorite things to do with books is share them. Reading, enjoying, and then passing onto friends is what makes a book so different from anything else. Until e-books can be shared the same way, I’m out of this market.

  14. All of the points made here are also why no-one should buy an xbox or ps3 or nintendo ds or wii or psp, right? Seriously, why rail against the iPad specifically?

  15. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
    Seriously, you’ve really crystallized my thoughts on the iPad in an infinitely more eloquent way than I ever could have. Well done (as usual).

  16. Exactly. The iPad is another piece of clever corporate crack, another something for the rest of them. I wish Vonnegut were still around.

  17. Gah! Yes! Ever since reading Farhad Manjoo’s many calls for a computer that acted like an appliance, I’ve been trying to get out what Cory just so well stated. Bravo!

  18. I feel like the iPad succeeds in little else but removing the drive for individual creation or expression through creation. I’m holding out for the hypothetical Microsoft Courier. The idea of a digital paper pad is appealing to me in a way I didn’t think possible.

    1. After seeing what the Courier is all about, there isn’t anything the Courier can do that the iPad won’t be able to do. Just look at all the creative based apps available.

  19. I’m not really a gadget guy (despite the fact that I read BB), don’t really care about the iPad, and as a result don’t really have a dog in this fight. Be that as it may:

    I was a comic-book kid, and I’m a comic-book grownup, and the thing that made comics for me was sharing them. If there was ever a medium that relied on kids swapping their purchases around to build an audience, it was comics….So what does Marvel do to “enhance” its comics? They take away the right to give, sell or loan your comics. What an improvement. Way to take the joyous, marvelous sharing and bonding experience of comic reading and turn it into a passive, lonely undertaking that isolates, rather than unites

    I think this is a really good point, and everyone–gadget guys or not–should really consider this. The empirical data is pretty much in, and just about everyone who has examined the issue has found that the sense of happiness and meaning we find in life has a lot to do with the connection we fell to life (specifically,the connection we feel to our fellow Home sapiens). I think we need to keep this in mind when we think about technology.

    And this is a very, very complex issue. Some technologies that seem, on the surface, to unite us (and some “social media” things come to mind) are assumed to unite, and some do, but you have to consider just what kind of connection they create, what the human implications are, and what kind of connections are sacrificed.

    But all too often the subtlety and nuance of the issues are kind of glossed over in our hurried manner of evaluating things new.

    Technology is altering our lives–there is no denying this–and in some ways it seems pretty obvious that it is for the better. But what we shouldn’t do is just assume that it’s always for the better; we should enter into the discussion in a very lucid and clear way. Cory’s example above is very illustrative. The naive analysis is “more access, more often, to greater quantities” is better, but this misses some very real, very human considerations.

  20. It’s not just the iPad. I hope you extend this line of logic to everything digital, Cory.
    No smartphone that requires the use of the carrier’s channel to buy and install apps. No digital downloads of any media that is governed by an EULA, especially one that cuts off a lending or reselling channel. The used CD market is going to suffer just as much as the used comic book market for instance.

    I like the Maker manifesto – I became and engineer solely because I liked taking things apart to find out how they worked. I love to tinker and create stuff. But I’m enough of a realist to know that there will always be _two_ markets. One that’s relaxed, open, home-brewed, and one that’s slick and corporate. I don’t see how the open proponents can reconcile the corporate world with their ideals. Maybe they don’t want to, but it’s pretty hard to put that genie back in the bottle.

    As long as there’s always an outlet for the alternative route, I don’t see the problem. I can own an iPad and still build my own stuff with an Arduino.

    1. I do indeed. My I am typing this on an Ubuntu Thinkpad, tethered to a rooted NexusOne.

      1. But you keep comparing the ability to get into a ThinkPad with the inability to get into an iPad. Laptop != Tablet. I have upgraded hard drives in plenty of Apple laptops. There are third party suppliers who can sell you external, long life batteries that can also act as USB device chargers and power adapters…
        A better comparison would be the expandability of the JooJoo Pad compared to the iPad.

        I’ve got nothing against the criticisms of the iPad. Every product is built with compromises – even open source ones. The trouble I have, as others have said is the link between the observations and the conclusions drawn.

        I’m sure this will be buried in the pages of comments now, but it’s a shame because we do need the discussion.

      2. What if I’m replying to you on my Jailbroken iPad tethered to my Jailbroken iPhone on a non AT&T netowrk running 3rd party software from a 3rd party appstore?

        Controls are *always* subverted.

        1. Exactly right. sleepybrett The iPhone has been a boon to the hacker community, which put a large effort into jailbreaking. I don’t see any reason to assume that the iPad will be any different.

      3. But isn’t the place from where you are writing this the problem?

        The majority of Americans aren’t using their computers for creation beyond Word documents. They are simply using their computers for taking in media.

        Now, I understand how you would be upset if Apple also announced that they would be stopping the sale of all of their laptops in favor of an iPad-only store. But this hasn’t happened and won’t happen.

        My grandmother, my parents, and many of America’s workers are not of the same Linux, Bittorrent, tech world you reside in (Pogue’s dual-review article grasps this). Please don’t paint an advancement in their world as a collapse of your own. To be perfectly frank, your argument would suggest the inclusive, techies-only view, a world in which, if you’re not cracking open the computer and coding your own operating system, you’re not really doing what computers were intended for.

        Is the fear that this will kill all tech creativity? Not only is that false, it’s just plain crazy.

      4. And I’m writing this on my IBM 8086 running DOS tethered to my 1981 Honda Civic which use an engine from my 1974 BMW R90 Motorcycle which ….

        Techno geeks buying or recommending stuff does not make a “consumer” product successful. If it were so, we would have had our toasters and fridges running some version of Linux. Remember, the 1980’s when an Internet connected appliance was the next big thing?

        Consumers make the market – techno geeks just play with toys that fancy you today – tomorrow you find something else to hack while the poor consumer suffers from your lack of focus.

        The iPhone defined the touch smart phone – much as you would like to hug and kiss your blessed Nexxus – it would not have existed as a commercial product without Apple blazing the path. The success of the iPhone made every techno geek suddenly take notice of touch screen based phones. In the 90’s everyone was singing praises of the NokiaN52479743 or something and very few independent developers were making any money out of it.

        The iPad will do the same – it actually BRINGS FAMILIES together! I can read a bedtime story to my son, we can play games together, search for information together without having to lug a laptop to the couch – or try to teach my 4 year old touch typing.

        The jealousy the techno-geeks have for Apple is simply not rational. At least Microsoft was bashed for its horribly, unusable products – Apple makes very well designed, consumer friendly products and you despise it.


  21. If you want to make software and content for the iPad, you should really make it for the web instead; this is the most important thing the iPad is, a great physical form factor for a web browser.

  22. I bought a new laptop last fall. I love the Dell. It has a 9 hour(+!) battery. The screen is very crisp. The keyboard is comfortable. All this with a huge disk drive for something like $700 total.

    But, I was one of those people who thought Windows 7 was going to solve some problems I’d been having with XP. Instead, It’s been a nightmere. After seven months, I still haven’t been able to upgrade all of my old programs to work under Windows 7, even though I even upgraded to Windows 7 Professional. That only “bought” me one of my old programs, and the ability to run remote access should I ever need it.

    I really regret not buying an Mac laptop.

    In a few years, when I buy a new laptop, I think I’d like something a little more tablet-like, but I still want a keyboard. I’ve found the electronic book readers like the Kindle to be just too small to read comfortably, so I will always need a bigger screen. I guess I’ll never be able to migrate from a laptop to something smaller.

    1. Laurie, I’m an enormous fan of the Lenovo Thinkpads. They’re rugged and lighter than the corresponding Apple laptops, can be easily customized (I have a big, heavy battery I bring on long trips, and a little battery I use when I’m going from the office to home, shaving a pound off the weight), and priced about the same (if not cheaper). The service plan is INCREDIBLE: next-day, on-site, worldwide hardware replacement for about $100/year (that is, you call in with a hardware problem and within 24h a service tech comes to your home or office with the replacement parts and fixes it on your desk or kitchen table — really!).

      For the OS, I use Ubuntu, a really simple to maintain Linux flavor. It does everything I ask of it, with one or two tiny exceptions — I ended up installing XP in a virtual machine because I had one InDesign file I *had* to edit every so often and that was the easiest way to do it, and I’ve had some trouble with SecondLife. Apart from that, it Just Works, and all the software is both free as in beer and free as in speech.

  23. “So what does Marvel do to ‘enhance’ its comics? They take away the right to give, sell or loan your comics. What an improvement.”

    I’m sorry, Cory, but how has Marvel taken anything away? It’s not like they’ve stopped selling printed comics – this is just another way to read them. If you still want to read and trade your floppies, you’re completely free to do so. If that doesn’t matter to you and you don’t want the clutter (or the dead trees), then hey, this is another way to access the content.

    I’m still skeptical about the iPad, but let’s try to maintain some perspective here.

    1. Sorry, you’re saying that, in a review of the iPad, I shouldn’t comment on the constraints in iPad apps if you could buy the same content somewhere else without those constraints? I don’t follow you. If this is “perspective” it appears to be the kind you get from a funhouse mirror.

      1. “Sorry, you’re saying that, in a review of the iPad, I shouldn’t comment on the constraints in iPad apps if you could buy the same content somewhere else without those constraints?”

        Not at all. I’m just saying that your comments aren’t entirely accurate, and that you’re accusing a company (“Misney,” in the grand Obamacare tradition of mockery by abbreviation) of something it plainly hasn’t done. None of your rights as a consumer has been taken away.

        Also, are you really comfortable calling this a review? Have you actually even held the device in your hands yet?

        1. “None of your rights as a consumer has been taken away. ”

          Of course they have. You buy the Marvel comics through the iStore ,and you don’t get the rights that consumer law guarantees you. The fact that if you bought them somewhere else, you would get them is irrelevant to the person who bought the comics in the iStore.

          “Also, are you really comfortable calling this a review?”

          Yes. It is a review of the terms of service, business practices, and legal and technical systems underpinning the device. You can’t hold them in your hands, but you can read them and follow them, and I have.

  24. I agree with some of your points, Cory, but I think they’re stretched a little far to one extreme.

    Yeah, Apple used to include schematics with their olde systems, but did you honestly see the day when YOU would crack open your iPad to fix it? You also used to be able to fit a wrench into the engine compartment of a car — not so much anymore. Technologies mature, they move on, they shrink, they accrete, and they eventually move away from Joe-sixpack and his screwdriver. A blender is one thing to fix; a cutting-edge tech device is another. I’m a hacker at heart, but even I have reasonable expectations.

    1. We’re taught that electronics is a black art and that the devices we buy aren’t fit for user servicing – a lot of the time this plainly isn’t true.

      How about just being able to change the battery? Why do users have to send their device away for ‘servicing’?

      A lot of the manufacturer’s arguments are disingenuous. The real reason is almost always profit.

      1. This is disingenuous… Apple machines are user serviceable – both memory and hard drive can be replaced by the user, without voiding the warranty, even. Instructions for doing so are easily found on line. Further, Apple will install a new battery in store, at no charge additional to the cost of the battery. But for those that really want to do it themselves, it’s QUITE possible, just not Apple supported. You can buy a battery from various third party suppliers, and installation is no more difficult than swapping out the HDD – which is trivially easy.

        As for the design considerations that call for a ‘non user replaceable battery’ – it enables a manufacturer to make a case thinner, lighter, and more durable while increasing the capacity of the battery included – a trade-off of sorts, but not an unreasonable one.

    2. In fact, I am typing this on a ThinkPad that is incredibly well designed, superb hardware, with many user-serviceable parts, from the hard-drive to the keyboard to the battery to the internal expansion bays. I have some older ThinkPads that are out of warranty that I’ve absolutely been able to open up and fix. As the father of a small child, I want to be sure that Poesy grows up knowing that “if one person made it, another person can figure it out” and is always willing to take anything apart and see how it ticks, the way my grandfather, a self-taught watchmaker, did his whole life.

      1. Any chance that Thinkpad has wireless? Any chance it’s using proprietary wireless drivers?

      2. My pops was an OG hacker analog AMPEX dude and he taught me well, so I want you to know that I agree fully with your hacker mentality, but I still think that serviceability is not the end-all-be-all when it comes to design. Yes, you will ultimately be able to service an iPad at home. iFixit will probably have this covered in the next week or so. But with regard to easily serviceable parts, the natural tension between elegant industrial design vs. general serviceability doesn’t always allow for both cake-having and cake-eating. You must admit that your ThinkPad does not have the sexy of the iPad, right? I can’t imagine your ThinkPad is headed for inclusion in the NY Museum of Modern art. The Chemex coffee maker I use daily, regarded as one of the best ways to brew a mind-blowing cup, has a home there. It embodies simple and elegant design, but it’s a REAL bitch to clean. Dude, sometimes it just ain’t easy.

  25. I’m not usually one to comment, but the echos of Rob Malda are too strong not to. iPad may not be for the Free Software crowd, I’ll grant that. Some people just want to tinker, and I’m fine with that.

    My great hope is the iPad turns into something like the iPhone phenom. I love my iPhone, but I recognize that Android is a good-(ish) platform and Windows Phone 7 has a lot of potential. It’s my sincere hope that Apple manages to kick people out of their ‘PC’ mentality and develop competition to this device.

    So… don’t so much pooh-pooh the iPad, tell us how you’ll do things better, or, better yet… SHOW US. MAKE something better. The world will be a better place for it.

  26. I love reading all the hater posts — exclusively, by people who have zero direct knowledge of the product beyond what they read in someone else’s post — who pooh pooh said product and promise its imminent demise. Like Commander Taco’s infamous slam on the iPod, these naysays are doomed to be dredged up repeatedly as proof of the speaker’s idiocy.

    OK, full disclosure, I’m a total Apple fanman. However, I’m not super interested in the iPad and probably won’t buy one.

    But dude, before you slam something, play around with it. What kind of geek forms an opinion based on supposition? What kind of hacker decides something is unhackable without at least trying? At the very least, the iPad sports an elegant form factor with a decent processor under the hood.

    Phone designed for consumers: iPod = brilliant success
    Open source phone designed for hackers: OpenMoko FreeRunner = abject failure

    Only a fool creates products for the latter group.
    Only a hacker with weak ‘fu lets that defeat him.

    Disappointing post.

    1. Unfortunately, the Freerunner wasn’t designed for hackers. It was designed for lusers. First, they went through a very painful hardware iteration, where they sold hardware that 1) didn’t work, and 2) wasn’t usable and 3) only slightly resembled the hardware they eventually shipped. Second, they went through three iterations of their software design, jumping from the pot, to the pan, to the fire. Hackers don’t do that. Hackers pick a good design in the first place.

      1. Actually the FreeRunner had a couple problems, one of which was that they couldn’t really decide who their target market was. It was both hackers and lusers and people in the OpenMoko community were bitterly divided on that point.

        The other problem(which is sort of an isotope of the first) is that there were a bunch of OS/kernel-level guys trying to do UI/UX and failing miserably. The one distro with a usable interface was Qtopia from Nokia(nee TrollTech). This was actually not too surprising because it meant that there was at least one or more UI designer/artists working on Qtopia and getting PAID to be a designer rather than getting paid to be a kernel/distro hacker and thinking “Oh, this UI/UX stuff doesn’t involve anything as complex as trapping interrupts, it’s just application-level graphics, I’ll have it done in a weekend”.

        I love the OM team and the guys who work on Angstrom and OE, and they’ve done great work on getting Linux ported to just about everything that beeps. I have at least 4 or 5 embedded Linux devices around the house and they’re all running some flavor of OE or Angstrom. But, like most bare-metal developers, including myself, their UI/UX sucks.

        The thing that Apple realizes, and few others get, is that a great user experience comes from great UX designers. Who are paid to be designers and artists and think like human beings and NOT like kernel geeks and whom you don’t ask to even write the UI CODE. You have applications-level programmers who do that.

    2. The iPhone vs. FreeRunner is an apples-and-oranges comparison.

      Yes, the iPhone was made for Average Joe and the FreeRunner was made for hackers. But the FreeRunner was a terrible phone even for hackers: it was nearly as expensive as the iPhone, was missing several key pieces of hardware, started with an OS that was missing basic features (good luck making a call on it), and was for all intents and purposes unfinished. By contrast, the iPhone was a completed, ready-to-use package with more features. The fact that one was made to be closed and the other was made to be open had far less bearing on it than the fact that one was made by a gigantic corporation with money to burn and an eye for quality and the other was an experiment from a start-up company that thought they could get the community to finish making their product for them.

      I think there’s a tenuous line between the hackers and the consumers, but they are both important. As the FreeRunner demonstrated, if a consumer can’t pick it up and use it, you won’t be able to sell enough to make it worthwhile. On the other hand, if you lock out the hackers, who will be left to innovate and develop on the platform?

      It’s strange that we even have to make this distinction, because it wasn’t long ago that everything was hackable. PC, Mac, toaster: everything could be opened and modified into doing something else. But now, companies are actively trying to prevent that, and that’s where the problem lies for the 2% of us who want to do something different.

      By the way, the argument about more specialized technology making “hacking” of all sorts less practical is flawed. Even with fully computer-controlled systems, shade-tree mechanics can still fix cars. Sure, they need more than a wrench, but with the right tools they can still get the job done. Likewise, you can still fix a computer, or rip apart a video game console, even though the technology has changed considerably. As the technology becomes more advanced, so do the hackers.

      The only thing that makes things less hackable today are companies specifically attempting to stop hackers. Car manufacturers design proprietary parts, only available from their factories, and custom protocols that require expensive diagnostic tools that only they make. In computers, companies institute DRM and other lockouts to make sure only their code (or code they bless) is allowed to run.

  27. I am a fan of BoingBoing, and even more importantly, a fan of Cory Doctorow. I save the episodes of This Week in Tech that he appears on because I find his perspective laden with truth and a heavy dose of reality. I not only appreciate where Cory is coming from, but all of the research and experience he has in regards to intellectual property, DRM, and personal rights/space.

    All of that said, I find it disingenuous to read a glowing review of the iPad on BoingBoing (written by the fabulous Xeni Jardin) – it was in fact, one of the first reviews that I read – to be followed hours later with Cory’s glowering disapproval of the device. It seems like a house divided…

    Now, I will agree that Apple is also disingenuous – that DRM will appear in the iBookstore after it was vilified by Steve Jobs (when it was convenient to lash out at Amazon and their DRM-free music offerings) is hypocritical at best. And I would also agree that one of the best benefits of print media is the ability to share it – I’ve done that with comics and books my entire reading life. I would add though that if I were to travel back in time to my comic book prime in the mid-late 80’s and had a chance to talk to execs at Marvel and DC, they would *strongly* encourage me to have my friends by those books I was all to eager to share. Publishing houses were never happy to lose revenue based on the concept of sharing. I’m not saying this in their defense; I only raise this point because we make it seem as though DRM (in any form) is a “new” concept. Had the technology existed 20 years ago, it would have been imposed then. What then would have been our reaction to this in a pre-internet pre-proliferation of information age? Whatever you call DRM – self-preservation, a scab crossing the picket lines of content, evil, the last hope for content creators; I don’t care – it’s not made with the END USER in mind. And it’s getting harder to avoid. The slouch towards piracy is directly correlated to this inability of the modern user to have content the way he or she wants it. The cable companies are still enforcing their version of DRM by never intending to move towards an “a la carte” structure of channel selection. And so, I (and many others) have gone elsewhere for content. And it’s the same for books, music, comic books, etc. I fully intend on reading all of Cory’s novels on my iPad (in their PDF’ed DRM-free versions). There may come a day when the media consuming hordes will rise up and push content providers and distributors to remove the restraints and abandon the ideology that when we purchase their “stuff” we’re not purchasing a license to view/read/listen to their product. We become partakers in media the moment that we click buy-it-now.

    I am an IT professional by trade. While I appreciate the frontier spirit that Cory mentions regarding the Apple ][ and it’s ability to be hacked, the iPad isn’t in the same class of device. Many of the devices that I use on a daily basis fall into the same category: I don’t hack my microwave, or my calculator, or my watch. I know that comparison is weak, but I do believe that the iPad is a game-changing device for all of computing. Whether it’s the first generation of a brand new way to interface with technology or it’s destined to become the best way to integrate media into our lives – well, we’re not far enough down the road to see what the future brings.

    One of the greatest uses of the iPad will be for the modern student. I never quite understood why Amazon didn’t relentlessly pursue textbook publishers to IMMEDIATELY put their content on the Kindle platform. It might have saved that device. As it stands now, I think that the Kindle will be the “e-waste” of tomorrow that Cory speaks of – it’s a bad iteration of an ugly one-use device. I can see my oldest son (who is 8 years old) using a gen 1 iPad for schoolwork. It will be the textbook medium of the future.

    I have always and will continue to appreciate Cory’s dedication to the end-user. I just disagree with his take on the iPad.

    1. @Anon – Growing up, my Dad had a personal library of nearly 13,000 books. I learned the love of books and reading from him. For convenience, today, I have a personal library of some 70 books I bought via my Palm Pilot and another 300 books I own via fictionwise.com. Do my children see me reading them? No. What they see is me staring at my ipod touch or my Nexus One for hours on end. Can they browse my library and pick up a book with a title that catches their eye? Nope. That was something I did daily. So where does this e-library phenomenon leave us? Even now, libraries struggle with how to loan out e-books. The scent of books will be lost forever in 100 years.

      1. Ahh, I totally agree, the heft, the scent, the tactile response to an actual book is very satisfying. I’m not arguing against it, but rather for the convenience of having all that material to read with you *when you are ready for it.* Like, on the train. I realize not everyone commutes by train, but lots of people do, like me, and having all that reading material available without the hassle of all that weight is very very tempting. I would rather have all my textbooks on an iPad if I were a college student than the actual books. Think about how cool books could be if they included content like this.

        I’m certainly saddened by the realization that books have gone from being a luxury to a disposable commodity, and I will still purchase actual books for the reason you mention, but I want the eBook too. In fact, buying an actual book should give you a way to download the eBook for free, IMHO.


    2. If i create a document in pages how do I print that file? How do I move that file to another computer? Where is it saved? The iPad manages to make the simplest of tasks difficult. Is it solving any problems or is it making more? I believe it is making far more for the sake of being slick.

      So you say it is a consumption device not a creation device. At the same time it is being called a laptop killer. So i guess I’m not allowed to make anything anymore. Just consume. Can I write code on this and use ftp. Basic things people that create do. No, sit down and shut up and buy an overpriced ebook. Weak device. Very weak.

  28. I think Cory’s argument ignores the fact that there are multiple levels of “tinkering” and “making.”

    For some people, these activities involve intimate messing with computer hardware. For people like myself more interested in making top-level software or website content, I want the hardware to be invisible. Opening and tinkering with an iPad or an iPhone, for me, would be a complete waste of time, time that I could be spending writing, coding, or drawing.

    I think the assumption on Cory’s part that all making and tinkering needs to be involved on the hardware level comes off as a little haughty.

  29. The problem with the iPad isn’t that you can’t code and compile whatever you like to run on it. You can.

    The problem is that Apple charges you $99 a year to do it.

    If you pay for an ADC membership, you can experiment to your heart’s content, compile whatever the heck SDK guideline-smashing binary you want, and even share the source code with other hackers (who have ADC memberships) to compile for their devices.

    What Apple really should do is to change their policy so that you only need the $99/yr ADC program to sell through the App Store. Compiling for your device should be free.

  30. You make some interesting points, but the parenthetical in your headline (“[I] think you shouldn’t, either”) really bothers me. It’s fine that you don’t like the iPad and what it stand for, and I don’t disagree with some of your arguments, but why should everyone have to feel the same way? You’re implying that there’s no room in the market for both open devices/standards and the iPad, but I don’t see the evidence for that. If the iPad is truly the second coming of the CD-ROM or AOL and won’t be able to compete with the little guys, won’t the problem work itself out? Why tell people not to buy it and turn this into a philosophical battle?

    One more point — freedom and choices can be great, but unlimited choice isn’t always a good thing. The reality is that most people don’t want to tinker with there electronic devices and don’t want to spend hours and hours customizing their products or figuring out how to use it. Simplicity and ease of use often trumps choice and flexibility.

    1. “won’t the problem work itself out?”

      Yes, it will, through public debate about the shortcomings of the design philosophy.

      “Simplicity and ease of use often trumps choice and flexibility.”

      I refer you to the fallacy of the excluded middle.

  31. “Incumbents made bad revolutionaries.”

    You lose me right off the bat. You’re going to claim than that Apple has been a “bad revolutionary?” I would argue that they’ve been phenomenal revolutionaries in hardware. I’m actually hard pressed to come up with someone who’s been successful and more revolutionary in the realm of technology people interact with: iPods? iPhones? AIW PCs? Laptops? Sure, in every case, Apple was a tangential participant, then became a dominant competitor with a walled garden, proprietary strategy.

    Would I rather tinker with my iPhone/iPad? Sure. And for $99 I can without much headache. Can I make stuff that’s consumable by the world without apple’s say so? No, and I do see that as an issue. I also do think that control has done some good along with the bad. It’s not an unmitigated terrible thing to have a controlled app store, and it’s enabled a generation of small publishers who were floundering in the “shareware” model, unable to control their IP or effectively make a living off their stuff.

    On the publishing side, as someone who makes a decent portion of my living writing for Magazines, I do believe that the iPad is a great experiment. What Wired, NYT and the WSJ are at least attempting to do is a path towards a future where people pay for the content they most appreciate.

    I don’t think it saves publishing all by itself. But I think we’ll look back in a decade and point to this little experiment as a harbinger, just like we look back to the Gen1 iPod and the iTunes music store as a harbinger of how the music business would go.

    I say all this never having touched the darned thing. My point is simply “closed=bad, always and without exception” seems a thin argument.

    1. If a system is closed, someone (or thing) has to act as a gatekeeper.

      If this gatekeeper is a company, what would stop the company from acting purely according to financial interest? Who should the company be accountable to?

      How can we be assured that this person / or groups of people are going to act in a fair and honest manner for the benefit of all?

      If you follow all of these questions through to their conclusions, it becomes obvious that we’re dealing with a situation which is more closely aligned to politics, than commerce.

      We have to debate the issues involved. I think it’s essential.

      Without prior debate, I think it’s quite logical to argue that ‘all closed systems are bad’.

  32. We can demonize the consumer all we want by painting him or her as an ugly, sweaty eyeball filled with impotent rage – but the simple fact of the matter is that we are all consumers of some sort and, moreover, I warrant the vast majority of us are far more consumeristic than creationistic in nearly every facet of our lives.

    We watch TV – be it ABC or Hulu or Netflix or whatever. Not many of us create TV.

    Same with movies.

    We listen to music but how many of us compose? How many even play an instrument?

    We read – but we don’t write. Without wanting to rankle, even you did not actually create the comics you passed on – you simply were an intermediary. A librarian, if you will.

    We browse the web and largely, we don’t create the web. (Flaming ranty posts notwithstanding…)

    If you are a grognard deep down in your soul, then yeah the iPad is probably a poor choice as a primary computing platform.

    But I think that most folks are consumers. Honestly, I think that most that even name themselves as creators are, in their more honest moments, consumers who aspire to more. It’s not that I will ever actually write a novel – it’s that I need to beleive I *could* if I wanted to.

    And the silly part is, I actually am not hindered in that in any way by this device. If I want to build something, I can. Noone is forced to trade in their PC for the iPad. And as this ubiquitous computing model gains traction – new methods to use it creatively will emerge. Let’s not fool ourselves, the first PCs were not great build devices either. Rather, they were devices you built. Literally. We might get high-fallutin’ about ‘building our own PCs’ today as opposed to purchasing them – but we’re not doing much more than assembling them. They are the Sauder furniture of electronics. I might be able to snap together a kit for a bookshelf. I don’t fool myself into thinking I’m, therefore, a carpenter.

    Look, I see your point – I do! In fact, I don’t own anything by Apple except an iPod (which I won at work years ago). I don’t have a smartphone of any kind – let alone an iPhone so I am not shilling here for a Jobsian future.

    Wanting to be creative and constructive and instrumental in “futureneering” does not preclude the purchase of an iPad.

    Your best point (and, really as far as I can see, your only valid point) centers around the ownership of the stuff we buy. Who owns the movie? Who owns the comic? How does (or rather; Should) DRM factor into this. These are not problems that will go away by boycotting the iPad as the eTab or the nGizmo is sure to be hot on it’s heals. Producers of content are looking to maximize control over their content in a worlkd where loaning a comic book to a buddy no longer affects two or three sales, but can potentially be ‘borrowed’ by thousands.

    They have a legitimate concern. You have a valid point about ownership. The real war is not with Apple but with the tension between these two points of view.

  33. Safari is reason enough for me. I can’t think of a better way to get at all the amazing free content out there. In bed that is.

  34. It’s an easy tool for consumers to get content. But best of all it helps lower the bar for the artist who create content. Few will create their art on the pad, but many will create with the pad audience in mind. Take a close look even with Apples crap stores and rules talented people can get their products into a large market place and get paid for it.

    Cory you have grown and matured over the years to the point you are one of the incumbents, you should know and remember it’s not about the viewing gadget but the continent viewed.

  35. I won’t be buying one, for the same reasons I have become disenchanted by my iPhone. The UI has some fundamental flaws, that are fixed when I Jailbreak my phone (a process which Apple thinks should be illegal).

    If I am in an app, or on a contact page, and I realize that my brightness is too low ( I frequently lower my brightness to save power), the process is ridiculous.

    Exit the app you are in by hitting the home button.
    Find the settings app.
    Find the brightness adjustment, and adjust it.
    Exit settings.
    Find the app or page you were in all over again.

    By Jailbreaking, I have the ability to stay in the app I am in and just do the following.
    Swipe my finger across the top of the screen bringing up a menu with the ability to toggle wi-fi, adjust brightness, toggle 3G etc.
    Adjust it, close that little menu, and you are still in the app you were in.

    If you have 50 games downloaded, why can’t you put them in a folder, so you don’t have 500 icons to swipe through on the screen? Jailbreaking will let you do that.
    If I am not looking for a game to play, why should I need to see all of those apps? I have 90 apps on my iPhone, and by using “categories” a folder program, I have everything on 2 pages.
    If you want to check your email while listening to Pandora, you can’t unless you Jailbreak your phone.

    1. Sounds like you want a Palm Pre – webOS lets you do all that you describe simply and elegantly. And Palm also embrace the ‘homebrew’ community, applauding their efforts at improving the experience of the device. Sadly, Apple have good marketing, Palm don’t.

    2. ditto.

      Plus, Jobs can talk anti-DRM all he wants, but his entire business model is proprietary. (iow, stfu Steve Jobs)

      We should be able to complain about problems with DRM in music without listening to every song every made. I’m sure some of it is great music and I’ll buy it, but DRM still sucks. It means if there’s different media for the same content, then reviewing the media (like an iPad) is completely valid.

      And it shouldn’t be a choice between pirate or DRM options. One where ppl can own what they pay for and install apps onto their very own device would be a good place to start.

  36. One the one hand, this is one of the best-written pieces I’ve seen from Cory, and I also happen to agree with the sentiment. On the other hand, I just have to laugh at the seriousness at which Cory approaches this Important Question of Our Time: to iPad, or not to iPad? Surely this must be the subject of intense debate! The future depends on our answer!

    Or, you could just look at it and go, “Eh, I don’t think I need one of those.”

    1. I just have to laugh at the seriousness at which Cory approaches this Important Question of Our Time

      The question he’s arguing isn’t whether or not to buy some random piece of consumer junk. The question is about what kind of society we’d like to have, and in particular our relationship to technology, which is becoming fantastically important in our lives.

      Over the last 15 years, the rise of the personal computer and the web shifted a lot of power away from the rich and important. 100 years from now this will either be seen as the beginning of a major societal change or a minor blip. The rich and important are certainly working for the latter. How about you?

  37. I think it’s also important to not just focus on this ONE product, or Apple’s unrelenting trend towards “hands-off” products, but to the changes it could effect across the board. Imagining a future where more and more “consumer” electronics are nickel and dime transaction appliances that can only do what the manufacturer deems acceptable is dire at best.

    What of OpenOffice if PCs only allowed M$ Office? How many more times do we have to learn that always needing an internet connection to use a piece of software is a bad idea (especially in a country falling behind in the broadband game?) In many ways, a pad without the ability to morph and change and become the device you need is really just a fancy newspaper.

  38. Can we wait to have this argument until after the product’s been on the market for a month or two, and people have actually used it?

    Anything until then is pure speculation. I only ever-so-rarely use my laptop, and am seriously considering an iPad as a replacement for it. I’m not sure it’ll “change computing as we know it,” though it looks like it might be a fun little internet appliance.

  39. Like Absinthe my main gripe is that any device that’s designed to browse the web should let me enjoy sites with Flash-based content if I want to. I do have to disagree with Cory’s overall premise that “closed system” equals “bad user experience” however. An iPad probably isn’t something that content creators are going to be lining up to get for all the reasons Cory mentioned, but that’s like saying an iPod is a poorly designed music player because it’s difficult to customize. (I know many people hate the iPod for the same reason but it’s hard to deny that the device is largely responsible for bringing the MP3 player mainstream.)

    95% of the consumers don’t care how their electronics work as long as they do what they’re supposed to. As long as there remain open source alternatives I don’t see why we should mind Steve Jobs or the slick little toys he peddles.

  40. Well, I don’t live in Topeka, but I am a consumer – and I suspect a more typical one than you. I don’t always want to create (although as content creator I do it all day long some times), I want to consume content from people more talented than me (most people probably).

    And no – the ipad won’t last forever. But the concept will, I suspect.

    The thing I love most about the iphone (the closest comparison you or I can make)? The democratisation of software development and FINALLY the realisation of the shareware model of software distribution, where low cost software makes money from mass and easy distribution. So long, expensive apps. I like that. I can live with the restrictions to get it too – I’m a realist. Plenty of free stuff there too – but that evil DRM stops this low cost software being pirated and distributed for free, and allows smaller developers to charge less, and make a living. Are you against that?

    And in this world, whether you like it or not, media is software. Your comic book swapping idea is commendable, and if it could be implemented via the iPad, I’d like to see it, but it’s not the same as visiting a store – a brick and mortor store with costs, costs to travel to it etc.

    You know – on balance, as far as software goes, I like where Apple is taking the world. There may be some stupid, arbitrary mistakes along the way, but that’s life.

  41. You’re committing to the same faulty logic a lot of other iPad commenters who don’t like the device do: You’re assuming most people – and this is the clue here: most people – use these kinds of devices like Matthew Broderick used his modem in War Games. To hack, to write code, to enter into an esoteric world of the unknown.

    Most people don’t. They don’t care, and they shouldn’t have to care. They don’t hack into their cars, they don’t hack into their Nokia cell phone to write assembly code, and they certainly don’t hack their very slow, very annoying PC.

    They just wan’t to use it. The whole jailbreaking scene is pretty much dead, I don’t know anyone with an iPhone these days who bothers to jailbreak it. Why? Because it didn’t turn out to be very useful, nor did it turn out to be very stable. Endless possibilities, perhaps, but if you have to put up with annoying, you quit.

    Oh, and I hope you are able to fix the motherboard of your ThinkPad if it dies. Anything else would be a total failure.

    The most annoying thing of all: pretending Apple actually controls ALL content in the entire world. Geezes. You have obviously found peace with Ubuntu and a ThinkPad. Great. You want everyone to use Ubuntu? Why? What on earth would my sister use Ubuntu for? My dad? My girlfriend? They. Don’t. Need. It. Not as in “they probably need it, they just don’t know it yet”, but as in “they really don’t need it”.

    Imagine that.

  42. You want to know what I think? I think Jef Raskin would’ve loved the iPad. Criticizing it before even trying one, lame… I understand Cory that it is the Apps Store infrastructure you are slamming more so than the device itself. So, fine. Don’t buy one. I hear you loud and clear but you are tilting at windmills.

  43. I completely agree with Cory.

    iPad is really nicely presented, and very slick and nicely done, but it’s’ basically an expensive toy. It isn’t a laptop, despite all the articles touting it as the “laptop killer”.

    You can’t create *anything* on it. You can’t really work as a graphic artist on it, or a 3D artist, or write code, or design something beautiful. All you can do is consume what Apple thinks you ought to see.

    And yes, that bothers me. I love Apple very much, but I think they have gone so far in terms of control that it is becoming dangerous to think of their vision of the future internet. An internet that they approve or disapprove of. An internet where you have to pay for every single thing and only under the strictest regulations.

    I really am bothered by Apple’s attitude since the last few years. It worries me a lot. I applaud them for their success, but I will start to boo them very loudly for the things that they have done because of it.

    1. “You can’t create *anything* on it. You can’t really work as a graphic artist on it, or a 3D artist, or write code, or design something beautiful. All you can do is consume what Apple thinks you ought to see.”

      Why do you believe that apps for coding or illustration or rendering won’t be available for the iPad?

      Or comics for that matter?

      1. Can’t create anything? That’s as idiotic a statement as I’ve ever seen. You might as well say you can’t create anything on a computer. It’s got a word processor for god’s sake – not to mention Sketchbook Pro etc.etc.etc.etc….

        Summer Seale – You want Apple’s products, but don’t want to accept they’re a profit making corporation. Grow up.

        Apple stands as a mass contradiction to all who declared a wall garden could not work for consumers – they want ease, not some vague notion of freedom.

        1. Why can’t people have both ease and freedom?

          Google is a fine example of a company that pursues both and does well by it. For many years, so was Palm.

    2. I bet The Omni Group would be amazed to hear that you can’t create anything on the iPad. I guess they’ll need to take OmniGraffle off the market. Same with the guy who wrote Brushes. And the iWork team at Apple, who’ll need to destroy all the code they wrote for the iPad versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.

      And all the teams building content creation apps that haven’t been announced yet. Man, life must suck for them right now.

    3. Until I try one out I won’t know whether I’ll buy it, but not being able to create with it won’t be the deciding factor. I can’t create anything with my refrigerator, but it’s one of the useful tools in my kitchen. I use different work stations all over campus in my work, and I use at least three computers at home, so I’m set with what I need to create. I want something light and slick to carry around and do lightweight tasks on, and yes, consume stuff with. I tend to agree with those here who have described the ipad as a tool, or an appliance, and who form their expectations for it based on that idea.

    4. It amazes me that people leap to conclusions like this. You can create plenty on an iPad. Apple has released iPad versions of their own office suite for the thing – Pages, Numbers and KeyNote. All three are extremely user friendly applications specifically for the creation of content. It’s FAR to early to say that other developers won’t create similar tools for other fields of creativity.

  44. “(less, if you decide not to pay to have the battery changed for you)”

    I understand this argument is more of a “free your stuff” kind of thing, but for the amount of crap apple takes about this single issue, I don’t think I’ve heard about anyone having issues with those batteries dying. I hear quite a few stories about original 5GB ipods STILL running and being able to be charged.

  45. 1) The costs of hardware hacking have been increasing and standardisation makes it less appealing. Software hacking is now more prominent. Software tends to be easier to interfere with. Thus, the iPad can be hacked. Apple can not completely wall off access to the OS.

    2) I agree with your sentiments regarding sharing. I would be interested to know your solution to this problem.

    3) The App store is successful because it is valued by developers and consumers. Is the walled garden approach as problematic as you state? I tend to think that a walled garden is one solution to the problem of a disruptive product. A business that has a disruptive product will tend not to have the supporting product infrastructure to encourage adoption. Such a business has three choices: build it, partner, or wait. Apple built it. This does have the effect of limiting consumer choice but, does not mean the weakening of market competition. Apple can only maintain the walls to the extent to which competing offerings are seen to offer inferior value.

    4) I disagree with the association of the iPad and by default the iPhone as products that kill imagination, creativity and innovation. If anything, these products are being used by consumers in situations and ways not imagined by Apple. These products are acting as enablers of the very thing that you believe they will destroy.

    5) Finally, closed and open systems can coexist. It seems to me, that you have a naive dislike for closed systems. It is akin to the debate between markets and organisations. Where markets work then, use markets. Where organisations work then, use organisations. Where a something in between works then, use it!

  46. Steve Jobs argued fervently against expansion ports in the Apple ][. The early Macs had none. Nor could one upgrade the RAM. This is who we’re dealing with at Apple.

  47. I don’t mind the idea of computer appliances as much as I used to. I get frustrated nowadays, instead of energized, when the system itself becomes the focus of creativity. I really just want to use it as a tool for other things; I want the machine itself to be a solved technical problem.

    I can see that this utility may be negatively affected by the toolmaker getting too much market power, especially tethered to the appstore and DRM. That’s why I’m looking forward to an AndroidPad for christmas!

    1. One of the most exciting things about the iPad, for me, is that like most Apple stuff, it’s chock full of surprising, smart ideas for everyone else to riff off of. It’s inevitably going to be copied by everyone, and yeah, I’m fascinated to see what everyone does with the idea. Let’s see an “open, hackable” pad computer with multi-touch. Let’s see an Android pad with a USB port. I can’t wait to see what people create now that they’ve got the iPad to copy.

  48. “The fact that if you bought them somewhere else, you would get them is irrelevant to the person who bought the comics in the iStore.”

    Again, nobody is forcing anybody to buy the through the iStore. The world is free to continue buying comics in the same way they always have. Nothing has changed there; no rights are being trampled by the Misney stormtroopers. If you want to try this new thing, hey, you’re free to do that too, but the rules are a little different.

    “Yes. It is a review of the terms of service, business practices, and legal and technical systems underpinning the device. You can’t hold them in your hands, but you can read them and follow them, and I have.”

    By that logic, I could review new-release movies by staying home and reading the Blu-ray EULA. Calling this an iPad review really diminishes the credibility of the (several very good) points you’re making.

    1. Again, nobody is forcing anybody to buy the through the iStore.

      Well, that’s the point of Cory’s article, isn’t it? He’s refusing to buy through the iStore, and blogs about why he’s doing so.

      1. “Well, that’s the point of Cory’s article, isn’t it? He’s refusing to buy through the iStore, and blogs about why he’s doing so.”

        He’s probably not buying anything from *lots* of places today. Where are all the posts regarding all the other things he won’t be buying? Why single out the iPad? Why all the hate for a product that wasn’t targeted at him in the first place?

        1. “Well, that’s the point of Cory’s article, isn’t it? He’s refusing to buy through the iStore, and blogs about why he’s doing so.”

          He’s probably not buying anything from *lots* of places today. Where are all the posts regarding all the other things he won’t be buying? Why single out the iPad?

          Perhaps because he considered it, then rejected it for serious but not immediately obvious reasons? Perhaps he’s gone to the trouble of investigating it in detail, and it’s only polite to blog about it, so that others can benefit from the work he’s already done? Perhaps he feels that it’s an attractive nuisance, luring people who really ought to know better? Perhaps he’d like to help shape the world for his daughter, so that it’s the best possible world?

          There are many possible reasons, but I don’t see “hate” anywhere in there.

  49. I’m a die-hard maker, and I like the iPad a great deal. I’m not at all put off by Cory’s perception (perception, mind you) that it’s closed. It’s a tool, and one that I can do a great deal with. It’s a multitool, in fact, able to do *many* things with the switch of an app, and it will continue to gain new functionality over time as the next great and wonderful app is released by — wait for it — another maker-type like me, toiling away in his workshop to realize a brilliant idea for something nobody had really thought of before. And that maker can sell his new and wonderful application to me and actually make some money on it without being a giant corporation or having to negotiate a complex distribution deal or having to put a bunch of money into it up-front.

    Seriously, what’s wrong with that?

  50. this is just flamebait. won’t read it. nobody expected you were going to buy one anyway.

  51. This article reminds me a little of the new government created in “When Sysadmin Ruled the Earth.”

  52. HTML5 apps have access to multitouch, device rotation and geolocation (if the user opts-in). They may store data remotely, but have access to local database storage that the user can delete at any time.

    The only common sensor they don’t have access to is a camera (which isn’t on an iPad anyway).

  53. I ordered an iPad for my 70+ year old father. He has been surfing the web on a Dell/WinXP laptop for a number of years now and the sheer frustration he exhibits using Windows, with the attendant problems, makes this purchase a no-brainer.

    I agree with bulk of Cory’s points above. However, for that 95% of the population who are not makers or hackers a locked down machine that will performs the bulk of the functions of a laptop, the applications that my father uses e.g email, web surfing and viewing photos. Apple will sell a gazillion iPads for this reason.

    On the other hand, my young children have (relatively) accessible hardware such as a PC and a Mac desktop. When they are a little older, I will introduce them to Linux. And the Apple IIe that is still in our the basement somewhere.

  54. I am undecided on the iPad as yet. Yet, I have to take issue with two of your statements.

    The lesser of the two is that in *every* comic shop around here, the “back issue” selection is limited at best, and it’s because they can’t sell them. Maybe it’s a regional thing, but I’m not sure the market is as robust as you seem to imply above.

    The second, however, regards the iPad. I work on and with computers for a living. Have done so since 1989. Folks like you and me, we like to tinker.

    And we are in the MINORITY.

    Most people don’t *care* how it works. They don’t care about “Screws versus glue”. They just want it to turn on and *work*. And like them or not, Apple *excels* at this. This is not, nor has it ever been, a product aimed at the tech-head market. It is for the rest of the world, who do not care about Open source, the EFF, and the rest of it.

    At the end of your article, you enumerate 3 groups who the iPad “isn’t for”. And while all may be true, the truth is that combined, that probably doesn’t comprise 20% of the consumer market. And because it’s not for you, this doesn’t mean that it’s not “for” everyone else.

    As for me, I’ll have to test one out to see if it will do the things *I* want it to do.

  55. did anyone see Xeni on KNBC this morning? my goodness, it is not news, but one big advertisement for everyone to go out and buy this product. Anouncing a product release is one thing, but having the news anchors telling everyone they should buy the product is another. And everyone thinks MSFT is evil.

  56. Simplification does not equal disdain for the user. That’s like a doctor saying, “I respect you too much to help you with this illness. Here, read these wikis and forums and figure it out for yourself. You might die, but if you don’t you’ll be better for it.”

    We can argue all day about the merits of Apple’s closed App Store and its strange inter-workings, but the fact remains, that without it there are a lot of small shop developers who are now making a living from something that they developed to work inside that “walled garden” you despise so much. Could they have done that releasing their work as free and open source? Can they feed their families with good intentions and principles?

    1. “We can argue all day about the merits of Apple’s closed App Store and its strange inter-workings, but the fact remains, that without it there are a lot of small shop developers who are now making a living from something that they developed to work inside that “walled garden” you despise so much. Could they have done that releasing their work as free and open source? Can they feed their families with good intentions and principles?”

      Couldn’t these “small shop developers” be booted out of the App Store tomorrow with no explanation or reason from Apple?

      Is this fair?

      1. No, but its no more or less fair than a couple of parties inside of an OS project telling the rest of the community the direction the project is going to take. (aka “This is not a democracy.” – Shutteworth)

        As a human I tend try and classify things as good or bad. I would assume that’s what Cory is doing as well. It makes dealing with issues simpler. However, I think we need to remember that most of the alternative mobile devices and mobile device OSs came about out of direct competition to the iPhone. Hopefully now there will be competitors to the iPad as well.

        1. Re: Shuttleworth and the Ubuntu window UI controls;

          To be fair he wasn’t cutting anyone off from their livelihood.

          I can sympathise with his position. Sometimes there’s too much noise in a community to be able to move in a new direction – I think he should be given the benefit of the doubt.

          Re: Apple & Competition;

          Well, maybe Apple should be forced to allow alternative competing ‘App Stores’ for their platforms?

          Perhaps the DoJ should eventually become involved?

          1. Neither is Apple. They’re just saying, “play by our rules. This isn’t a democracy.” If you or I had developed the iPhone and wanted it to be a success, we would do the same things.

            On a side note, it would be awesome if I could dual boot Ubuntu NR on my iPad.

          2. The difference is, Apple _IS_ potentially cutting off someone’s livelihood when they state “play by our rules. This isn’t a democracy”.

            We need the law to catch up, and be put in place to moderate the actions of corporations operating online.

            At the moment corporations are calling the shots.

            Think of all the IP lobbying going on at the moment. I find it terrifying that ‘three strikes out’ digital IP laws are currently being pushed through simultaneously in so many countries. If that isn’t an example of the orchestrated might of corporate lobbyists, I have no idea what is!?

            At the moment, laws are being put into place to moderate our behaviour – and protect the rights of corporations. It should be the other way round.

            Capitalism only works well, when it’s reigned in. Without moderation – we end up with giant clusterfcks like the current economic recession / depression.

            As the for dualboot – I’d love that .. the more I use linux, the more enthused I become. I don’t think I’d be protesting about any of these issues without exposure to FOSS.

          3. Lukas, there is no such thing as a free market. That’s a foolish idea promulgated by foolish people. There are only markets controlled by customers and markets controlled by government. For some reason the same foolish people who think there are free markets (and don’t like them) think that markets should be controlled by government, not customers.

          4. I’m stating that markets _shouldn’t_ be totally free.

            I’m saying that when corporations are allowed ‘free’ reign, things go wrong.

            Governments are hopefully set up to look after the interests of the public at large. Laws are hopefully put in place to help ensure that society functions in a way that is agreeable to the public at large.

          5. The problem is that when you regulate corporations, you make it profitable to corrupt politicians instead of pleasing customers. Poor Lessig thinks he can have uncorrupted politicians AND regulated corporations. Larry has been observed trying to push 1000′ long strings across the Stanford campus, with an equal lack of success.

            The only way to please customers is … to please customers. That’s why *I* want my markets controlled by customers.

          6. In an ideal world I’d love a market controlled by customers – but corporations have been allowed to grow to such an enormous size, customers don’t actually have much influence.

            I strongly believe we need laws which limit the actions of corporations.

            Maybe laws which make lobbying more difficult would be a start?

  57. I don’t care who does or doesn’t want to buy an iPad. I figure people are generally smart enough to make up their own minds.

    I found offensive is the stance it takes regarding creators and consumers. I’m not a creator. I cannot write very well, I am all thumbs with tools, I have trouble hanging a picture, i cannot pain or draw (However, I am fortunate enough to be married to a wonderful woman who is an artist). So I am a consumer. I love to read, look at art if different forms, love museums, galleries, and cinemas. They provoke me, fulfill me, and add joy to my life.

    Apparently though, according to Cory – albetit through a quote – I am some beast in Topeka that has less worth than anyone who is gifted enough or determined enough to be a creator. I guess some people are more equal than others in Cory’s world

    Thanks Cory for belittling my existence.

  58. I think you have your perspective wrong. The iPad doesn’t address the “I think $COMPUTER is too complicated for my Mom” crowd, it addresses the “My mom thinks $COMPUTER is too complicated.” There’s a huge difference. Geeks are looking at the iPad and scoffing; Mom is looking at the iPad and thinking “Finally, a computer I might be able to use.”

    I’m of two opinions. Part of me agrees with you. Apple should open their iPad up to hacking. But the other part of me realizes that to do that, they would need to make tradeoffs that they’re not willing to make, and which I think they have compelling reasons for, if not reasons I entirely agree with.

    “Screws not glue” and “user replaceable parts” gets you a certain type of machine, but it’s exactly the wrong kind of machine for people who don’t want to deal with computer ephemera. There are plenty of tablet machines out there that *do* offer this, and you’re free to buy (and recommend) them instead.

    However, the “Mom” crowd is starting to be a significant force in the computer market in their own right. Previously we, the geeks, have enjoyed our status as the recommenders, or even gatekeepers, telling people what computers they should and shouldn’t buy based on our own biases. Now the “Mom” crowd looks at the iPad (or even its predecessors, the iPod & iPhone) and see something which yes, may not have all the features in a side-by-side comparison (who really knows what all those acronymns mean, anyway!), but which they can largely figure out why, and how, it works on their own without constantly calling us for help.

    And, unfortunately, as long as the DRM doesn’t get in the way of this, they’re not going to care two whits. As a previous poster alluded, even such sacrosanct institutions as comic book trading will have to adapt or die.

    Welcome to the messy side of the digital revolution. It’s not all flowers and bunnies. It’s social institutions, some most beloved, being turned on their ear and forced to change.

    As for all the hewing and moaning about “social interaction” and “digital isolation,” those have been floated since the dawn of the Internet. I still have yet to see empty streets and people who don’t naturally long for social interaction. Computers will always have to accommodate and facilitate that fundamental human desire, in just the same way that they “have” to be designed to be used humans, with our hands, our eyes and our ears. Anything that doesn’t do this will be relegated to the dustbin of history.

  59. very good article. it just misses an important point: webapps are the future. have you seen the quake html5-demo? you can programm what you want – the web is still free. everyone can use your apps: windows, mac, iphone, android…

  60. I dunno, Xeni Jardin seems to like it.

    By which I mean, she seems to like it and like using it. You know, because she likes how it works and what it can do. I’m just picking her as one familiar and trusted example of a person who’s saying, “the things this thing can do are things I want done.”

    Since Cory’s responding to some comments here (much appreciated), let me just ask–is buying an iPad (or an iAnything, really) just a poor consumer choice, relative to costs and specs and megahertz and pixels and such?

    Or is it a bad moral choice, as in wrong-no-matter-what? Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand saying, “nah, I don’t want to get tangled up in Sony/Microsoft/Amazon/Apple’s stupid proprietary whatever, so I’ll choose something else.” But then you start talking about the kind of world your daughter grows up in and I start to wonder if what you’re really saying is that buying an iPad is an evil act, one that not only shuts me out of the “creative universe” and the “fair world” but helps deny them to our children and our children’s children.

    1. Or is it a bad moral choice, as in wrong-no-matter-what? … you start talking about the kind of world your daughter grows up in and I start to wonder if what you’re really saying is that buying an iPad is an evil act, one that not only shuts me out of the “creative universe” and the “fair world” but helps deny them to our children and our children’s children.

      I’m not Cory, but as far as moral choice is concerned, there are a couple of aspects. Firstly, as the saying goes, you’re voting with your wallet. If you pay Apple for this (rather than someone else for something open), your dollars support Apple in particular and these kinds of business models in general.

      Secondly, most technology has a “network effect”; it’s more useful the more people have it. Sometimes directly, as with a phone, almost always indirectly — you’ll be learning about iStore apps, so when someone has a problem to solve, that’s what you’ll suggest because that’s what you’ll know. If you’d learned instead about apps from someone else, you’d recommend those. If someone needs help with their device, it’s easier if others around them have the same. You’ll be implicitly encouraging your friends to follow you in shutting themselves out of the “creative universe” and the “fair world” (as you put it). You’ll be encouraging developers to develop for it, your local stores to carry it, after-market manufacturers to target it,

      You’ll be making it ever-so-slightly more normal for people to be shut out of the “creative universe” and the “fair world”, ever-so-slightly less normal for people to participate in both.

      So yes, there is a moral dimension. Not perhaps a big one, but it’s there.

      (BTW, a third aspect that you don’t mention is a pragmatic but non-technical one: what incentives does the system set up for the various parties to treat you right or wrong? Does the iStore work for you, for the developers, or for Apple? If it works for Apple, how will that affect you and/or the developers? Does the iStore sell apps to users, or does it sell eyeballs to advertisers?)

  61. I don’t understand this world in which you live in which the fact that the ipad is a “closed” device means that the world is going to suddenly become a closed wall with no options for people who want to tinker. It seems to me that tons of innovation is happening on the app store, and tons of innovation is happening outside of it aswell. . The spectrum of “open vs. closed” devices is incredible diverse and nothing is perfectly “open” or “closed.” We can have the best of both worlds: many open systems with some partial “walled gardens” here and there (or hybrid systems combining both). The marvel comics app may be a stinker compared to reading a real comic because of its restrictions, in which case no-one will buy it, but maybe people will love reading original 60’s comics in fully restored fashion, i dunno i don’t read comics. Some times open systems give rise to great products, some times great products are closed systems, and the market has room for both of those flavours. its hard to see linus torvalds ever producing the ipad just as its hard to see steve jobs ever creating wikipedia, but use either an ipad or wikipedia for a few minutes and you have to admit they are both spectacular achievments. If the ipad becomes too restrictive then competing open products will start to overtake it, if it keeps its huge lead in terms of being more innovative open and exciting in reality, then they won’t, neither is “better” and neither is going to harm tinkering or innovation.

  62. I think those moms matter, though, Cory. I’ll accept a certain amount of tinkering to keep my computers and devices running just the way I like them, but for someone like my folks, that would be way too much. They’re both creative people in their own right, but don’t see computers and gadgets in that way– for them, the gadgets are just tools that need to do what they’re supposed to do. That’s different from my experience, but certainly not incorrect. So why not be excited about the iPad for those reasons? It’s seemingly going to be a user-friendly web machine for people like that, and provide an intuitive, predictable interface. Even installing new features is tremendously simplified. I’m thinking… this is probably a really GOOD thing. It’s like an evolutionary split in computing, where my side of things (tinkering, getting into the guts of the machine, designing things, etc) goes one way; and the slick interface, basic-use web machines go the other.

  63. nice perspective.but i think ipad will change the world of computing, just like iphone changed the world.we should just wait for it to happen then. :-)

  64. iPod, iPhone and now iPad are pretty devices acting as a conduit to the various stores. Apple does not care about freedom, choice or standards. Their success is defined by the number of apps they sell and by the number of clueless people that buy their overpriced toys.

  65. Is it too late to nuke Cupertino from orbit?

    Just sayin.

    More seriously, I’m glad to see some balance at the editorial level. I can understand apple fangirl, but… I kind of wish I couldn’t.

    Let me try and get this right one more time, I think I’m really struggling with some cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, in this community we extol and to an extent participate in maker culture, the maker ethos, the new urban independence if you will. On the other hand, apple releases another new themepark device, where the community only has the life its allowed by apple, where there is no right to create or develop, and so many people just go… “oooh shiny”.

    Ps. Apple / Disney merger anyone? Think of the DRM and Copyright lobbying.

  66. Cory, I fully understand where you’re coming from and agree that it is a pity quite how locked down some of the content appears to be. I’m particularly suprised that an e-book bought for the iPad can’t be transferred to your iPhone or Mac – can’t see that one standing for long.

    But I think you over-state the dumbing-down and journalism aspect substantially. For a non-trained geek I am pretty techie. I became sufficiently annoyed with the impression Windows gave that I was really only renting time on someone else’ computer that I made the switch to Linux. Absolutely loved it, learned loads about it but spent so much time fixing it and trying to get products like MP3 players working that my productivity went through the floor. Yes I felt like everything on it belonged to me but I was spending time attempting to become a Unix expert to enable me to get my real work done. As soon as I moved to Mac’s my productivity shot through the roof because there’s only one source for all the OS & hardware updates and all I have to do is click and wait.

    With regards to journalism I struggle to really see where the bad is. Rather than using chemicals and electricity to pulp & print on paper and diesel to distribute it I can buy, retain and discard newspapers, magazines and yes even books (with the above caveat) direct from the cloud. I find that pretty exciting.

    Philosophically I fully agree with the open-source ethos but I find even as a enthusiastic amateur it’s just too much of a time sink. Poisoning the well of your argument with incredibly evocative descriptions of a slack-jawed consume may well be effective rhetoric but I’m not convinced that it helps present a coherent and well rounded argument. The iPad could be a great way to access content and minimize the effect on the environment, and yes help to make that content profitable. But I fear you will get your wish, at least in the short term. The UK prices have not been released as yet but if they’re $=£ as usual then the device will be hysterically over-priced for the niche it fills, as is the Kindle and Sony ebook readers (the latter at ANY price). The only way I could conceive of purchasing one is if it were heavily subsidised as part of a subscription deal with a newspaper… hint hint …

  67. “Gadgets come and gadgets go. The iPad you buy today will be e-waste in a year or two (less, if you decide not to pay to have the battery changed for you).”

    I must also join in the chorus of “no criticism without experience” on this one. If you want to believe that the iPod battery will die in less than a year, I can’t stop you. But to list your *opinion* as a reason not to purchase a product is disingenuous at best.

    My 5th-gen iPod battery is still kicking, four(?) years after I got it. (I’ve handed it off to my daughter since I upgraded to an iPod Touch.) My co-worker has a first-gen iPod that he still uses daily. Granted, the battery is totally hosed, as you’d expect from hardware of that vintage, but it still runs just fine when plugged into a machine for power. It’s only “e-waste” when you can’t use it anymore.

    Also, third party iPod battery upgrades were made available shortly after the iPod was released. Anyone with half a brain and five minutes to spare can open an iPod and replace the battery themselves. There is no reason to think the same will not happen with the iPad. There’s no reason for a battery to be “changed for you”… any more than there’s no reason for the oil in your car to be “changed for you”.

    1. I’m sick of hearing this “You can change your iPod battery! Nyeah!” argument. You know what? You really can’t. I trashed a perfectly good 5th Gen iPod Video I bought because I snapped a pin on the logic board battery connector when I was doing the upgrade.

      First I bough a $5 battery that didn’t work or last from a non-name eBay seller. Then bought a $19.95 battery that didn’t work either and returned it for a full refund. Then I scored some parts from another dead iPod, and that’s when the pin snapped?

      Am I perfect? No. But I am a tech and have fixed things since I was a kid. Not great at soldering, but can get the job done. And in this case, Apple did not design the $%@!# thing to be user replaceable. Every other electronics device in the world has user changeable batteries, why not Apple?

      And guess what? I replaced said iPod with an “iPod Classic” but you know what you can’t do on this? Easily change the battery because Apple has made sure these “Classic” iPods really can’t be opened without really denting and damaging the case.

      Now if you want me to explain how for the average user changing the battery in an iPod shuffle will 100% never happen (tiny parts, solder to the board) then there you go.

      But please, don’t ever defend Apple for the bassackwards way they deal with batteries in their products. It’s complete built in obsolesce and as much as I like Apple products they really are as bad as Microsoft in this case.

      1. You gotta be pretty clumsy to break it. I’ve done 2 ipod battery replacement and it was really easy – and I’m not that good with my hands either.

  68. “You can’t create *anything* on it. You can’t really work as a graphic artist on it, or a 3D artist, or write code, or design something beautiful. All you can do is consume what Apple thinks you ought to see.”

    Wasn’t a large part of the iPad’s announcement taken up with a demonstration of the iPad-native version of Brushes, a drawing/illustration application whose iPhone version has been used to create New Yorker cover illustrations?

    1. Exactly what I said, but you managed it without the withering sarcasm, for which I must salute you.

  69. The tinkerers’ goal is to hack the tools to understand and improve them — and the themselves and the world. I deeply respect tinkerers, but for many entrepreneurial knowledge organizers and producers, the proprietary nature of tools is irrelevant.

    Personally, I rarely hack tools — eyeglasses, pens, notepads, screwdrivers, shovels, backpacks, cast iron pans, cars, books, spreadsheets or programming languages, computer hardware. My energy is focused on using tools, not altering them.

  70. Cory, I think it’s worth noting that you keep referencing Marvel Comics. You must realize that kids don’t read them anymore? (And I say this as an avid collector in my adolescence)

    And if they don’t read them, then they surely don’t share them , so they have no idea what you are talking about.

    What do they do together? Play video games on the interwebs. That’s replaced reading comics on the porch and sharing them with friends.

    This is NOT simply a device, it’s a whole new medium, somewhere between traditional print and a rich media website. It will spark the creation of a new set of creative workers.

    And yes, maybe they will make ‘comics’, but probably not as we remembered them.

  71. *My* mom was in computing before the release of the Apple I.

    The only people I know who are interested in it are the type of gadget-freak geeks with disposable income who like shiny things more than actual functionality. I’ll stick with my more capable $200 netbook, thanks.

  72. Ok, it drives me bonker how irrational the hating on this device is – as if it is some unprecedented attack on your personal freedom. As if a closed platform created for the sake of user experience is an unheard of concept – Hello? Game Consoles? Does ANYONE complain that Nintendo is crushing their free spirit by requiring approval of all games for the Wii? Oh and guess what, the iPad is just a portable Wii for webbrowsing. It is a device that guarantees a good UX for the most common things people do: light web browsing, pictures, and utility computing.

    And honestly, that’s a good thing. Suggesting that the “Alternative” is a Lenovo Thinkpad running Ubuntu is so beyond ridiculous it doesn’t even merit discussion.

    The reason the iPad is so appealing to non-dorks is the same reason that the console gaming has crushed PC gaming as the dominant medium.

    You buy an XBOX, you buy a game, and it is GUARANTEED to run perfectly. No video drivers, nothing. And the system does the most common things you want to do: play games, watch movies, and even browse the internet.

    The iPad is no different. If you want a computer, buy a computer. But it’s not a computer – it’s a portable terminal for doing the stuff MOST people do on a daily basis with a guaranteed performance that won’t degrade.

    And as a developer, this makes PERFECT sense to me, it shocks me that people who are supposedly technically aware can’t see this.

  73. I totally agree Cory, thanks for writing this, I’m afraid too many people get wowed by the Apple PR machine.

    Are tech people really afraid to become serious journalists? What gives? I wonder…

    You also made me think, are printed papers / magazines more likely to praise the iPad then online reviews ?

    Sites like gizmodo/engadget seems to have a paid contract to rent about this or be utterly clueless and just want to cash in on the press bandwagon, I don’t know…
    In any case, the battle for a good public discussion/education needs more time / space badly!

    cheers from MTL!

  74. Nice article, Cory, but I can’t help thinking that it sounds a bit old fashioned. As devices become more specialized for mobile use, the ability of users to get into the machine to tinker is going to drop. That’s at some level just as a physical reality. The “system on a chip” means most of the interesting bits of logic (sound card, video) are all bound in at a size well below anything you can take a wrench or screwdriver or even soldering gun to.

    That said, there’s definitely always been a secondary market for screen replacements, battery replacements, and other little things that can go wrong with these devices (iPod, iPhone, Zune, MacBooks, etc…). Ultimately, you can do whatever you want to the hardware but can’t cry to the manufacturer if you royally screw it up. If it came with glue, you may just have to really tinker (i.e., drill!) to get the case closed again!

    As far as software, I do agree that Apple is heading down a path that favors old-skool content producers and shitty DRM. However, instead of viewing it so cynically, I think the ultimate, long-range view of these things is positive. Cheaper hardware that is bound into highly compelling packages that are getting easier for everyone to use on a daily basis _without_ having to be a “tinkerer”/engineer/geek/etc. These are good things in the long run for society/culture even if the first version to hit the market ends up being awkward and limited in other ways.

    If it is really right that the masses want freedom to share, the marketplace of ideas will win out in the long run. When some company makes something better that is open access my guess is that the freedom will lead to innovation that the other company can’t beat. It’ll just take a little bit for the open world to catch up to some of the technology that Apple has invested in developing in-house (gesture recognition, etc…).

    As far as sharing, personally I don’t find it such a big deal. I hate when people borrow my books/cd’s and don’t return them. I also more or less hate having books at all since it’s just clutter in my house/life. And I am a avid reader/academic. A ecologically friendly future where I can experience all/most of the goodness of a color printed book or research article digitally and never loose it to forgetful friends/colleagues is fine with me. Perhaps just personal preference.

  75. “Infantalizing hardware”!

    Thanks for putting into words everything that is so troubling with the appeal of Apple products.

    I think you uncovered a deeper possibility in the same section: the ethos of the 70s and 80s that made the personal computer industry of today is well and truly dead! The iPad is the last nail in a big coffin.

    …So, after the state funeral, what comes next?

  76. This reads like something I might have written about 15 years ago, as a college kid practically living in my computer. I’m not that kid anymore. I’m thirty something, married, with kids.

    The list of things I have the time and desire to crack open, alter, fix, and futz around with has gotten smaller and smaller. And they tend to be things that are really central to my life. Now maybe I’ve lost touch with my ‘inner geek’ or whatever, but my computers, and especially the sort of quasi-computer-like things I own (or will own in the case of the iPad) don’t play that central role in my life anymore.

    I’m about as concerned about the things you’ve brought up about the iPad as I am about whether I can hack my alarm clock.

    1. The list of things I have the time and desire to crack open, alter, fix, and futz around with has gotten smaller and smaller. … I’m about as concerned about the things you’ve brought up about the iPad as I am about whether I can hack my alarm clock.

      Remember, it’s not just about whether you can crack things open yourself — it’s also about whether you can pay someone else to do so. When you need your car fixed, you probably don’t do that yourself, but there’s a free market for doing that and competition (usually) leads to reasonably good service for a decent price. You wouldn’t want to be in a situation where only the manufacturer’s service arm can repair your car.

    2. Brillo, thanks for writing what immediately came to mind.

      “Mom” isn’t too stupid and enfeebled to use a “real” computer. “Mom” has better things to do (like nurture new humans) than rooting her NexusOne.

      Complicated, open computers will always be around, and be cherished and used by those with the luxury of time and mental bandwidth to do so. But please- let “Mom” catch a break, too.

    3. I don’t want to hack the alarm clock either. Or my toaster.

      iPad looks like it might work for my 78 year old mom. There are very good reasons for simplicity – ease of use is great.

      I understand why hackers wouldn’t like iPad. But Hackers aren’t the majority.

  77. http://www.littlegreenriver.com/2010/04/02/why-i-wont-buy-an-ipad-but-i-dont-really-care-whether-or-not-you-do/

    The reasons Cory lists are all reasonable reasons to not buy an iPad. Like Cory, I don’t need a computer-like appliance. That’s also why I don’t own an iPhone or a Wii or a Kindle. (Also, I’m poor.)

    But just because *I* don’t need it doesn’t mean that I think it’s ethically dubious for someone else to. Yes, you’re opting into Apple’s walled garden. Yes, you’ll never be able to hack the device or install your own stuff on it or replace the battery yourself. But if you’re fine with all that, if your needs match what the iPad appliance offers, go ahead and purchase one. Especially if you already own a “real computer” (which is pretty likely, and something a lot of criticisms along these lines seem to miss). No one argues that purchasing a car with closed-source software embedded in it or a stylish, no-screws toaster is akin to investing in blood diamonds.

    So why all the hate on the iPad? My guess is misplaced expectations. Critics expect a “real computer” and howl that it isn’t one. That’s frankly like whining about how the Eee PC sucks for running Photoshop. Those who want it and will buy it have different expectations.

  78. All valid points, but consider this:

    Since the iPhone’s release, everyone I know is trying to get their little slice of the app pie. Everyone, from the suits at work, to your personal trainer has some idea for the next-killer app. More importantly, many of my friends who in the past have had absolutely zero interest in programming are stocking up on C and Cocoa books.

    So while Apple’s restrictive business model isn’t ideal for computing in general, it’s definitely had its positive side-effects.

    More and more everyday people are now aware of the fact that they CAN make stuff.

    On a more hypocritical note, I totally lent my copy of Little Brother to my kid sister ;)

  79. frogfrost (#92) has hit the nail on the head. The world has been filled with proprietary systems for a long time. Cory, take a big deep breath, vote with your wallet and move on. There are a jillion things in this world which are worse than Apple and their iPad.
    I’m talking to you, Monsanto!

  80. I agree with nine tenths of Cory’s arguments here, except that I think that the app store has been on balance a massive win for experimentalist amateurs.

    Yes, it’s bad that one company becomes the gatekeeper to which apps are allowed or not. It does limit innovation in certain dimensions.

    The upside is that you can make a living as a sole developer building small apps which sell to a niche market. That hasn’t really been true since the end of the shareware era. And we’re getting a whole lot of really interesting apps from the app store, which would never have had any press or sales on the open internet.

    One of the issues with the openness of the computer market in general is that with three major operating systems, and countless trillions of different computer configurations, a sole developer cannot hope to support a commercial software project. Anything you code is bound to fail to work on 5% of the machines you deliver it to. A closed platform doesn’t have that problem.

    Anyway, I acknowledge all the problems with the app store, but let’s count the beneficial aspects as well as the problematic ones. I think the benefits win out in this case.

  81. I understand about not being able to hack the hardware, but really. How many people hack even their open computers? At some point, there is a reasonable tradeoff between complexity and ease-of-use, and for the overwhelming majority of people, their wants fall squarely on the ease-of-use side. While I fully support and encourage your decision not to buy an iPad, the whole “and I don’t think you should either” strikes me as overreaching. Maybe I *want* a simple tool that lets me focus on the job I want to do instead of the tool itself. That’s not the hacker/maker ethos, and it doesn’t apply to other areas in my life, but I didn’t realize being a maker and reading Boing Boing meant I’d joined a cult, where every single thing I do has to support openness and hackability even at the expense of utility.

    Here’s the other thing: the iPad is arriving about 10 years after tablet computers were first viable. In all that time noone has developed and produced a hackable hardware/software ecosystem like the iPhone/iPad. Why not? And if why not already, then why not now? You personally must be uniquely suited to create such a thing: living at the intersection of design, electronics hacking, open source and publishing. So please, create something better than the iPad that’s fully open. Even just a whitepaper describing in detail the soft and hard of such a device. Or hell, just focus on the comics – sign up for the dev program, download the software, and create an app that allows sharing of comics and graphic novels. Or just create a store that allows for it – the e-reader on the iPad will handle non-DRM ePubs. Don’t just complain – fix it!

    I think you might find that it’s a tad harder than it looks, and you would have the advantage of not needing to focus on the monetary bottom line.

    And while the hardware isn’t hackable, the software certainly is. I haven’t bought and iPad, but I have joined the iPhone dev program (cost $100/year, or a little more than my subscriptions to Make and Craft), downloaded the Dev tools along with the open-source PhoneGap template, and have started working with my kids how to make their own native iPhone apps.

    Try telling my kids they’re not Makers, and get ready for a fight. This seems one of those glass-half-empty things.

  82. Cory, do you think your precious Nexus One (which is an excellent phone, BTW) would exist if not for the iPhone spurring innovation? Don’t hate on Apple. They may not be your thing, but if their products’ flaws are important, someone will come along and make a product that has all the XXXX’s good qualities but none of its bad ones.

  83. I’ll stick with books for now (enough to read for many lifetimes) and type my old laptop into the dust. Buy a earthbox or water purifier or swiss knife if you want to satisfy your spending itch.

  84. Cory I agree with every point you make and as an Apple user for 18 years now I am actively looking to replace my monoculture of computers with a more diverse mixture – starting with my work computer who now also runs a linux flavor BUT:

    If it wouldn´t be for the multitouch and the capability that it can be used as a universal midi/osc controller I could care less about the device myself – but that is the killer app – as the price is well in synch with traditional midi controllers which are much much more limited. I don´t know how many electronic musicians or visual artists or such you know but everybody I know has ones in their live dreamed up their own personal perfect midi controller just to find out its really expensive and time consuming to build and then just threw out 1000 bucks or more and bought “the next best” option (and a selfbuild one comes close to that price so you aint even saving). Now the iPad allows you to basically create your own midi controller and it has feedback as well so for that application alone the iPad will be bought in droves (and thats creation not consumption I am talking about here).

    And then there are my grandparents. I could never ever convince them to buy a “proper” computer. I tried everything – they were horrified to use a mouse or even a trackpad or anything like that – now they have come to me and ask me if the iPad is a good buy because they can totally see how interacting with the screen with their fingers is really easy. What do I tell them? No you shouldn´t buy the device because you can´t open it up? Or am I actually happy that they have a computer and access to the internet and stop watching soap operas?!

    Of course it would be nice if there would be an open source alternative that is as powerful and has an interface thats as easy to use – but there is none and there will be none for the foreseeable future. Its a hard pill to swallow (and i didn´t swallow the iphone pill because thats something that can be avoided easily ) but the device has its merit even with the stupid new apple that is driven by shareholder fuckshit values. I really wish they could look at their past and see that this is their path to doom sooner or later until then and until there are alternatives I might need to buy two of them – one for performing on one for my grannies. :/ but I am sure to wait a bit longer because the last thing anybody wants to do is buy a 1.0 product from apple. And of course I will be first in line if there is an unlock available – hack it to the bones.

  85. I appreciate what you’re saying about how devices like the iPad discourage modification, and how Apple is grabbing power away from the people. I’m with you on the DRM issue, but I see it differently on the “maker” side of things. People who are not “makers” need devices too – and they don’t need to be able to crack them open. The percentage of even self-professed “makers” who could successfully modify (in a meaningful way) the microelectronics in something like an iPad is small, and diminishes as microelectronics gets smaller and smaller. The tools needed to perform modifications get more and more specialized and expensive. The days of going down to Radio Shack and buying a soldering iron, a breadboard, and a few components and banging together something cool are not over – but if you want to modify something, you’re going to have to buy something bigger than an iPad. That’s not a malevolent force at work in the world, that’s progress.

    Even while I agree that it’s getting harder to modify hardware, I still believe that some people will do it. I recall my dad ranting about computer controlled ignition, electronic pollution sensors, and fuel injection – they were all going to be the death of the shade-tree mechanic. Here we are some 20 or 30 years later, and he has learned how to repair these systems in his garage. He did it the same way he originally learned engines – by reading, and talking to friends and professionals. iPad = new learning necessary.

    Finally, as much as I love that William Gibson quote, I think it belies a certain snobbery. I think you would agree that we are not all the same, and that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing that some of us are consumers of media – otherwise, the people who make media wouldn’t have anyone to sell to. Media consumers drive the innovation of better ways to consume media – giving the “makers” a reason to create cool new gadgets in the first place.

    I am tangentially reminded of recent research about the variety of ways in which people learn – some learn better while their bodies are moving, some learn better when seated at a lecture. But our entire education system has been created by people who, generally speaking, learn best in traditional settings. They designed the whole system in their image without even knowing it. Hence, kids who can’t sit still are “problem kids” rather than “dancers” or “athletes”. For a time, the tech scene was ruled by “makers”, and it was created in their image. Many of the objects were not beautiful, nor easy to use. I need look no further than my own home theater receiver to find such a device – impossibly complicated control scheme, ugly as sin, but big enough for a clever individual with a soldering gun to make a few repairs. Thankfully, there are now companies where products are designed by artists and usability experts. I wouldn’t want the whole world to be made in their image either – and it won’t be. So, keep an open mind. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy the benefits of some smaller, more ergonomic devices while continuing to tinker with other devices.

  86. As if to say that just because something isn’t complicated, it’s no good? Apple revolutionized computing by making it *simpler*.

  87. I’m not much of an Apple fan (the iPad will be my first Apple product, actually)… but, well, you can make stuff with it. I’m planning to do a lot of writing on it, a lot of sketching. You’ll be able to write blogs, mess with photos, play games, etc. That’s fine. It’s a toy-slash-tv-slash-notepad.

    Without a means of consumption what’s the point of content creation? It isn’t a “computer” in the sense we’re used to. You can absolutely use a “real” computer to make a video or a program or whatever, and then transfer it to the iPad for consumption. I’ll be recording TV shows on my PC and transferring them over. Reading a lot of Project Gutenberg stuff. Watching Youtube.

    I’ve opened up and repaired and upgraded my own laptop, built my own PC — and even fixed a friend’s Macbook, much as a bitch it was to get open. Frankly if my iPad’s warranty expires or it becomes obsolete, I will probably force it open and take a look inside. But I’m not an engineer — Aside from perhaps replacing storage or batteries, I don’t have the knowledge or tools to mess with the circuit boards of such a compact machine. I don’t like the idea of paying to have someone fix it if it gets broken in a way I could normally fix myself, but…

    I think I’m OK with trading the ability to mess with electronics beyond my understanding in order to have a tiny little Star Trekish thingy I can read PDFs and scribble notes in.

  88. I’m with Modern Jess, above. It’s a tool. I draw and paint and do other creative “maker” things…and I will be buying an iPad. I have a powerful desktop computer with which I can use Photoshop to clean up my work and post it online, but I want the iPad for casual web browsing, reading ebooks, emails, maybe playing the occasional game. The less time I have to worry about tweaking the thing, the more time I have to work on a painting or sketch. I am astounded at the panic reaction this device is causing. Look: think of it as a Kindle that plays DVDs. Or a DVD player that happens to have a web browser. Or a gaming device with a word processor built in. But for pete’s sake, it’s not going to eat your children.

  89. Moms just use the “don’t know how to use tech” excuse to get their kids to hang out with them. They’re lonely. They know that if they surf enough web or download enough free screensavers, they’ll get a virus, and their daughter or son with have to come over for dinner and computer fixing.

    I am confused though. On one hand we have Xeni showing off all the cool iPad apps, and then we have Cory’s anti-iPad sentiment. Like an angel and devil on our shoulders. Xeni looks more like an angel, but I typically listen to the devil, so I might have to go with Cory on this one. I’ve always liked that I can change the memory, batteries, hard drives and screens on the laptops I’ve bought.

  90. To paraphrase Thomas Sowell, arguing that the iPad does not meet your personal needs is like saying that calculus does not contain carbohydrates, amino acids, or other nutrients. Everything fails by irrelevant standards. Complaining loudly about why the iPad doesn’t meet your needs assumes that your needs are identical to everyone else’s. Your needs *aren’t* identical to everyone else’s, and to suggest otherwise is simply arrogant and foolish.

    The iPad is not an affront to your personal existence. It’s just a lump of metal and glass. Some people will find it useful, and some people won’t. Telling the people who find it useful that you don’t and they shouldn’t accomplishes only one thing: alienation.

    If that was your goal, congratulations.

    1. It’s so much more though.

      Unless you take everything at plain face-value, there’s a lot more riding on the way that devices like this work.

      What occurs now (e.g. what Apple manage to get away with, to a certain extent) will have at least some affect re. what occurs in the future.

  91. I’m not going to stand in line for one, but there’s no doubt that I’ll own one in the near future. While not having access to the nuts and bolts will be a deterrent to some, the fact that it’s a purpose built appliance that you can just use will be appealing to a great many others.

    I think a device that has access to internet content as well as local apps, regardless of the limitations of the App store, in this form factor has a great number of positive uses, and for the users whose needs it doesn’t fit, like any other device they’ll leave it on the shelf. There will no doubt be a lot of developers creating fantastic and useful applications, and they’ll be able to sell them to a great number of users they would never have had access to directly. Those users will be able to purchase these applications at a lower cost than most commercial software on most other platforms and know that when they install it, it will just work.

    I primarily want to use technology, not tinker with it. If I want to tinker with software, I’ve got different equipment that I can do that on. The iPhone is my preferred phone because it stays out of my way and enables me to communicate as well as do useful work related things and play some games when I feel so inclined. I expect the iPad will be much the same, it will enable me to do some things very well and will stay out of my way while doing that.

    I won’t read books on it, I prefer paperbacks. I may or may not read comics on it. I’ll definitely surf internet content on it, as it’s much better suited for that when sitting on a couch than my laptop is. If there’s a stylus for it at some point, I may take notes in meetings so I’m not burning through so many spiro bound notebooks, but I’ll likely still carry one of those as paper and pen still has a tactile quality I’m not ready to give up. Watching movies on long flights? Absolutely. For roughly the same money as the portable DVD player my kids are using we can get a much more versatile device that will play movies better than the dedicated device does.

    All in all, it’s certainly not for everyone, and I respect that it’s not for you for the reasons you’ve stated. I do think it’s going to be a tremendous success, and it will likely bring to market any number of decent competitive products, some of which will be right for you.

  92. I think I’ll wait for an ipad knock-off that just runs on open software.
    Perhaps it will be called the Lilipad, or Sampad or whatever.
    At anyrate it’ll be cheaper, do what I want it to which is mostly just read some PDF files and play the odd movie.

    1. Look at the Notion Ink. It has a Pixel Qi screen, so it will be killer. Has a multitouch screen. Has a camera (on a swivel so it can point in front, up (so you can use it like a brownie camera), or at you. Should be out in a month or two.

      1. Russ, thanks for the pointer to Notion Ink’s Adam. A *very* interesting device.

  93. For what it’s worth: I’m less bent out of shape about closed hardware than I used to be, since now it’s possible to attach almost anything at “fast enough” speeds via USB. As long as a high-speed open-architecture connection to the outside is available (IF it’s available, which I’m not sure of in the iPad’s case) and the core of the system isn’t going to need direct upgrading such as memory, I can live with a “black box”. And there *are* times when a well sealed box has advantages — Thinkpads are now designed so coffee spills can flow through without damaging anything, but there’s something to be said for a design where they can’t get inside in the first place, and it’s admittedly hard to achieve both good seals and clueful-user-servicability.

    And I don’t care all that much about which processor is used, as long as it’s powerful enough and tools for developing for it are widely available. I happen to be inordinately fond of the Power and Cell families — IBM’s design for the latter really is a 1980’s supercomputer on a chip! — and the only time I look at instruction sets these days is when I need to either write a compiler, tweak device drivers, or do extreme microoptimization. For anything else, optimizing compilers tend to be Quite Good Enough.

    Closing the software architecture bothers me considerably more. I understand the rationalle, but as Cory says I’m not sure that setting that sharp a boundary around the system isn’t going to push it off to the margins once more direct competetors are marketed directly against it.

  94. I think that this comes off a bit arrogant, and here’s why: Cory, you’ve got kind of a ” I have to save the world from itself!” sort of attitude all of a sudden that doesn’t seem to jibe with the “we’ve got to set the world free” attitude that we should all support.

    You don’t think that I should buy an iPad? I don’t think that _you_ should buy a car that was made after about 1975. I can strip a small block Chevy engine down to it’s bare pieces in the middle of nowhere with only the small complement of tools that I carry in the car and have it back together and on the road without so much as asking for a second pair of hands. I also compile my own Linux kernels and make my food from scratch and build my own furniture.

    I also want an iPad. And if it’s awesome, I’ll tell everyone about it that I feel might benefit from knowing. I will because I buy things that are genuinely _useful_ to me. And everyone can worry about me as if I were a drug-tempted teenager and say, “Well I just worry that he got caught up in the Apple marketing machine and doesn’t know what he’s buying…” but those people are he ones that are so greatly underestimating the common sense capabilities of the average American (e.g. the mothers that you’re so worried about), in an insulting kind of tone, I might add. My buying an iPad isn’t closing up the world’s paper comic book supply, and my buying an iPad won’t make my kid any less of a tinkerer than your kid.

    The fact that you’re not looking beyond the actual act of purchasing the device to see who’s actually doing the buying is hugely close-minded and as I said before, the assumption that I need saving is plainly: arrogant.

    1. Apple pays millions and millions of dollars to get its message out – why are you so hurt when someone disagrees with it?

      It’s a bit worrying, imo.

  95. Also for the cost of the basic iPad, I can get like 300 good beers, or maybe 600 cheap-o beers. Beer is really fun.

  96. What percentage of people mod their electronics, wrench their cars or write their own software? What percentage can even install RAM or a new drive in their computers? Without contradicting Cory’s sentiments, I guess you could say the iPad will be a perfect fit for 90% of the U.S. population. And those elite among us can skip the iPad.

    Equating the iPad to the CD-ROM just doesn’t hold water to me. In fact, Cory’s logic seems to indicate the iPad will be a huge failure. If you want to monetize your insight, Cory, please send me a message and we can make wager as to whether the iPad will be a success or failure.

  97. I had a Palm Zire before… and it suffered from some of the same problems the iPad has:

    – Closed platform
    – Can’t change the battery
    – Can’t store files directly
    – No multitasking

    and still it served its purpose perfectly… just like I expect the iPad to do so (I have a lot of e-books and e-comics in PDF and CBR/Z format waiting for it). My microwave oven doesn’t run linux but still reheats my food OK… I don’t expect my appliances to represent me politically.

  98. I had a Palm Zire before… and it suffered from some of the same problems the iPad has:

    – Closed platform
    – Can’t change the battery
    – Can’t store files directly
    – No multitasking

    and still it served its purpose perfectly… just like I expect the iPad to do so (I have a lot of e-books and e-comics in PDF and CBR/Z format waiting for it). My microwave oven doesn’t run linux but still reheats my food OK… I don’t expect my appliances to represent me politically.

  99. There’s another problem with HTML5, a very important one: it runs interpreted code. Yes, Javascript has gotten much, much faster lately, but it doesn’t begin to compare to compiled and optimized Objective C. That alone means webapps will always be crippled. As a casual web developer, I’m very excited about the possibilities of HTML5, but come on, people.


    Cory, I’ll be buying one, despite my hatred of DRM, for one very simple reason: no matter how much Apple would like you to see only the UI and never get to work with the innards, that won’t stop people. There exists a huge and thriving community centered around rooting (jailbreaking) such devices and providing high-quality free and paid applications which don’t go through Apple’s filters. Sure, the hardware is still too hard to modify, but I’ll let them have that – it’s justified by the sheer physical beauty of the iPad. And you might have moral objections to buying a device so locked, but if you believe you own it once you buy it, what does it matter what the company thinks you should be doing with it?

    The comic reader is a bad move on Marvel’s part, of course, but I’ll continue buying comics in dead-tree form, reading them once there, and then scanning or downloading digital versions for consumption on electronic devices. I’m sure there will be superior versions available through the App Store or Cydia (the store for jailbroken iPhones). And if there aren’t, I can make one myself.

    Here’s the core of it: once you hold the physical device in your hands, you do own it, whatever Apple thinks. It might take a tiny amount of work to get access to the core software, but was it not ever so? Most people won’t want to, but they could if they did. If you want to get your own (native) code running, you can do that in ten minutes.

  100. I never visit this site. But after reading this piece (thanks to a link posted on Facebook), I might start. I thought this was really well written and that the author makes some very interesting points.

  101. I wouldn’t buy one for my mom, although I know she’d like a mac book pro. Uh… big price difference.

    My mother, for the record, is a forward thinking intellectual.

    I wouldn’t buy one for myself because I’m frustrated enough with the iPhone.

    Then again I wouldn’t buy a tablet anyway because I don’t see the point of it. I have the phone, I have several laptops, I… just don’t want one more thing to stick in my freaking luggage.

  102. Hmmmm, I guess I am in the hater camp. The paternalistic “users are dumb” vibe from Apple in the last 10+ years just drives me away.

    I had an Apple II e or f as a kid but I’m no programmer.

    I’m not a true hacker, or maker, but I am a fixer. I am an entrepeneur and thus the de-facto sysadmin for my small company.

    I like to get a lot of years out of my hardware. My oldest laptop is vintage 2003 and still runs fine thank you.

    My brother twisted my arm, and for Chanukah this year insisted I get an iPhone finally. The one compelling thing I wanted it for was to be able to check my e-mail on the go. So on that afternoon when I am at remote meetings, or taking the afternoon off and going for a bike ride, I can make sure there is nothing urgent (of course I could also do this with a blackberry.)

    Bottom line, the iPhone is just a toy. I have tried over 100 different apps and find most of them just plain annoying. Thumb crack for the Apple fanboys who can’t sit still long enough to take in a nice spring day or a pretty sunset.

    I have a spiffy up to date iPhone, and 28GB of it’s voluminous hard drive is empty. I have 500 or so songs on it. I check the weather with it. I occasionally use the web browser to find an address. Some times I use it’s crappy navigation. But mostly it is this annoying little pest in my pocket that makes me fidget. On a sunny spring day I take it out of my pocket, lose track of myself, and fiddle with some idiotic distraction I don’t even enjoy.

    My iPhone allows me to be that “a week-old boiled potato” even when I am outdoors on a gorgeous spring day.

    The iPad will only be the same but more so. Locked into Apple’s paternalistic “we know what’s good for you” architecture, with dozens of new ways of nervously wasting time.

    I read a lot. I read mostly periodicals, both hard copy and on the web. General interest and scientific. A year or two ago I let my Sunday NY Times subscription lapse (which I have done on and off for many years even pre-web.) And I have taken to reading the NY Times on-line, either with a laptop, or my iPhone. It makes me nervous. Reading it on a screen is isolating. Not at all the same as a print copy, on the porch, with a cup of good coffee, handing good articles and sections back and forth with my significant other. Technology, once again, helping us lose the human connection. Another step towards the “week-old boiled potato.”

    Steve Jobs is very good at boiling these potatos. I for one increasingly want less of that.

    Computers, iPhones, iPads are tools for me. When I do not need a tool, I don’t want them agitating my psyche and distancing me from the world.

    Turn off the iPhone, throw the iPad away, it’s sunny out; take a walk with someone you like, bake a cake, build a tree house, go on a date, have cocktails with friends.

    Or you can give Steve another $700 so he can help you nervously fiddle in the dark.

  103. I know I’ll end up as Comment # 11x or 12x, and no one will likely read this, but thank you Cory!

    I was practically sick to my stomach after seeing Wired’s lovefest, 10-page long advertisement of the IPad, masquerading as an objective feature.

    The truth is, no one even knows if the IPad will deliver on the positives it purportedly brings to the table. Or if ATT’s 3G network which can’t handle even IPhones with consistency, will be able to absorb a flood of IPads always on, always connected.

    And then as you point out, is the dissolving of innovation and unfiltered independent development, libel to suffocate fresh ideas.

    The amount of objective, reasonable coverage of the IPad is so sadly missing practically everywhere, I’d say it’s one huge conspiracy, except, it’s obvious, that the mainstream media has bought into the promise that the IPad will somehow save them. If anything, it’s possible it may hasten their demise, as people will be even less likely to have a need for printed magazine or newspaper sized content, and especially a desire to pay for any of it.

  104. I won’t be buying one. For several reasons but primarily because it’s overpriced and 1st gen. In six months when Apple’s releasing the 2nd gen and one year when the 3rd gen is announced for the same or less than this, well…early adopters always pay the price.

    But the other big reason is because I’m waiting for the Notion Ink Adam to be available. It appears to be a so much better device for half the price. (http://www.notionink.in/index.php)

  105. We can’t say there is no precedent for the iPad. Thomas Edison and his many attempts to control media hardware, distribution and content come to mind.

    Steve Jobs is not only the spiritual heir to Edison but P.T. Barnum as well.

    Just as smart phones and app stores are really meant for stupid people, the iPad will prove without a doubt there is a sucker born every minute.

  106. Cory, I would be curious to hear your thoughts in the video game console market. To me, the iPad is less restrictive than any game console. I’m not saying that we should settle on the iPad because of this, but I would like to read your thoughts on how the other side lives. This may be another article in itself, but I can wait. :)

  107. I’ll probably do the same with the ipad as I did with the ipod touch, wait until someone jailbreaks it. Apple’s “you can only use what we let you” policy is the biggest problem I have, but once that’s gone, the ipod touch is a *really* cool device. Hopefully there aren’t problems jailbreaking with apple’s processor…

  108. Didn’t people spout all the same whine about the iPhone, iMac, and iPod?

    More the point, I can think of one absolutely killer app for the iPad:

    Electronic musicians, producers, dj’s etc.

    This thing is an endlessly configurable portable control surface with enough computing power to double as a low end laptop with a ton of apps for all of the above immediately available.


    Now anyone can have a $2000 Jazz Lemur for a fraction of the price.

    Why waste your money on anything else?

  109. Cory, the chief value of the iPad is the size of the market is creates. First, it’s compatible with the iTouch, so that it starts off with a bunch of applications. Yes, they’re written for a much smaller screen, but those app vendors have a step up. Second, they’re going to sell a lot of them, because it’s Apple, and because it’s a big touchscreen device with multitouch. Yes, it will have competition, e.g. from the Notion Ink. But they’ll all be a little different, or run a different OS, or have a different graphics toolkit.

    A lot of the value that Apple brings is simply creating a big market. Apple has the cool to do that. Linux has more cool — lots more cool — but it’s spread out among a bunch of vendors who don’t see the value in creating a standard. They all think that THEY are going to create a big market and they will be the people to control it. Kinda like the progressives think that after creating a powerful government, they will be the people to control it.

  110. At some point, not to far away in our science fiction future, technology products like the iPad will likely be extruded like a single piece of plastic. For all intents and purposes, it will be a single, solid item. There may be literally be no way to tinker with it. Toss it in the recycling slot and extrude another.

    Does that mean it’s not yours?

    This brief, hobbyist phase we’re in right now means you can mess about under the hood, but I shouldn’t expect it to last much longer. Perhaps we’ll have more control over what forms we extrude or paint our gadgets, but I have no anticipation of being able to take apart and mess about with nano tech, replicated, unibody goods.

    Makers may become the new Amish.

  111. wow, i’m sorry but you come across as being really jaded. We get it, you like to tinker and get your hands dirty, but i find your comments over the top. You’ll find that you are in the minority of people who needs to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in. If you are the geeky kind, that has control issues, and needs to be able to alter every facet of the device they own then I can really see how the ipad isn’t for you. I really don’t see this as a the threat to the fair world (really come on), so you can take you lighter away from the ethergy of steve jobs.

    1. I’ve owned an iPhone for 3 years: I bought my first one about 6 months after the initial release, and I’ve upgraded twice since then. I finally sold my last iPhone last month to get an Android phone.

      I see where Cory is coming from. The iPhone’s UI is the model of simplicity. It’s smooth, shiny, and very useful.

      But going from the iPhone to Android is like going from a toy to a tool. Not only can I write apps on a PC (the Apple SDK only works on the Mac), but I can do things that the iPhone won’t let you do (without jailbreaking.) The Apple-banned PDANet works great on my iPhone, as does Google Voice and my podcast catcher – all things that Apple banned.

      I can even (gasp!) install custom firmware or downgrade my firmware – without hacking the device.

      Cory’s hit the nail on the head. Where Apple says “DON’T OPEN THIS BOX”, Android and *nix and Windows say “Come in, have a good time!”

      As much as I envy the iPad’s shiny, glossy exterior, I plan to wait for the HP Slate. I don’t need to wait and hope for “an app for that”… because there already IS one.

    2. wow, i’m sorry but you come across as being really naive. We get it, you like to consume and keep your hands clean, but i find your comments over the top. You’ll find that you are in the majority of people who like to passively consume their media. If you are the regular kind, that has no desire to create, and doesn’t need to question authority or improve or fix the device they own then I can really see how the ipad is for you. I really see this as a threat to the fair world (I really do), so you can take you lighter away from the effigy of Cory Doctrow

      Please take with a pinch of salt :)

  112. My ex-wife (we get along smashingly) is a doctor and from what I can observe, the medical community is going going batshit crazy for the ipad. I can promise you this, the ipad is going to find it’s way into just about every kind of business. Doctors will use 3rd party devices with the ipad for diagnostics and will carry those bitches around like like a holy man carries the bible. To assume anything less is folly.

    I hate how it’s locked up and plan to jailbreak it immediately but this device is going to change things.

  113. I am sincerely filled with admiration for the Makers Manifesto and tinkerers. However, as a practical matter I think most of the wired world consists of people like me, somewhere in that vast swath between geeks and mothers, between people who really want to open up gadgets and mess around and people who are entirely timid and clueless. I don’t know if I want an iPad. It depends how pleasurable it really is to use. But just as I don’t choose who to love or befriend ideologically, it’s sort of the same way with things: the heart wants what the heart wants.

  114. I hate to say it, but Cory’s maker/DRM obsession is making his articles increasingly uninteresting. This one seems to have been written by some kind of weak AI based on a Markov model of his earlier writings; 100% predictable from the first sentence.

    I think it’s safe to say that Cory has never owned a video game console, given that they have the same issues the iPad does (in fact, they basically invented them.) That’s fine, for him, but he’s been in a small minority, those issues didn’t cause consoles to fail, and some great games came out of the industry. I think the same is true of the iPhone/iPad.

    Also, the idea that the iPad is somehow all about “old media” is absurd. It’s just an angle that the press itself has been hyping. The clear precedent here is the iPhone (remember? That existing thing that’s a lot like the iPad?) which has been a godsend to indie software developers. Take a look at the great iPhone games reviewed on Offworld and tell me with a straight face that the iPhone ecosystem is killing “makers”.

    1. Also, the idea that the iPad is somehow all about “old media” is absurd. It’s just an angle that the press itself has been hyping.

      Right. While it does give old media a possible new revenue-generating content delivery platform – one not dependent on killing trees and trucking tons of proto-landfill across the country at ever-increasing postage rates – it gives that same platform to any mom-and-pop shop that wants to publish. In that sense it levels the playing field in much the way that blogs have on the web, while also making it possible to be self-supporting and whatever level one chooses to operate (and the “free” web is still always there as yet another option).

      As has been pointed out several times, if you’re a Maker of content, a large potential audience and a small-but-certain revenue guarantee is a huge win. I don’t have a philosophical issue with paying for what comes to me via this device (whether it’s an app or content) if I’m happy with what I get and the price is reasonable. I’ve probably put a dozen apps on my iPhone, and I know for a fact that the combined total I’ve shelled out is less than the price of some individual shareware programs I use on my Macs. I’ve gotten a lot of utility relatively cheaply, the developer got enough income to keep creating, and Apple got a cut for making the whole thing possible. Seems like a win all around.

      Meanwhile, if I want to hack tools, I still have a desktop and a laptop at my command.

  115. Cory, with all due respect: meh!

    I’m a sysadmin. I support a department’s worth of desktops, a couple of servers, and a bunch of other tech. I’ve been using Linux in various distributions for well over a decade, and various other *nixes.

    But at the end of the day, when I’m really too tired to deal with something flaky, I come home to a Mac. With a Mac, I’m pretty certain I can accomplish whatever task I need to do without some “issue” coming up. And today’s OS X has all the command line stuff you’ll ever need.

    On top of that, I don’t find Apple hardware to be closed. Oh yeah, if you’re not technical. Otherwise, a box is a box. I’ve upgraded my supposedly “closed” Mac Mini, I’ve replaced the battery on my “unopenable by mere mortals” iPod, etc. And it’s always been thus with Apple hardware. From using Mac crackers for the old 512Ks, to spatulas to open the Mac Mini. If you want in, you can get in. And usually without permanent damage. And you can jailbreak an iPhone.

    I agree with you, Cory, about ThinkPads. Great hardware. But really no better than MacBook Pros (though maybe cheaper). You know, you can run Ubuntu on a MacBook Pro too. You can run Ubuntu pretty much on any general purpose computer Apple makes. How long before you can run a Linux distribution on an iPad? I give it 90 days.

    As for the Apple operating system/s, well, you get what you pay for. But compare a full version of Windows is somewhere around $300, a full version of OS X is somewhere around $169 now with the box set (including all the iApps and productivity – true, a weird arrangement), Linux, free (depending).

    With Windows, you’re mostly screwed no matter how much you pay. OS X seems like a relatively fair deal. Linux… can be a little iffy. And then there’s the BSDs…

    I grew up in a world where when you bought something you could whatever the hell you wanted with it. Well, except for the telephone. Which you couldn’t buy, could you? Things change.

  116. Cory,

    I agree with all of your criticisms of the iPad and disagree with all of your conclusions.

    You seem to be writing that “if the iPad has these deficiencies, then by definition, no one should buy it”. Wouldn’t a more reasoned approach be that “if the iPad has these deficiencies, then each person should look and see if it is still worth it to them”.

    I don’t share my comic books. I don’t trade them or loan them out. I read them a couple of times, and then I generally toss them. So it doesn’t matter to me that I can trade them or loan them or access them five years later if I buy them for the iPad. In this case, I lose nothing by getting them for the iPad and I gain convenience.

    Would I like a free an open app universe for the iPad? Of course I would. Do I still find enough apps on the App Store to make the iPad worth it to me? Definitely.

    Would I prefer it if I could open up the iPad and tinker with the insides. OK, you lost me here. I really don’t want to do that. I custom built my computers for a while, but I have long since decided that the minor advantages are just not worth the hassle. And, as a guy who started working with Linux on version 0.13, let me say that I have moved on from kernel hacking as well.

    Its an entertainment device. It seems to me that the question for people should be “Is the amount of entertainment you get worth the money you pay?” If it is, then you should get one. You have turned the question into “Are you willing to give up your freedom for a bit of short term pleasure?” I buy that argument when voting, not so much when buying a toy.

    By the way, I just went to Disney World for the day to take pictures. I spent the whole day re-listening to “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom”.

    Regards, Michael

  117. Actually it occurs to me that this is just the old Mac-vs-Linux debate in another guise. And I have the same answer to it:

    When I want to do X — where X is ‘watch a movie’ or ‘print a photo’ or ‘write a story’ or ‘generate a Mandelbrot outline to laser-cut’ — I want the computer to let me do X as easily and transparently as possible. Anything that gets in the way saps my energy and creativity and ends up infuriating me.

    That is why I have installed and uninstalled Linux several times in the past 12 years. Linux was great fun when X=’tinker with and set up my computer’. But when I wanted to do other stuff I ended up derailed with searching web forums for info about WiFi drivers or learning how to relink the kernel. And y’know, there are times when that’s fun. But not when what I really want to do is print a photo or host a little Rails site or whatever.

    So yes, yay for tinkering and making! But I don’t always tinker and make, and at those times I want my device to be smooth and seamless and reliable. So when I go downtown for groceries I take the Acura, not the old half-taken-apart Fiat Spider. When I want to play some music, I’ll use a music app (by some awesome indie developer of course) on my iPad, not the halfway-put-together x0xbox kit that I solder a few more transistors onto once in a while. The kit is fun too, but not for the same things. Got it?

  118. Great thread! Here’s my take. There are two types open: intended and hacked. You can buy a car *kit* and build from scratch or tweak an existing car.

    In 1998 I made something similar to iPad for VJs. I ordered a Sharp Mebius from Japan, with an extra body and a Wacom tablet. The intent was to remove the keyboard from the Mebius, replace it with a 4×5 Wacom tablet, and used the handwriting recognition from Paragraph (originally used in the Newton and -ironically- purchased by Microsoft). Yes, tis nice to hack hardware.

    When the iPhone came out, I jailbroke it and wrote this: http://www.youtube.com/ikoino#p/u/13/2xC1lvNgGMk instead of hacking hardware, I focused on the software side. Making shifted up notch to a higher layer of abstraction.

    Now with the iPad, I’m porting everything to sit on top of ontology. Here is a visualization : http://www.youtube.com/ikoino#p/u/6/a703TTbxghc which was inspired by playing around with patchable music instruments, like this: http://bit.ly/cNWJ71 So, Making has shifted up a notch, again. Now, it is patching events percolating through a namespace.

    Yes, hypercard was great. And, as Jack Daniel mentioned in #102, people are cracking upon the SDK to create their own apps. And perhaps, they’ll be able to patch sensors and renders together like the modular Moog, of days gone by.

    So, I think the iPad is quite a Make-able. And, oh yeah, I almost forgot: make-able at about 1/5 the price of I spent on the original Mebius/Wacom tweak. Cheers.

  119. Wow!! Until I read this article, I thought I was a car enthusiast. You see, I bought a cool car because:
    (A) I need/want transportation which my car provides, and
    (B) my car its well designed by professional engineers, its well made, its good looking – and frankly, its cool.
    I LOVE to drive my car!
    I love the way it functions as a transportation device! I love maintaining it, I love buying accessories for it.
    All this time I *THOUGHT* I was a “car enthusiast”.

    Little did I know that I’m really a car-phobe, that I’m “Stupid” and I don’t even have genitals!
    All because I don’t feel ANY desire to tear apart my car’s transmission and try to re-design it.

    Wow!! Who knew?

  120. I agree very strongly with the review. It’s really all about greed and overconfidence. Sony and Apple are notorious for trying to force their customers into buying Sony or Apple accessories for their products and when they have a seller’s market, everything is proprietary. Then when people stop buying, suddenly support for 3rd party hardware and software starts showing up.

    Let me compare media players. I have an old Samsung YP-C1 MP3 player; it’s about the size of my thumb, holds a gig of MP3/OGG/WAV files, has a small LCD that tells me what I’m listening to, records MP3s and runs for 44 hours continuously on one AA battery, which I can replace with another AA battery in under 5 seconds and continue listening for as long as I have more batteries, available almost anywhere. When I want to change files, I plug it into the USB port and copy/delete just like on a regular thumb drive. I have complete control over everything. Of course, there are three problems: one gig doesn’t hold my entire audio file collection, it doesn’t have an Apple logo and it isn’t cool. With my iPod, I can’t copy or delete anything without iTunes (which is almost impossible to install on the 64-bit Windows XP I use) and the battery only last a few hours, even with a Minty Boost. If an iPad is similar, do I really want to spend $650 on something that doesn’t have freeware and I have limited control over?

  121. tee hee. my mom was the first person i know to pre-order an iPad. Cory, stop talkin’ about my mama!

  122. To all these people berating Cory for starting a debate about the deficiencies of the iPad – what are your real problems?

    Are you so firmly entrenched in the idea that Apple is great, that you can’t bear to hear otherwise?

    Is it really that that painful to hear a voice of dissent?

    1. To all these people berating the iPad for not being tailored perfectly to your own specific needs – what are your real problems?

      Are you so firmly entrenched in the idea that the iPad cannot be allowed to exist that you can’t bear to hear about anyone who intends to buy one?=

      Is it really that that painful to hear a voice of dissent?

  123. I know this is not your intention, Cory, but some of the criticism I’m reading from technophiles about the iPad is that it’s not designed for technophiles who like to create and/or tinker (I know this is a gross oversimplification of what you are suggesting). As a user who is reasonably technical enough to enjoy tinkering and creating, sometimes I just don’t feel interested in tinkering or creating. Sometimes I just want to consume, or communicate, or share, or read. I see an iPad like device very useful as a supplement to how I use technology. But I know there are a LOT of people out there uninterested in creating or tinkering and if the iPad can appeal to that crowd — despite its flaws — I say more power to Apple.

  124. Sorry Cory. Because a digital device doesn’t subscribe to a “maker manifesto” doesn’t lessen it’s worth to me.

    A closed system can also be a thing worthy of celebration and even beauty. It can be efficient, designed for consistency and less buggy.

    What’s wrong with a controlled experience? We’ve been going to movies for centuries now yes? Why are options always good things?

    I think Propellerheads Reason/Record software is another fine example of a closed system that works wonderfully.

    Apple have done a commendable job in creating devices that (dare I say it) are fun to use. They design experience. I think this is something that “makers” will never like. Your fun is derived from a different set of rules and expectations.

    But I have no interest in taking something apart.
    I don’t care how a carburetor works.
    I loathe opening a computer and witnessing the guts.

    And if I want to share a comic (something I rarely did as a kid BTW). I’ll buy a physical comic? It’s not a big deal to me.

    I live in the dark after all.

    But, as much as it may pain you to know, their are lots of us in here.

  125. Well said, Cory, well said.
    Unfortunately, given Apple’s virtual control of the media, 99% of potential buyers will only ever hear gushing praise for this over-priced proprietary gadget.

  126. I do indeed. My I am typing this on an Ubuntu Thinkpad, tethered to a rooted NexusOne.

    Hi Cory.

    You bought a device that will be e-waste in a couple of years. From a seller that runs a walled-garden approach to software. Then you jailbroke the device. To run software that runs against the wishes of the carrier (which you signed an agreement not to do)

    By your admission, shouldn’t you have not bought the Nexus One? and never signed up with the carrier that wouldn’t let you do what you wanted as far as tethering?

  127. Lets get this out of the way. I have an iPod (first gen of the video version), a Macbook (2007), and I had a Nano (which I just lost on a plane trip in January… it has my phone number on the back, but no calls. I do not have an iPhone (AT&T….. I’m looking at you).

    I know the reasons to hate on an iPad, and I think you bring up some great issues about sharing content (book swaps). But, as a geek girl since ’81 (which is when I was born) – I also know the majority of the world does not understand my flavors of geekdom.

    How many times have I wished for just the right comic for that person to be in my hands so I could show them how awesome it is? But I can’t lug around every flavor of graphic novel all the time. The iPad is something I can hand over to a friend to have them read/watch/listen off of my iPad. It’s just how I see highschool kids using their iPods and smart phones (hey listen to this track.. look at this picture).

    I think the power of the iPad is going to be in passive computer use. I’m an online, Creative Writing, graduate student who has cross-country flights every six months while I finish up my degree. The iPad will be the perfect device to take on planes (since using my laptop in Economy class is fairly worthless when the person in front of me decides to recline). When I’m at the beach I can read my short story assignments or jot down an idea I have for my next article. (Of course, I’m opting for the 3G versions out later this month).

    And, of course, some of the desire is my geek-factor. I grew up with Star Trek Next Generation being my first Trek. I’ve wanted a iPad ever since it was a PADD.

  128. We were seriously thinking about getting a matching pair of iPads. Then came AAPL’s censorship. Light bulb: one source for all software, moderated by, not only function, but also, content.

    Then came the battery issue: I might be willing to go to the shop for battery replacement, but at the cost of a memory swipe? I’m not sure.

    Okay, so, but this morning came the killer. I reckon I can understand why it would be: drivers. (Maybe someone far more intelligent can tell me I’m dead wrong.) The danged thing can’t send a simple file to a printer! (We’re old-fashioned enough that we like to have a printed copy when, for example, we order stuff online. Printed postcards are nice, too.)

    Kills it for us. Period.

    AAPL said all along they didn’t intend it as a stand-alone device. It’s purely and totally an adjunct. We can do without.

  129. Too many people flamed me for me to reply to each one in a small amount of time so, here goes a lump reply: =)

    1) When I said you can’t create anything, I was speaking with hyperbole. Sure, you can create some things, but you can’t exactly fire up Maya on this or Photoshop with a tablet and start doing serious 3D art (as far as I know…I haven’t read anything about drawing on it in a serious way yet…but if I’m wrong about that, then I’m wrong and I admit it!)

    Without Maya though, a tablet isn’t really great for work for me.

    2) Dreamweaver, anyone? Some of us create stuff with Dreamweaver/Flash/etc… no clue if that will come in the future, but given Job’s total hatred for Flash, I don’t see that in the cards anytime soon I guess. Tho I can imagine that HTML5 upgrades will be good for web sites and that’s a good thing, yes.

    3) While lots of games will be played on the iPad, you’ll still need a powerful desktop (or laptop) to create most of the content for it (as far as I know….). So it isn’t a desktop or laptop killer at all.

    And to the person who said that I don’t want to pay for the products (or whatever), I didn’t say that at all. I’m totally for Apple making money and I did say that I love Apple a lot. I just think that their attitude sucks right now about content choice and controlling every single thing there is.

    Also, I have to agree with Cory on the Murdoch thing. I think Murdoch should charge for content, but I don’t think that this will solve their problems as most people will just go to free sites. Remember the NYT trying this out a few years back? It didn’t work. Remember CNN trying that out with their video feeds? That didn’t work either. The iPad may make that partially successful, but I doubt it’ll entirely replace what we have now for content delivery.

    BTW, I recently switched from an iPhone to an Android and I have to agree with the poster who said it’s like going from a toy to a tool. I love my Droid and what it can do. I love the iPhone for actually creating the smartphone market though, just as I love the iPod for creating the MP3 market for a wide audience (even though many were there before it, few were using it until the iPod).

    So yes, I do respect and even love Apple, so please don’t think I’m a hater. That wasn’t very cool. But I don’t like what Apple has been doing lately with it’s store, and a lot of other things. That doesn’t make me a hater, it makes me an honest critic.

    BTW, for what it’s worth, I do think the iPad as a model is around to stay and will be something integral in the future. I think though, like the iPhone, it’s going to have some serious competition from Google and others in the coming years.

    Oh and one more thing: obviously there are many Apple fans who are not entirely pleased with the contractual agreements of the App store. Tim Bray’s posting on it *was* very important. We’re not talking about tons of people who just hate Apple calling foul on the iPad and iPhone lately. There are many people who love Apple, and don’t mind buying lots of things from Apple (and have done so in the past), calling foul on some things lately. It’s not just purely Open Source people, or “net hippies” who think everything should be free (I sell digital art of sorts online myself…even though I do give some things for free). I think these are serious issues that are being raised lately. Just flaming and dismissing us as stupid or dumb isn’t the way to talk about them, thank you.

    I’ve been an Apple fan for a long time, I’ve bought lots of products from them, and I will keep doing that in the future. So maybe, when somebody like me is starting to get concerned about some of the directions of the company, the first thing that shouldn’t be done is to say that I’m an idiot.

    Thank you and all.

    1. “When I said you can’t create anything, I was speaking with hyperbole. Sure, you can create some things, but you can’t exactly fire up Maya on this or Photoshop with a tablet and start doing serious 3D art (as far as I know…I haven’t read anything about drawing on it in a serious way yet…but if I’m wrong about that, then I’m wrong and I admit it!”

      So only computers that can run Maya or Photoshop have validity? What about all the people that don’t care one whit about those applications?

      Talk about myopic.

      1. @Jess

        I didn’t say that the iPad was invalid. I just think that I’ve heard enough “is this the end of the laptop?” hype that I should point out that it isn’t the end of the laptop, nor will it replace some work computers for people like me who make stuff on computers for providers of digital content.

        Where did I say that it was invalid?

  130. Full disclosure first. I follow you, Cory, because you once had a very literate defense of my occupation (I’m a field rep for publishers). And I do believe you have every right to express your take on the iPad hype. But there were a couple of things in your post that compelled me to comment here.
    First, since you brought in your ancestry, I’ll start there. My father was born in 1917. He left high school to join the CCC. He wanted to assist the family finances (his dad was a carpenter). He never graduated, but he read books voraciously for the rest of his life. During WW2, he spent his time in Europe as a jeep mechanic. And that’s how he made his living, as an auto mechanic.
    In other words, I come from a line of makers & tinkerers.
    I remember my 10th Christmas for 2 reasons, one was the chance to see the surface of the moon on TV (Apollo 8) and second, because my dad (a single parent in the 60s) gave me a toy computer. There were little cards with multiple choice questions that you inserted and the answer was given in a light bulb array. Flashforward to high school,1975, my computer math class which involved cards and COBOL to solve a square root problem. Flashforward to college, using SAS and Fortran to do longitudinal analysis for my senior limnology project.
    All this to say, I have been engaged with computers for a long time. Can I change a tire, change the oil, find the plugs on a car? Sure. But my dad intentionally didn’t teach me much because he didn’t want me to spend my life hunched over a car for a job.
    I have a 6-year old. Do I want him to be a code monkey, or a Genius barista, or a Geek squad fixer, not really. But I do want him to embrace all the power and wonder and knowledge that the digital world offers. And I think the iPad is the most simple, elegant way for an individual to interact with that world produced yet.Am I teaching to conform to info silos and DRM. No, and I think that Lessig, Lanier and you are doing a fine job pushing the conversation forward on those topics. Will we read books on it? Likely not, because there is no measure for the joy I get watching him hunched over a paperback copy of Geronimo Stilton, then explaining to me what he has read.
    It’s interesting to read about the choices you have made about the iPad. I’m not buying your call for the rest of us not to buy one.

  131. “The iPad you buy today will be e-waste in a year or two (less, if you decide not to pay to have the battery changed for you).”

    Ok Cory, I’ll take you up on that proposition. Contact me and we will finalize a $1000 bet at 1:1 odds. If by April 10th 2011 more than 50% of the week 1 iPad owners have needed a new battery I will pay you, otherwise you can pay me.

    If you are just meme fluffing and traffic whoring, then you don’t need to respond or can delete this comment.

  132. I don’t like artichokes. I think I’ll write an angry post on my blog about how I don’t like them, and because *I* don’t like them, nobody else should buy them, either.

  133. Does it bother you that you can’t take apart your processor? How about the video chip? The screen? The battery? Maybe it does bother you, but has it meaningfully stifled your curiosity or creativity?

    It’s not entirely accidental that each of those components is, individually, significantly more reliable than it’s even possible for you assembled computer to be. Partly that’s because the assembled computer’s failure rate is greater than the sum of its parts’ failure rates. But it’s also easier to design something reliable when it doesn’t have to permit disassembly.

    Apple just works at a higher level of abstraction. As a developer of web software, I’m absolutely thrilled with anything that a) makes the web even more accessible to more people, and b) pushes violently forward on the *standards-compliant* capabilities of the web.

    1. It doesn’t bother me that I can’t get into the CPU as a component. It *does* bother me that ostensibly fungible components (eg. x86-compatible CPUs) nevertheless fit into proprietary sockets that are manufacturer-specific, such that I have to purchase motherboard/CPU *combinations*. Note that several of the other components you mention do not suffer from this problem.

      I’m reasonably certain that eventually the ‘handheld touchscreen’ will become a fungible component akin to a universal remote, a monitor, or a keyboard, but that isn’t actually what Apple is doing here.

      Now, if only wall-warts were standardized like batteries…

  134. Thank you Cory. After those very enthusiastic posts about the new iPad, that didn’t even mention its restrictive nature I was beginning to loose faith in Boing Boing.

    To bring Benjamin Franklin to the 21. Century:
    Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary stylishness, deserve neither.

  135. I’ll stick with my Touchbook. It may not have fancy Apple UIs, but it’s WAY cheaper and I’ve got tons of options for OS, application sources, and some hardware components.

  136. Not to mention that I can buy a really nice Asus netbook for the same price – 10.5 hours battery life (probably more like 8-9 in real life) with a real keyboard, and all the software windows or linux can provide, without the iFascists looking over my shoulder ensuring that I dont’ do anything they don’t like.

    Apples stubborn instance that their fascism is all about maximizing the user experience is a joke. If I can’t take off the training wheels and get out of the driveway, it certainly wouldn’t be maximizing my experience.

    I mean, seriously – they talk about the lack of Flash as having been a security issue or the like… but it’s transparent that they just don’t want people to be free playing flash games instead of buying apps.

    Why on earth would I want to buy a crippled netbook?

  137. I agree with you. I think the future of computing doesn’t lie in devices like this because of their restricted nature. However, it’s a tell-tale sign that Apple is still alive at all despite it’s almost three decades of closed-business on their hardware (which hurt them immensely in the 90’s).
    Apple’s attention to detail, usability and design (which I would argue is as important in our devices as our ability to “own” them -i.e. take them apart) has taken computing to a new level where creative people (like me) feel like they have a device they can actually create with out of the box, and consume/interact with others creations as well. The ipad is a consumptive medium, but there is no doubt that it is interactive; and for the same reason that Linux hasn’t achieved the GUI design levels of Apple, I’m not sure an open source company can streamline the experience that Apple has created in the iPad… but we will see.
    Great article, gets me thinking.

  138. Great piece and a very thought-provoking counter to the temptation I could feel creeping up on me after reading Xeni’s posts.

    And the fact that Xeni can post a glowing review and Cory can blast out such a condemnation fills me with admiration for Boing Boing. Balance in journalism without hiding under a rock… fantastic!

  139. I can’t wait until 15 years from now, when everyone is using their completely-closed APPLE STANDARD COMPUTER, using their APPLE STANDARD MUSIC PLAYER to listen to APPLE STANDARD MUSIC. Then when you are getting in your APPLE STANDARD 2025 CAR, driving to the APPLE STANDARD STORE to pick up a loaf of APPLE STANDARD BREAD PRODUCT and a jug of APPLE STANDARD MILK PRODUCT, you suddenly realize, “Holy Shit, Cory was right.”

  140. Cory, I think you’re conflating two arguments here: Why the iPad won’t work on the market (like AOL and CD-ROMS), and why *you* don’t like it. You don’t like the iPad because of its DRM and lack of hackability, and that’s totally understandable. However, the market has pretty well demonstrated that *it* overwhelmingly doesn’t care about those issues. The insane success of the iPhone (three *billion* apps downloaded/paid for!) demonstrated that.

  141. This is absolutely silly. Can’t create content? Have you ever picked up an iPhone? Please look at the gazillion apps in the App Store which allow you to make music, visual art, alter your photos and videos, write the next great American novel, and so on. I am regularly surprised and delighted by new apps and the novel things they allow me to do on something smaller than a deck of playing cards. If Apple is stifling the creativity of developers I have yet to see evidence of it. I’d rather have Apple-vetted apps that don’t crash than a device full of buggy, conflicting software turning my iPhone or iPad into a brick.

    As others have noted, I don’t see you griping about not being able to take apart and customize an Xbox to play PS3 or Wii games on it, yet those devices are successful because they are closed systems and, most importantly, because they simply work.

    Enjoy taking apart your Lenovo Ubuntu Thinkpad Netbook Whatchamajig and stuffing it with homebrew apps, but I suspect you’ll soon be peering over the shoulder of someone using an iPad with more than a wee bit of envy. It’s not for you — fine. Don’t buy one. But suggesting that others should adopt your extreme DIY aesthetic is like demanding that they convert to Mormonism.

  142. I am quite amazed at how much attention and how many words are being spent on the iPad, even before its release. I suppose this is a testament both to the fact that there is a dearth of other market-shaking innovation at this time and Apple’s track record with the iPod and iPhone.

    It’s just a product, kids, with things to like and things to dislike, some bits to love and others to hate. It does not posses the power to have such negative effects on the world as we know it.

    I admire Cory’s work and respect his opinion. And I *completely agree* with his take on how publishers, editors, copyright holders and such are pathetic in their whooping it up while creating products to run on the iPad using yesterday’s ideas.

    But I’m afraid that language such as “…submit to the whims of a single company that had declared itself gatekeeper for your phone and other personal technology.” is a load of manure. It is unnecessarily inflammatory and distracting from the issues at hand.

    Apart from the fact that nobody is being forced to buy the thing or develop for it, many will gladly do so. And not because they are too stupid or vain or lack the ethical backbone on display in this post, but because they will get value in return in the form of fun, joy, learning, convenience or even cash.

    And for the rest of you naysayers, you will have Apple to thank for the speed with which the next generation of successful Maker’s Manifesto tablet products will find their way into your hot little hands. They will have relied on Apple having opened the market and will have borrowed some interface ideas, form factor ideas and business model ideas from the iPad. I will be as upset and angry as the rest of you if Apple decides to sue any of these spawn for patent or copyright violations, but that’s another matter.

  143. I apologize in advance if this has already been said, but if you wanted your kid to grow up to be a confident, entrepreneurial, and firmly in the camp that believes that you should forever be rearranging the world to make it better, you’d download the Apple iPhone SDK.

    No, they wouldn’t learn how to wield a soldering gun, but there’s still tons of opportunity for growth and enrichment.

  144. Maybe I’m being oblique, but this reminds me – in a good way – of something Nathanael West wrote almost 70 years ago, in his novella Miss Lonelyhearts:

    “Men have always fought their misery with dreams. Although dreams were once powerful, they have been made puerile by the movies, radio and newspapers. Among many betrayals, this one is the worst.”

    Media technology is an amazing kind of amplifier for the human, and it can take us in either direction: the sweating carcass on the sofa, the thinker and doer of things previously unimagined. And this is one of the most brilliant invectives against the former that I’ve read for a long time. Time to burn my iPhone…

  145. Of course you’re fully entitled to your opinion – I don’t agree with it, but then I’m entitled to that as well. Like some other commenters it’s the suggestion that not only you don’t want an iPad, but no-one else should either that I find slightly offensive. I want one. And I don’t want something I can take apart, or get into the OS, or mess around with. What on earth would I want a tool for? I want something that looks good, and works. All the reviews I’ve seen suggests it does both. So, I’ll get one, and if it becomes anything like a part of my life like the iPhone has, it won’t be money wasted.

  146. The points you make are certainly valid in a general sense of computing. I just think applying the ideas to the specific case of the iPhone OS platform is to miss the point.

    This new class of consumer computer is not going to be *for* the tinkerer, the enthusiast, the geek/nerd. It’s designed for a different category of people – for people that don’t want to deal with software that comes in rpms or exes, for people that want to buy software the same way they buy music, for people that don’t want to learn user interface arcana, and for people that don’t have time for details. Heck, it’s for people that don’t know (or care) what a “file system” is!

    Ever since the Apple II+, computers have been transitioning from needing specialized training, thick user manuals, and hours of frustration to learn, to something that has a folded up 8.5″x11″ piece of paper with a few usage hints that might not be immediately obvious. Open the box, turn it on and just use it.

    The group of people that the iPad is designed for is not a long tail – it’s a huge demographic with spare cash to spend. And they are going to use this invention in ways no one guessed. This is the future of consumer computing. Like it or not – here it comes.

    1. While waxing eloquent about how important it is to have an easy to use machine, please note: there is nothing preventing an easy to use machine from being open source.

      Open source doesn’t just mean I can get in there and tinker. Most people don’t. Open source means I can hire somebody to fix it if its broken, or pass it along to a charitable organization for refurbishing and reclamation instead of throwing it out in a year or two.

      I remember when everyone said Windows was intuitive and easy to use….

  147. Got it bang on Cory. I still have my Apple ][+ (a CLONE model even), and if I had the space to hook it up, it would probably still work (I know the other //’s I’ve collected over the years all still do!).
    It’s too bad those of us who share this opinion seem to be in the dwindling minority, as more and more people are content to have technology spoon-fed to them in bite-sized pieces, because cutting our own portion sizes means we need utensils, and that’s just too scary, someone may get hurt!

  148. It’s funny- Cory blogs with glee about how the hard-copy newspaper industry is dying because of *dynamic!* *new*! *media!* paradigms, and then almost in the same breath cries bitterly about how the hard-copy comic book industry is dying because of these exact same *dynamic!* *new!* *media!* paradigms. But comic books are near and dear to Cory’s heart, so it’s a terrible tragedy, Oh The Humanity, etc etc. “Oh merciful heavens, won’t someone think of the comic books being brutally destroyed by this evil new gadget?”


    The fact is that very few people under the age of 30 read or collect comic books. I know dozens of my son’s friends (all in the 15 to 18 year old range) and not a one of them has the slightest interest in comic books. Not one. The interest just isn’t there for them. Go ahead, ask around at your local high school. Comic books? Please, they’d rather admit to being Power Ranger fans.

    Anyway…to be blunt, I’m NOT an Apple fan in the least. I hate the generally closed nature of their products. I don’t like their gate-keeping and overly-tight control of anything that touches their hardware. I just don’t do Apple stuff, for a variety of reason, but those two are right at the top of the list.

    With that said, the iPad may actually spark some revival in comic book interest because of the format. That’s a Good Thing(r). However, not being able to trade or loan the content will undoubtedly suppress a lot of that interest. And that’s a Bad Thing(r). The platform will probably let a lot of unknown artists create new, potentially interesting content, which in my opinion is a Good Thing(r). (Some of that content will no doubt be pure shit, but that’s just the way life is, folks.)

    So, surprise, surprise- we can’t have it both ways. The likely result of that will be the creation of an iPad competitor that is unfettered and open (similar to Linux). That’s inevitable, and can only be a Good Thing(r).

  149. This article is an interesting perspective but there are plenty of people willing to trade the instant market place that the App Store brings for any limitations Apple might place on content. If you’re not one of those people then just wait for the first jail break of the iPad and proceed. To say that there is no innovation and creative energy going into iPad development is well – at least short sighted. I try all new technologies (that appear at least reasonable or interesting) but at the end of the day I derive most of my utility from people using the stuff I’ve created (Apps) and the more users the more utility. Every platform has constraints and limitations. It’s part of the game and to shun a potential new platform before it’s even released and you’ve seen how it’s going to fair makes no sense. (especially when there is such momentum behind it.) It’s like building a stock portfolio – you have to take risks to get rewards and I compare the pile potential gadgets (I have that are now collecting dust) that didn’t make to start-up stocks in my portfolio that augured in. Life requires taking some risk and being willing to make a mistake or two if you want to achieve your potential. See you guys in line tomorrow.

  150. Underlying the idea of using the iPad as an ebook reader is an assumption that people can and want to read content online (or on screen) in the same way as they read paper books and magazines.As a ebook reader, I think the iPad will fail in this regard.

    However, I think the iPad will still succeed, as people will find other ways to use it.

    I can see it being a huge success as a games console that also allows you to surf the web and run apps.

  151. The arrangement by which one develops for Apple devices would have been completely unacceptable to Gates, Woz and Jobs 30 years ago

  152. I don’t get this idea that Apple products are for consumption only, not for creation.

    Does that mean that every author, every musician, every graphic designer, etc. should know how to solder a mainboard or compile or kernel, or else he or she is unable to _create_ anything?

  153. “If you want to write code for a platform where the only thing that determines whether you’re going to succeed with it is whether your audience loves it, the iPad isn’t for you. ”

    Isn’t the point of writing code to solve a problem in a way that “the audience” loves? I mean, why would you write code that solved a problem in a really nasty to use way? If you did, nobody would use it and the problem would still be essentially unsolved.

    Also, hacking is really not the key to life. You can’t hack the iPad. Big deal. You can still hack unix/linux/the web/pcs/all kinds of other stuff. The fact that you can’t hack the iPad doesn’t mean that progress is going to stop.

  154. This from a site that has a banner ad that completely filled up my browser window when I opened the article.

    I guess I see this as the standard Apple way. Besides your reference to the Apple II+, I think, since the Mac, it’s been clear that Apple is the closed-source company compared to PC-based systems which are far more open. That’s fine, but its not what general consumers want.

    There is a small minority of non-potato people who love to hack the shit out of their stuff, but, frankly, I’d rather worry about building other things these days. I don’t like having to spend four hours in my XF86Config figuring out why my video card won’t output the resolution of my monitor.

    Anyway, whatever words we want to throw back and forth, it’s going to sell a ton. Most people are going to love it because most people don’t want computers, they want to do THINGS, and those things can be done with this slate of glass and aluminium.

    Besides, it will be jailbroken quick and you can do all sorts of shit with it.

  155. I suspect that the biggest problem that Cory has with the iPad is that it’s the epitome of everything he doesn’t believe in, and he knows it’s going to be successful regardless. So he views all this stuff as a personal attack on himself and his way of life, even to the point of insulting the rest of us.

    The biggest thing that he misses (or ignores), is that for the vast, vast majority of us, the political argument, the philosophy of ‘openness’, all this other stuff, it means less than nothing. His entire philosophy is tied up in this, between his writing and work with the EFF etc. For most of us, it’s about getting up in the morning, getting to work, trying to do what we do as best we can, and have a good time the rest of the time with our friends and loved ones.

    Anything that adds to the quality of our lives is appreciated, anything that detracts from it is reviled. That doesn’t mean we’re lazy, it just means we have different priorities.

    We are not ideologues. Cory is. That’s OK, the world needs starry-eyed idealists. I just wouldn’t take their advice about anything important.

    1. “We are not ideologues. Cory is. That’s OK, the world needs starry-eyed idealists. I just wouldn’t take their advice about anything important.”

      “We”?? who is ‘we’?

      And that last sentence is gold; what a bright future we must have waiting for us!

      Yes, it’s much, much better to shut-up and accept the way things are.

  156. Glue up tight—I never want to deal with what’s inside. Ever.

    That is not my job, I do not take pleasure in it, I want nothing to do with it, and it’s up to designers of product to ensure a reliable and elegant enough device that I am able to use the device and that I am not responsible for maintaining it.

    Technology moves forward, not backward.

    I wrote a longer retort on my blog here: http://mysticalforest.livejournal.com/1739239.html

    Meanwhile, I’m not quite clear on why there’s any amount of hostility toward a specific product or license when there are oodles of other products and agreements out in the world.

    There is a lot of choice. It’s a big world.

    Apple is not preventing anyone from selling anything. If anyone doesn’t like Apple’s terms they can sell according to someone else’s on a competing device, or with no terms by selling directly from themselves to any one of billions of computers on the planet.

  157. <sarcasm>Yes, I agree, totally, 100%, wholeheartedly. What we need are more devices that are so difficult to use that only those with Computer Science PHD’s can figure them out. I mean, those “timid, technophobic, scatterbrained mother”’s don’t deserve the honour of using a computer.

    And besides, letting every-man-and-his-dog put their custom apps on the iPad would be no problem if every-man-and-his-dog couldn’t use the damn device! I mean, no more fun, simple games clogging up the ecosystem when users can only afford the time to figure out serious, work applications.</sarcasm>

  158. The “Wal-Martization of the software channel” is my favorite new phrase.

    The music industry was almost killed by WalMart, Best Buy, and Target. When they became the biggest retailers of software, the average number of titles stocked at any given retail store dropped by a factor of 10. They almost killed the independent artist’s chance of ever being heard. They increased censorship. It had a terrible effect: the anti-long tail.

    Ironically, the music industry was saved (in part) by iTunes, which made it easy for independents to sell their music. (“Saved” is a strange word, since the record companies have fared horribly. But artists still have a way to get their music out, which is fantastic).

    But the App Store is much more WalMart than it is iTunes. Censorship? Check. Short tail? Check. Forced to give a crazy percentage to “the man?” Check.

  159. hmmmm…

    the iPad as the Antichrist Jr.! Feels a little bit like fanboy bait.

    I get your point, but even as a non-fanboy I will be purchasing an iPad guilt free. I will be reading BoingBoing on it. I’ll even come back and re-read this column (meta!)

    I for one, think there is a huge opportunity for rolling our own iPad content.

    Plenty of free apps will convert my non-DRM text files to the ePub format.

    It’s waiting for a free zine distribution revolution.

    And, having a searchable reference library of content I already own untethered from the net? Pretty useful to me.

    Who cares if Sony, Apple, Microsoft, Intel, The Borg, or Satan made it in a way that ruffles our feathers? Because the open devices don’t have the tools I need… I’ll work with the closed system until something better comes along.

    I also see the hardware as a fairly inexpensive way to experiment with recording and performing music. There are apps that give me 4 track recording, guitar tuning, sequencing, sampling and remixing capabilities at a fraction of the cost of a rack full of hardware gadgets.

    Amidst the clutter of positive reviews, I appreciate that you are putting an alternative view out there and explaining why the iPad is making you a little cranky.

  160. Thanks for the article, it was a great read.

    I have one point to bring up about the journalism section, though. I agree that the industry is looking for a “daddy figure”, but that’s because its problem is ad revenue and not circulation. An iPad app could boost readership, but what they’re really looking for is a new frontier in advertising. Maybe publishers are hoping to be able to fix declining ad sales with tablets, but judging by their initial clumsy reactions to the Internet, this seems unlikely. People want their content for free, or next to nothing, which is why advertising is so important in the industry. Maybe people will be willing to pay a premium for some content, but the very large majority of consumers will want their content for free. I understand that Apple keeps a portion of the profits for all of the apps, but will that really give consumers justification for paying over $200 a year for the Wall Street Journal?

  161. I read Cory’s post and I disagree with much of the sentiment. There’s a reason the Make Magazine multi-tool is called The Warranty Voider. You’ll be able to jailbreak the iPad, just like you can jailbreak the iPhone. Just don’t expect Apple tech support to have your back. If you want to crack it open–hardware or software–you have to do it with the understanding that if you break it, Apple isn’t going to put it back together for you for free. I don’t think that’s unreasonable on Apple’s part. We’ll provide this service, as long as you don’t fuck with shit. Cory wants to have his cake and eat it too.

  162. On the comic front:

    So to buy a comic from Marvel you have to do this :-

    Buy Ipad, buy service, buy app, buy comic

    Which a tiny number of people can do.

    As opposed to go to website, buy comic? Which is it possible for billions to do?

    How does that make any sense?

  163. I think the question of serviceability has more to do with the tool set and what people are used to than you think. An iPod is as serviceable as anything else assuming you have a spudger and some other little tools. Assuming you have to be able to use a screwdriver to open something overly limits things: I can’t change my car’s oil with just a screwdriver, yet I still consider my car fully user serviceable.

    It comes down to an evolution in the tools and mind set. Just like an early computer hacker might have had a good set of wire wrapping tools then they evolved to using soldering and desoldering equipment, the hard core hackers of today have SMD rework stations and various plastic and fiberglass tools.

    Rejecting something because it doesn’t use discreet, screwdriver level serviceable parts would limit you to Z80 level hardware. Surface mount, press fit cases, etc. are the future and they’re here to stay.

    A true anti-Maker move would be to have the case epoxied shut and chips glued into place. I’ve run into that, i.e. with an iOpener back in the day. There are still ways around that! ;-)

  164. Cory,

    What do you think of the ipad when you consider the inevitability of someone jailbreaking it just as has happened with the iphone. Certainly there are those out there who will love the hardware (ultimately all hardware is disposable and will eventually be superseded and replaced by newer superior hardware) but not like the terms they’ve been dealt and will change the terms to something more agreeable to them.

    I’m sure there will be ipad apps on Cydia appearing in the near future.

    1. Why is it inevitable that it will be jailbroken? The PS3 has been around for four years now and it’s still closed.

      1. Actually, until the most recently announced patch by Sony you could install Linux on your PS3. The US Airforce turned a room full of them into a supercomputer by installing it and there are quite a few individuals who did so as well. So PS3 wasn’t closed.

        My understanding is that there are people already working since it’s release to circumvent their patch as well.

  165. Apple is a cult, plain and simple. It has many loyal, unquestioning, indoctrinated followers. Those on the outside look at it and think it’s weird, and maybe a little scary. I’m not an affiliator, so I just do my best to avoid anything Apple. There are so many interesting alternatives for the free thinker.

    1. That is as ironic a comment as I have ever read about a company that dared to break away from the beige box view of computing. You no more have to choose Apple products as Bang & Olufsen, but only Apple gets called a cult. I’m sure that has a lot to do with a charismatic leader – but there’s no brainwashing here. Most Apple consumers are those convinced to try by earlier adopters, so called ‘switchers’. Most have never seen a keynote or tech blog.

      They try, they like. Or they walk away. No one grabs them and pulls them back into the store.

  166. It’s not infantilising my sixtysomething dad to say that stripping away the ‘using computers’ bit of using computers actually allows him to use a computer. It’s liberating him from UI metaphors and models of interaction that are barriers to access. He loves his grandkids’ Wii, because it’s not like ‘using a computer’; and the iPad is set to be much less of a consumption device than the Wii, and more of a potential interface to physical-world creativity that is not tied to the narrow domain of computing devices.

  167. Ding ding ding to the comment from RussNelson #144
    I won’t be buying a 1st-gen iPad either, but I am REALLY happy to see it come to market and I hope it succeeds brilliantly. I’ve been trying tablets for a few years and never found one that felt good to use or worked well, but I am convinced this form factor is a great idea. If Apple can bring one out that feels good and works well, it will be a huge clue to other companies that this is a worthwhile space to be in.

  168. Thank you for posting this … it echoes my sentiments almost exactly. As one of those “nerds” or “tinkerers” I have spent my life taking things apart, modifying, programming ect.!

    I find it troubling that Apple markets itself as superior “creative platform” while it locks the door and closes the blinds. I have a sneaking feeling that this is heralding a shift towards super-dumb-computing that essentially leaves all those confusing “options” out in favor of stuff that “just works”.

  169. Cory, I owe you one virtual beer. Thanks for such a well written, eloquent explanation of what Apple really is. I think they look at their customers in the same manner that PT Barnum did.

  170. I love OSX, but I agree with Cory on this. Not that I think it will do any good. The fact is that Jobs is the dictator we love to love. Consumers do not actually mind giving up their freedom.

    Look: you do not have to HOLD and PLAY AROUND with an Ipad to comment on the business model and tech specs provided by apple (although it actually would help if you had played with cocoa and written an iphone app before you comment on how open the platform is- it’s not).

    This is the companion piece to this article that you should read and think about: http://www.boingboing.net/2010/03/29/tim-oreilly-defines.html.

    I keep trying to put it more simply than Cory did in this article- and I can’t. Cory spelled out his concerns very clearly, and has been facing down strawmen and false dichotomies at an unprecedented level. I’m amazed that apple fans will complain about Microsofts’ evil empire, and cheer at Apples’. The power of marketing knows no bounds.

  171. “I believe — really believe — in the stirring words of the Maker Manifesto: if you can’t open it, you don’t own it. Screws not glue. The original Apple ][+ came with schematics for the circuit boards, and birthed a generation of hardware and software hackers who upended the world for the better.”

    Removing the main chip from your car will void your warranty on just about every car out there. Are you saying that you don’t own your car? Even turning a bolt in the engine area or undercarriage by a non-authorized mechanic of a high-end car, will void the warranty.

    You could tinker all you want with a Model-T, too. But do you really think there are user-servicable parts in a modern car? I would say the same thing for a device like an iPad, cellular phone, etc.

    In the latest major rev of iPhoto, Apple “closed” the iPhoto library (made it a package instead of a regular directory) because the *largest* number of support requests were from people who had messed up their iPhoto by moving images around in the iPhoto library.

    If everyone was responsible tinkerers, then maybe things would be more open. But over the years, I have come to learn that as much as we would like to believe it is for some nefarious reason that things are closed, it really boils down to product support. Because, well, the average user is going to break something if you give them the opportunity. And Cory, you are not an average user, so, of course, things like the iPad make you mad.

  172. Check out ExoPC Slate, it is suppose to be released in June. It is a Windows 7 based tablet that you can read any format of Ebook, you can upload your own applications and music for about the same price as the 32 GB IPAD. It is what I will probably buy instead of the Ipad. If I want an Apple device I will think about buying an a IPOD Touch, seeing that you get the same functionality but at a more portable size and at half the price.

  173. The garden has walls, and its groundskeepers are capricious. But you have to admit that it’s a really nice garden.

  174. It aint my kind of iPad if I can’t move around the furniture and invite whoever whenever for what the hell ever. Rename it iHotel-room-with-curfew.

  175. Oy, over 200 posts in 8 hours. I don’t know why I’m bothering to add my two cents into this mess, but here it goes anyway:

    Cory, you make a lot of poorly substantiated, borderline conspiracy-theory-esque points which make your opinion seem less valid, not more (We’ll have to replace the iPad battery in less than a year or two? Reviewers are lying about liking the iPad because they think it will save their industry?). I would avoid this sort of thing in the future, simply for the sake of making your point stronger. That said, I’m going to otherwise ignore these things, because I think your overall point is worthwhile and worth responding to.

    I agree with you on the principle and philosophy of supporting open systems. I love what the open source community has provided for me, and I love fostering the culture of taking apart and reassembling the world. I myself was a computer science major for a number of years (switched to acting later, weird I know), and I am all for giving individual engineers and designers as much power as possible. I love the way our modern technological landscape has allowed for that.

    That said, if Linux was as simple and enjoyable to use as a Mac, I would use Linux, but it isn’t, so I don’t. I disagree with your idea that when making purchases, abstract philosophical loyalty trumps real and immediate benefits. I should narrow that point down some. Obviously you don’t think philosophical loyalty always trumps pragmatic benefit, and I don’t think it never does. Just recently I emailed Ubisoft to let them know that I will not purchase Assassin’s Creed 2 until they change their DRM implementation, and I won’t. I feel that the minimal benefit I get from a fun game (though I do want it) doesn’t outweigh my concerns about the expansion of DRM.

    However, I think the iPad is a device that will serve many people (myself included) very well. Can I open it up? No, but I rarely need to do that anyway. Is it proprietary? In some ways, very much so. There is no USB, just one (patented) Dock port, Apple’s software controls all the loading and offloading on the device, etc etc. However, at the same time, I think it’s clear that the App store has proven to be a huge boon for independent developers. While it is true that Apple screens every App coming in, it’s also true that they approve almost all of them, and provide their developers with a bevy of advanced tools for a very low price. They always have. Where else will you see independent games created by single engineers sold along side titles from giants like EA? If I cracked open my old CS books, I could personally program an app and get it on the App store. I never will, and if I did it would be a terrible app, but the possibility is exciting none the less.

    Overall, yes, the iPad is a closed device, but a very useful, thoughtfully designed one, that respects the experience of the customer to the utmost degree. Apple has always made the customer experience their primary selling point, and the iPad is no different. I believe in supporting open systems, but I also believe in buying products that deliver the goods. In this case, I think that functionality trumps the philosophical points. You disagree with me though, and that’s fine. It is still a free country after all.

  176. Slight correct, slappy. Flash and its amazing community of artists and developers have succeeded in producing annoying banner ads that I don’t see anymore thanks to ClickToFlash.

    1. at least with flash you have that option. How are you going to turn off the slew of bad html5-based banner ads that are coming your way?

      Who do you think pays for sites like this anyway? Surely not advertisers that would do anything to grab your attention.

      1. >”at least with flash you have that option. How are you going to turn off the slew of bad html5-based banner ads that are coming your way?”
        Uh, with a custom stylesheet, or user script? Click-to-canvas/video is one line of Javascript. And far, far easier than getting the same effect for flash. Come on, man, that was weak. Flash might have some merits, but “easy to disable” is not one of them.

        1. I disagree with you about whether HTML5 ads are easier to disable than Flash ads.

          Let’s first assume you’re talking about a general purpose computer. No mobile browser will let you throw in a custom stylesheet.

          Now, we have a page written in HTML5 that contains two ads. One is in Flash, the other is not. It also has other HTML5 content, some of which uses the canvas. We both know how to get rid of the Flash ad; use an ad blocker or a Flash blocker, tools that are already pretty common. If you’re in a particularly bad mood, you can disable the Flash plugin entirely.

          But how do you disable markup, if it’s indistinguishable from site content? Remember that the canvas is a “blitting” surface; all an ad has to do is have one instant to clear the canvas, draw an ad and maybe place a click event before an HTML5 ad blocker could peel it off the DOM. The damage would be done.

          There’s also very little incentive for technologists to invent ways to distinguish normal content from ad content. Apart from the semantic web, anyone else who’s serving web content to you wants you to look at those ads.

  177. Cory, it seems to me that you’ve become a bit of a luddite. I’ve designed special purpose integrated circuits, and what you’re asking for is a return to simpler times, when chips didn’t have billions of transistors on them and require multimillion dollar efforts to design and mass produce. You really can’t have everything. If you want light, small and low power devices that are state of the art, then they are going to be incredibly complex at their lowest levels. You can’t tinker with the components when the whole system is on a single minimally-sized chip — useful tinkering has to move up to a higher level. It’s like biological evolution: after a certain point, you stop changing the genetic code and all the experimentation happens in the way you use it. Software may be less visceral than hardware, but that’s where individuals get to play today.

    I would also argue that those who claim that the iPhone family isn’t open for individual software experimentation are to some extent confusing free beer with freedom. Being able to develop and install code costs $99/year, but all development tools are free, so that’s the entire cost. Like all hacking, almost all of the _real_ cost is the effort needed to figure out how the thing works and how to make it do interesting tricks.

    Finally, it seems to me that you deliberately ignore the central role that Apple has played in eliminating DRM for music. As long as Apple makes most of its money from hardware and not software, it is in their interest to fight agains big-media restrictions on use of content (and to promote software competition on their devices). If you can put free content on your iPad, this helps Apple sell a gazillion. Their main constraint is to make sure there’s a viable market to keep making more content, and to avoid letting bad and malicious software from ruining things. They constantly try to convince media companies to allow more freedom, since that translates directly into more free value add for their devices, and more dollars in their coffers.

    1. Well said on all three points Norm. I couldn’t agree more. There is a lot that is closed about the iPad and a lot to dislike about it and Apple, but Apple and the iPad’s role in all of this is a lot more nuanced than “iPad closed, Apple bad, grrrrrr.” (Not to oversimplify your objections Cory).

  178. Can’t wait to get mine. Unfortunately, I have to pay my government extortion fees on April 15th first.

  179. I have to disagree with this statement, which is the thrust of this whole piece:

    The real issue isn’t the capabilities of the piece of plastic you unwrap today, but the technical and social infrastructure that accompanies it.

    The technical capabilities are what it’s about for many, many people.

    I love my Nexus One, but a lot of people who have iPhones or iPods will be blown away by looking at it for two seconds. Then they always ask, “will it work with my iTunes?”

    And the answer is no, not really. There are work arounds for your music library, but the Nexus One is perfect for people who want a cloud-based existence on a great browser-app phone, but isn’t great for people who want a smart phone that doubles as a media player and multi-media manager.

    There are bigger reasons to not get the iPad. Like, all these streaming deals with TV networks and Netflix sound great until you realize that it’s for a WiFi-only device.

    Ever try to use your laptop at Starbucks? Slow, horrible WiFi. Now add a bunch of people watching TV at Starbucks on the same slow WiFi.

    Or, in a few months, On that AT&T network. It hurts just thinking of it.

    These are better reasons not to get an iPad. It’s really great for watching video, but not most of the web video that’s around, and the services that are free like TV or included with your Netflix subscription aren’t downloadable, but streaming only.

    I love Netflix, but on my Mac I was able to spoof an IP address to watch movies when I worked in Mexico for a month. You can’t do that on the iPad.

    I bet the Netflix and TV deals are US dependent, so it’s not nearly as good as a hand held video device if you travel out of the country.

  180. I think most of the responders here are entirely missing the point.

    Corey isn’t lamenting the iPad’s simplicity. He’s upset because Apple has left out of this device the ability to go from a user who consumes the iPad and its content to one who configures it.

    I don’t think anyone disagrees about the iPad’s technical excellence, and Apple’s ability to create amazing hardware and software. This is a discussion about Apple’s policy, which was made public a long time ago. We don’t have to wait to talk about it.

    If you have a friend or family member who is frustrated by their current solution for accessing digital content, then I’m sure the iPad will be a huge improvement for them.

    But platforms like the iPad– and companies like Apple– cannot even EXIST without developers, and developers must come from somewhere. Isn’t it a bad idea to lock in tomorrow’s developers? If the iPad becomes immensely popular, young people today may completely overlook general purpose computers, with their ability to write software. The job of educating developers would fall on the shoulders of existing programmers, and the promise of the personal computing revolution would be almost gone.

    The same argument applies to Corey’s comic book aficionados. If the iPad has immense market share, might people overlook the ability in the past to share comics? Will the simple act of sharing be regarded as a privilege?

    So while the title of his post may sound bossy– “…and think you shouldn’t either”– Doctorow’s concerns truly are realized by the iPad’s success under its current policy. If you buy an iPad, you’re not doing anything wrong. But if enough people buy iPads, Apple’s policies will be “validated” by the invisible hand of the market. They’ll continue to produce products with these problems, and we will be hurt, whether we acknowledge it or not.

  181. If a person wants their child to grow up to be confident, entrepreneurial, and firmly in the camp that believes that she should forever be rearranging the world to make it better, then that person should strive to raise her with those morals in mind. If one’s parenting is so reliant on a device (such as an Apple ][+) that it could have such a monumental impact, then perhaps the problem isn’t with the choice of devices.

    If you object to the iPad (my opinion has not yet congealed, but I doubt I would buy one) then don’t buy it, for yourself or your child. If your child desperately wants one, you could use it as an illustration that everything in life has its pros and cons. Explain to her why you object to the iPad and its ramifications, and if you have raised her right she will respect and consider your opinion. She may not agree with you, but she will add your input to develop a broader perspective.

    That’s what I have done.

  182. “If you can’t open it, you don’t own it” – this is a pretty weak manifesto (slogan, philosophy?). You can’t “open” anything about a computer (any modern computer) except the box it comes in. For the iPad, that’s the actual cardboard box it comes in, with one big part inside that’s not user-serviceable. For a laptop or desktop PC, that box moves one level down – it’s the metal rectangle inside which all the actual electronics lives. Sure, you take the cover off and there’s a hard drive and CPU and video card and network card and whatever else inside there. You can’t open any of that stuff. Solid-state electronics are inherently un-openable. you own a box but none of the actual working parts based on that manifesto, so what does that mean? How is that even supposed to apply to certain things (say, an engine block, or a sculpture)?

    Sure, we know you want everything to be open (in the philosophical sense), and there are some good open products out there, but there are also some closed products out there that from a purely pragmatic viewpoint work better than their open alternatives for a lot of people.

    I use a variety of both open and closed solutions for various things, because it works well for me. In a practical sense, even if everything I owned was completely open, I would never actually open 95% of it, so except for a philosophical high ground, I gain nothing from openness for many products (say, my microwave, or my shoes — what would an open shoe look like?). And then in other situations I do gain from the openness — I have a custom patched version of Xfce on a linux box that works a bit differently from standard, in a way I like more, but if I wasn’t a software developer, I wouldn’t have gained from that openness, either.

    Some of us care more about pragmatic concerns than philosophical ones.

    1. Absolutely the whole “I can hack it” argument is a load of crap. A modern computer is three things: a CPU, an operating system, and a display. Of those three things only one is modifiable in any meaningful way.

      No commercial OS maker wants you to do that, but none of them can stop you form doing it either.

      The iPhone is, has been, and will be hacked all to hell and gone nearly since the day it arrived. So, too, with the iPad.

      If the company that makes the product *wants* me to open it up and fiddle with then it’s hardly hacking is it? It’s like those nerds who build model kits. If that is your thing, great, but let’s not pretend you created anything.

      If you aren’t breaking any rules to do the hacking, what’s the point?

      1. “If you aren’t breaking any rules to do the hacking, what’s the point?”

        Improving your understanding of the machine, and/or getting it to do something really cool that it didn’t do before. Intellectual vandalism isn’t nearly as cool as bringing something interesting and useful into existence.

  183. I publish a webcomic in Flash. There’s no other way to show it that will work on the iPad, except maybe to republish each comic in Quicktime. Then redirect iPad users to a different part of my website. What a pain, I’ll pass on that.

    1. Hey, I clicked on your webcomic. You say I won’t be able to access that on my new iPad?

      Wow, gutted. No truly.

    2. Demonstrably untrue. You don’t have anything there but a simple manual JPG slideshow that could be done in HTML 1. You don’t have any animations or interactivity, and nothing that looks like it’s using any Flash at all.

      Why do you even bother using Flash?

      Your statement plus the truth of what your comic is is the poster child for the argument that people needlessly require a plugin where none is *clearly* required. You’re part of a problem, not a solution.

      1. Oh sure, I *could* do it as a slideshow but what a pain that would be too. Using Flash I have a single 45KB file to upload and put in place. Each comic is about 20 panels.

        If it were done as a slideshow I would have to manage 20 different files, the sum total of which would be much larger than 45KB. And, since it’s NOT a JPG slideshow, but text with images, so the text is SEO friendly, I’d have to manage the CSS of the text on each slide.

        And, the better way to do all that is with either MooTools or JQuery, so even more files to manage. Unless I’m really missing something, I don’t see anything even close to being as good as Flash for what I’m doing.

        1. You just explained why you can’t be bothered to put your web comic online in a perfectly acceptable format that everyone who goes on the internet can use without having to download the proprietory Flash program.

          Which is why I will never read your site. Flash is not necessary for your content. Why should I have to download a specialty program in order to see your site? You must have a huge readership to be able to turn up your nose at web traffic.

          1. I understand your point about not wanting to install Flash. But from my position as a somewhat novice content producer, Flash is a lot like the Apple mindset. It just works. Setting up my webcomic as a slideshow with dozens of files for each comic is just not workable when I’m trying to update three times a week.

            And no, I don’t want to blow off all the iPad traffic, I’m actually very concerned. It’s frustrating that all the discussion about Flash is either about video or ads when there are a lot of other applications where it’s a great tool. I’m hoping that either Apple relents, or that the workaround in CS5 is viable.

          2. Flash isn’t a special, proprietary program. Yes, it’s developed by Adobe, but it makes certain types of web development incredibly cheap and easy (did you know you can develop Flash apps without buying Flash software?). More to the point, it will be bundled with Chrome, and takes all of two seconds to install. How is it different from Java?

  184. Yeah. I won’t buy one of these.

    The economy is still in the sh-ts we can actually make a difference by boycotting these companies and telling them why.

  185. The problem I have with this article (and many of the comments) is that it (and they) set up a false dichotomy between Makers and Consumers. I, at least, am both. (Consumaker? Makonsumer?)

    I can use an iPad (eventually…) to consume content (and since I’ll have open access to the Web via Safari, this is essentially unlimited and unwalled content).

    I can use a laptop to write any program I want that will run on that iPad. It’s not guaranteed that I’ll be able to distribute the application via the App Store, but if I want to hack it for my own purposes, I can. (And I can even distribute the source code via other channels for other Consumakers.) Do I have to pay more to be able to do this? Yes. Does that suck? Kinda. But I can hack it if I want to. (Or wait for it to be rooted; I’m not bad-ass enough to participate in the rooting efforts, tho.)

    Or I can write web applications. There’re a whole lot of things that don’t exist yet. No, I don’t have complete access; I’m okay with that, because I can trapdoor into the above (I can write anything that can run on the device), if I want.

    Or, if I’m feeling really makerish, I can go buy some bits and build an arduino gadget. I think this is really the modern-day equivalent of the Apple II Cory talks about. (And comparatively, it’s cheap.)

    I guess it’s really this: I don’t buy the slippery-slope argument. People will hack things and people will make things regardless of what Apple does.

  186. Cory, I think you just may have hit a nerve or two, judging from the bazillian comments!

    Not one of the traditional PC makers has found a way to sell more than a few tablet computers in over a decade of trying. and they have REALLY tried. Will Apple be able to succeed (defined as: make money producing a product that its owners actually like) where the others did not? Probably, because this is exactly what Apple excels at: taking a niche product with a lot of “potential” (kiss-of-death term) and running with it. So far, they did it with MP3 players and smartphones. We might even mention personal computers, while we’re at it. A key skill in accomplishing this historically is their willingness to throw out whatever rulebook they other players insist on. The resulting product is something unexpected. A product that don’t fit the established categories, and really annoys people who had a specific expectation, usually based on the failed products that existed before. And by “failed”, I mean did NOT make the seller any money and/or did NOT please the owner – wound up in a drawer instead of being used daily, perhaps.

    Apple is a big American corporation, so, sure, it has all the usual vices, but it also has some unique virtues. I’m looking forward to seeing what they have produced in the iPad. I bet a LOT of people will like it.

    1. “Cory, I think you just may have hit a nerve or two, judging from the bazillian comments!”

      Might have something to do with that whole paragraph of hideous insults aimed at anyone who doesn’t want to write their own software.

  187. I wish some of the commenters here would keep in mind that Cory is not arguing that the iPad isn’t fun/useful/easy/dependable and that he isn’t arguing that buying or using an iPad is immoral. He’s making a futurist argument. The argument is: this takes us further down the road towards X, and is that a road we really want to go down?

  188. I think it’s funny so many people blame Apple for not putting Flash on here, instead of blaming Adobe for making such a buggy POS runtime for OSX.

    Sounds to me like Adobe’s the one that left you out in the cold, not Apple.

  189. I was disappointed by Xeni’s coverage, but reassured myself by saying “BB oozed all over the iPhone until the glamor wore off: it’ll be the same here”.

    I’m happy – and surprised – to see Cory restoring the balance even before that point. I seem to remember (but may be misremembering) that he was, back a ways, really enthusiastic about the iPhone. But his attitude’s matured about the whole closedness of it over the last year or so.

  190. I’m not a maker, so I couldn’t relate to Cory’s overall thrust or passion, for that matter. He made a really good point though, I thought, about comic books. Trading, sharing and all of that is a huge part of what comic books are all about, obviously, and for all or most of that to be sent to digital prison seems unfortunate. It’ll just push people to do their own thing all the more — to write, to draw, etc,. so I’m not all that worried about it.

    I will say, however, that I have serious doubts about the ipad becoming a huge success. The main reason is one that I think is generally overlooked: it would be cumbersome. Though laptops are bigger, heavy, and bulkier, they fit right on your lap. IT’s comfortable. You use it when you need to, but otherwise you use your iphone. The ipad would be difficult to work with while laying in bed. It would be difficult to work with while going to class. You could lug around a stand and a keyboard, but this kind of defeats the overall point.

    Another thing. Undoubtedly this thing is going to be fragile. I wonder how many times you’ll be able to drop your Ipad? Given the fact that it is heavier and bulkier, I’m going to guess that this is going to happen frequently.

    I could go on. I’m going to predict underwhelming success for this device. It has too many things working against it.

  191. You have a new reader because of this article.

    The last few days I have found that I am awash in the putrid “journalism” that exists today when it comes to Apple and this over-hyped and incredibly limited “device”. This simply is not a computer, it is something that was created for mindless people who do nothing but consume without thought or logic. A consumer device for a consumer society and limited by those that feel their ideology superior and profit margins more important than to give a person something with choices.

    With honest commentary and people ready to go against the grain (if that is what they see as truth and with logical analysis), perhaps I have found an oasis in the filth that is published around the web these days (which consists of mindless idol worship and inane “fanboyism”).

    May the force be with you (and you know….things like a brain to think with and the ability to look at something without pre-conceived notions, sheep mentality, and/or mindless idolatry).

    Thank you for your analysis and intelligent article Corey.

    1. This simply is not a computer, it is something that was created for mindless people who do nothing but consume without thought or logic.

      So is a book or a DVD or a Kindle or an MP3 player or a television set. (OK, I suppose you could doodle in the margins of a book but most people just read them.)

      I hope you don’t think anyone who owns any of these things is a “mindless person who does nothing but consume without thought or logic” just because they sometimes choose to use a device that is well-designed for a specialized purpose.

      1. You may be Mensa, but that is not my point. Beyond the following things (which were also mentioned in my post)…

        A) Journalistic integrity (of which several other blogs lack entirely).

        B) Commendation of someone who, based on an honest/logical assessment, has decided to go against the grain.

        …my post, which are my opinions of course, mentioned that this is not a computer and that it was created for mindless consumers. Let me explain…

        In my opinion, a computer should only be limited by today’s technology and the imagination of those who use it. This device obviously does not meet any of that criteria.

        It is also my opinion that this was created specifically for consumers and for the mindless consumption of media (i.e. mindless consumers).

        Why do I say “mindless”? Because the “options” (lack thereof) that Apple are providing are based on profit margins, power, and the benefit of big business in general. It is not based on *you* at all.

        I guarantee you that I will be able to “consume” anything I want for free on a real computer, but you will never be able to do so for free on this device. And by free, I do not mean illegal.

        There is nothing wrong with being a consumer, we all are consumers at some point and to some extent, however, do not let any company tell you “how” you will consume, “where” you will consume, “why” you will consume, and for “what” price you will consume. If you do, you are truly mindless….regardless of your real IQ.

    2. I like how kaffeen talked about free thinking and how bad fanboyism is, and then summed it all up by quoting a trademark of 20th Century Fox!

      We all choose which products to support with our patronage. It isn’t bad to buy a self contained, copyright and trademark protected product that is owned by a corporation. It’s only bad when the product doesn’t fit our needs. The iPad obviously fits a need. Maybe not for everyone, but for a lot of people.

      1. I like how kaffeen talked about free thinking and how bad fanboyism is, and then summed it all up by quoting a trademark of 20th Century Fox!

        You mean kaffeen’s “Thank you for your analysis and intelligent article Cory”?

        Oh, you mean “The Force”! Well, that’s also a part of a religion in the UK now. Interesting the uses to which people will put ideas that enter their lives.

        It isn’t bad to buy a self contained, copyright and trademark protected product that is owned by a corporation. [Emphasis mine]

        Actually, Cory’s clear stance that it is bad to “buy” something that remains “owned” by somebody else. They ought to call it leasing, and it feels very sneaky that they do not. Also, ceding any control over this kind of communicative power by the vast majority of people could only appeal to those who would benefit, say, an elite that only wants their voices heard, and to require everyone else pay for the privilege.

        That Steve Jobs has a talent for being such a “Decider”. I remember when my iPhone couldn’t even cut and paste, until someone realized that this denial would lose them market share. What fixes are we not going to so easily discover that we have been denied? This is Cory’s stance, and I support it for those reasons.

        If I have time later after I read a script I’ve been handed, I hope to point out in more detail some actual focusing on strategy that Cory doesn’t seem to address here. Short take: The comments here show that the iPad Will Be Successful, boycotts or no. Those displeased with its darker potentials against liberty should immediately start working outwards from there.

    3. Heaping scorn or insults on a whole group of people based on what product they choose to buy is hardly an example of “looking at something without preconceived notions.” A hater may be the polar opposite of a fanboi, but they are just as mindless. A hater is still a sheep – they just bleat in a different flock.

  192. I agree with what you say Cory, especially about openness, but I will still buy one if for nothing else, it does (from all accounts) what I need it to do now (use on a plane, for one). I use a Droid, not an iPhone. I use both a Zune and an iPod Touch, both of which do well with the media I import into them. When an Android “slate”, or any other Pad-like device is pushed into the market and works well, I will probably buy them. So far, I am unimpressed with them. Who is to blame for that? It seems we all know what we do not like about the iPad, and there is plenty to dislike, but who is doing a better job? I look forward to a better product. – Lester

  193. I’m curious what Cory’s response would be to someone who reviewed his newest book (without having read it, of course) with the title: “Why I won’t buy Makers (and think you shouldn’t, either)”.

    Just a thought. ;)

    1. Apparently you don’t realize that his “review” said nothing of how the product actually worked. His reasons for not buying one are all COMPLETELY valid.

  194. I like how none of these points address the way I’ll be using my iPad on Saturday. I have absolutely no interest in taking the damn thing apart or swapping parts. I don’t buy DRM protected videos and music off the iTunes store. I won’t be using it to read Marvel comics. I don’t plan to be playing Santa giving away stuff. I don’t care if a corporation made it. And a million programs to do the same thing isn’t better for me than one program that does what I want it to.

    What I will be doing is surfing the web and checking email without being tethered to my desk or having to lug around a laptop. I’ll be watching videos and listening to music that I ripped from my own DVDs and CDs free and clear of DRM. I’ll be looking at my photos in the field as I shoot them on a good sized display, not just the little square on the back of the camera. And I’ll be reading thousands of public domain golden age comic books and novels that I downloaded for free off the internet.

    I don’t want a complicated Swiss Army Knife designed to do a bunch of things that I don’t want to do. I appreciate a tool that precisely fits the specific purpose I need it for. Convenience counts. I’m betting the iPad will open up new possibilities for me by streamlining the things I do. My iPhone did for me that a couple of years ago, and my Macintoshes have done that for me for decades. Call me an Apple fanboy if you want, but all I care about is how well the tool works for me.

  195. I’mma just gonna say that Hypercard is a weird analogy since it was Apple only and $49 buck or so til it was discontinued in 2004. There was a whole period of time when hypercard stacks were just relegated to the dustpile. Now there are a lot of free viewers, etc out there now, but those were, afaik reverse engineered.

    I could imagine that some android peeps may figure out how to reverse engineer the app logic, such that people can run iPhone/iPod apps on non-apple devices.

    Apple got the headstart on this one. The apps are better. I use Linux daily, but… I cant argue with the UI and cheap apps idea. I don’t care that my phone is about as open as a Wii… I don’t want to root my phone. I want it to be as close to stock as possible, so that when I drop it off a building I can replace it quickly, without having to spend 3 hours in a room with a coffee remembering how I rooted it in the first place.

    That said I’m interested to see how iPhone/iPad OS 4.0 stacks up against the next generation android os.

    Sadly Oblomovka is down, cause I like the MPC (MPC2) analogy. Some great things came out in those days… the original Myst (originally a hypercard stack), Microsoft Encarta… etc.

  196. I’m gobsmacked at the passion around this buy/don’t buy an iPad issue. You like something, you buy it. Don’t like, don’t buy.

    That happy rule applies to so many things I can think of — banana splits, newspapers, four-blade razors, edible underpants …

    Why does my reason to buy (or not buy) a thing need to be argued as any more or less righteous than anyone else’s reason? It’s a choice, and we are all free.

    This isn’t a rhetorical question.

    1. “I’m gobsmacked at the passion around this buy/don’t buy an iPad issue. You like something, you buy it. Don’t like, don’t buy.”

      It doesn’t seem that too many people are telling others to buy an iPad. The hyperbolic references to the mafia and gulags and the end of free speech and what have you all seem to be coming from one direction. Oh well.

  197. One of the nicest aspects of the Apple desktop experience is the developer community and the really great apps that come out of it. I’ve said several times that Apple should keep in mind that when MS, Corel and co., bailed or was kept from bailing by agreement, it was the devs that really added value to the platform. This is much the case with the iPod/Phone/Pad, but the restrictions are draconian and sad.

    Infantalizing hardware
    Then there’s the device itself: clearly there’s a lot of thoughtfulness and smarts that went into the design. But there’s also a palpable contempt for the owner. I believe — really believe — in the stirring words of the Maker Manifesto: if you can’t open it, you don’t own it. Screws not glue. The original Apple ][+ came with schematics for the circuit boards, and birthed a generation of hardware and software hackers who upended the world for the better. If you wanted your kid to grow up to be a confident, entrepreneurial, and firmly in the camp that believes that you should forever be rearranging the world to make it better, you bought her an Apple ][+.

    Nothing could be more true. This is one of the reasons I am such a staunch supporter of Android. When people talk about freedom of speech, that’s how I see code because in the end IT’S ALL WORDS. When you look at the number of changes Apple has undergone from its OS, to the underlying micro-architecture and even business models, its hard to believe a company that could be so bold in charting its own course, could be so restricting and insulting to consumers. I remember back when Apple’s financials were vastly different and every day brought ten articles about Apple’s impending demise. What did Apple do while bleeding red? They increased the R&D budget and started a dialogue with its developer community that in my opinion is what has revolutionized the consumption of code.

    Apple educated its developers about the importance of usability, aesthetics and their importance in creating a consistent experience and an intuitive understanding of use. Not only is this the primary reason why apps on Apple hardware tend to look better than anywhere else, but its hard not to see Apple’s influence in Social Media and even the look of Web 2.0 (I know. Please forgive me.).

    Apple which contributes a lot good, has pointed the way. It doesn’t matter that they fail in their reasoning, because we all make mistakes. As the US invented the internet and is increasingly ceding leadership and innovation of said creation to others around the world, Apple would do well to remember that as they move to marginalize hardware, by relying more heavily on the apps, their own hardware is first to be marginalized. As we race to the cloud it is conceivable that one day the power passes from the hardware maker and the app store keeper to the “in” social content creator of the day. If they just happen to be anti-Apple or anyone else, it may not make an appreciable difference at first, but it will be the beginning of a new revolution.

  198. I’d like to start with the fact that I have a great deal of respect for Cory and his views on copyright and digital rights. I’ve followed BB for years now and it is among my favorite sites.

    Here’s where I agree with Cory:

    a) The Wal-martization of the retail channel. I don’t like that Apple has control over what does and does not make it into their store. There are a lot of benefits to this control, of course, but there are lot of disadvantages.

    b) Gadgets come and gadgets go: true true and I am a sucker for them. I can’t help it. At least, I try to mitigate my impact by not disposing of them but rather giving them to other people (hand me downs), donating or selling.

    Here’s where I completely disagree with Cory, and it falls mostly in the “Infantilizing of Technology” area:

    a) many people get enjoyment from tinkering with, figuring out and disassembling things. I know I do. I also know that many more people are the exact opposite. They just want things to work. They have no patience with configuring preferences, dealing with the idiosyncracies of an overly complex device. The iPad is that device. Even people like me who like to mess with things, occasionally like to have a device where the design, function and capabilities flow neatly and without need for my intervention. My Mac desktop, laptop, iMac and mini require a lot of fiddling to keep up and running and on the network. My TV does not.

    b) Your contention that the iPad represents a wholesale move from the tinkering mentality to the pre-packaged, human-as-passive-consumer mentality is flawed. The iPad (and what will come after it) are not ever going to replace all modes of computing. There will always be those who prefer the more adaptable, adjustable device that can be tinkered with. I drive a BMW. It works wonderfully. I don’t have the skills, nor the desire to tinker under its hood. Even if I had the skills, there are probably proprietary elements in its design that make it nearly impossible for me to tinker with. Yet, people continue to tinker with cars. Still, many more do not.

    c) You and me, Cory, we’re geeks. Let’s face it. Based on this statement: “I am typing this on an Ubuntu Thinkpad, tethered to a rooted NexusOne.” I think you have me beat. Geeks, like other linear thinkers such as scientists and engineers are a unique species of human being. They are not like everyone else. They are determined, obsessive, rational, perfectionists and desiring to control or understand everything around them. At least I am. This is a unique skill without which humanity would not have achieved many of our greatest accomplishments. Still, this personality type is in the minority. There are many other personality types that are equally important to our society. You can’t just believe everyone is going to look at the world the way you or I do. I gave this up a long time ago because in all honesty, only a small handful of my friends and colleagues are “geeks” The iPad is for people who don’t necessarily think like you or I do. Although I will be picking mine up tomorrow, for certain.

    d) Lastly, I think your contention that the Marvel Comics app ruins the comic book experience is misplaced. Its more that digital media in general is ruining parts of the media experience. Flipping through a comic book, holding it in your hand, keeping it on your shelf, lending it to someone are part of the physical experience. Once it becomes digital, it loses the texture and sensual qualities of the physical. I can understand why Marvel is nervous that people will just copy and email each other the comic books. I think, in the app ecosystem, they could have designed a system where they can lend someone a comic book temporarily or something that allows sharing without a widespread dissemination. Because, let’s face it, you take off the DRM and they pretty much lose their business model.

    Just some thoughts.

  199. I will revisit these comments in, oh, say 6 months or so (on my iPad, of course) and delight in all the predictions of the device’s failure and “underwhelming success.” Then, in a couple of years, I will laugh out loud as I read the hilarious Boing Boing collection of “Silly Predictions of iPad Failure” while sitting in a café where everyone and his mother is reading the same article on either an gen. 3 iPad or one of the hundreds of knockoffs it will inspire.

    Remember how the nerds went nuts when Steve ditched the floppy drive in the candy-colored iMacs? And how funny that seems now?

    1. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. So, now you’re going to carry around with you an Iphone, a laptop, and an Ipad? If the Ipad doesn’t replace one of these two devices, I doubt people are going to add it. And I don’t think the Ipad is going to replace either of these two devices. People aren’t going to answer their Ipad as they would a phone, heck, I doubt they’re even going to use a lot of the apps on it given the poor quality resolution. I also think that Apple made a misstep by not supporting Flash. I wouldn’t even use it to surf the web with (that’s just annoying).

      As mentioned, even though it is small, light, and powerful, it’s still about form factor. I could not use it as I’m using this right now to type out an email as comfortably, and I wouldn’t look forward to carrying around a keyboard and a stand.

      It will be a success, but I highly doubt that it will become as ubiquitous as an Iphone. I HIGHLY doubt that. I won’t laugh at you if it turns out you’re wrong, but I’m pretty sure you are.

      1. So, now you’re going to carry around with you an Iphone, a laptop, and an Ipad? If the Ipad doesn’t replace one of these two devices

        For me, the iPad will pretty much replace my Macbook. As long as I can do all my internet browsing and email, and I can type on it and lay out pages, my laptop is fine to stay at home plugged into a monitor and power source. My iPhone will still be used about the same, because it’s really too small to do serious web browsing.

        What I gain that neither my Macbook, nor my iPhone can do is 10 hours of video viewing at a decent screen size. Nothing else can give me that in such a compact package.

  200. Wow, I 100% disagree with this argument. By Cory’s logic no one should eat out because the Chef won’t let you come back to the kitchen and cook your own food. No one should go to an NFL game because the league won’t let you & your friends play against the Packers on Monday Night Football. There are rules everywhere. Does that mean we should shun everything that doesn’t let us do whatever the heck we want?

    I understand, though, that techies like to rip things apart and see how they work or change how they work. But what about the other 99% of the population? I have zero desire to mess with my Mac or iPhone. Why? Because it already works! I buy Apple because I know I’ll get a product that does what I want and will keep doing so for a long time.

    If you have to have total freedom to screw anything up you want then no, you shouldn’t buy an iPad. But for those of us that just want something that works, and works well, then the iPad is for us.


  201. As always, a well-thought-out and passionately (and eloquently) argued stance.

    But (did you hear the but coming?): When I bought an iPhone, I didn’t put away my laptop. In fact, that iPhone renewed my interest in coding.

    And in spite of its sealed nature, I found ways to open it (and reasons to).

    If it (and iPad) had tiny little screws holding it together, well, that would make things easier. But as they are, things are not impossible; it doesn’t bother me to have to use a different kind of tool to open up this little box.

    Neither iPhone nor iPad is the replacement for the computer that a lot of folks like to predict it will be. But I have reason to believe that each, in its own way, is a better-designed tool for doing some of the things that I currently have to do less well using a computer. These things are not computer replacements; they are computer peripherals.

  202. Hackers know what this device could be, and they are frustrated. They should look away instead of gritting their teeth. It’s not your laptop, the end. It’s a big Nintendo DS that happens to flirt with the rest of your world (that analogy is not as far as you think, it’s ARM architecture). It will never run a compiler or Final Cut, nor should it, because it has a beefed cell phone processor. I think Cory’s energy in this piece is aimed squarely at the possibility iPhone OS / iTMS ecosystem constraints becoming standard in future devices ad nauseam. Another frustration is that lots and lots of people will confuse this as a primary computing option and that’s not the case. Do not buy a laptop in lieu of an iPad unless you’re slow or rich. Creatives are not in danger of their world disappearing. There will always be other platforms.

    1. Why do you think it will never run a compiler? It’s about on par with desktop hardware from 6 years ago, or laptop tech from 3-4 years ago. Maybe someone will port Hypercard to it.

  203. “Did you think that access to a platform where you can make a fortune would come without strings attached?”

    I wonder if that person likes the giant collection of leads known as ‘Society’ but objects to paying taxes.

  204. Roger! I’d sum up the failure with 4 points:
    1. It should’ve gone beyond a laptop/tablet in features but doesnt
    2. The odd shape- cant fit into my pocket nor carry it sideways like a laptop
    3. The “closed” evil ways of Apple. No versatility (again-Apple approved apps only!), no expansion slots
    4. Why do I really need it if I already have sleek CPU-based laptop and a PDA?

  205. I’ve always been kinda wary of mobile tech ever since Sony invented the Walkman to be honest.
    Being so totally submerged into a secundary experience supplied by a device in a public place reeked after escapism from my point view.
    And that extends to the bedroom, and the kitchen.
    I know I’ll be regarded as somekind of relic, but I kind of prefer things to have their place.
    I don’t want to check my e-mail in the bedroom, just as much as I don’t want to sleep in the subway.
    My computer experience has a place and a time.
    And my ‘being in the world with awareness’ has a place and a time.
    Both are important to me, and therefore, both can only be appreciated to their full extent if conditions are met where I can devote my attention fully to either one.

    But that is me, and those are my preferences.

    So I suppose the iPad is not my kind of device. As it is not intended to be.

    And that, I believe, is an important distinction to make. The iPad will fill a need for some people with a certain preference for a certain experience, but it will not have any appeal for people who seek another form of experience.

    That doesn’t make the device itself good or bad.

    Let’s not get intimidated by this -it will change everything- premise.

    Because it will not.

    At least, not me, in my computer room.

  206. Most of the best iPad apps are going to be from those same “experimentalist amateurs”.

  207. Apple’s a business. And businesses have strategies and philosophies to make themselves successful. Apple seems to have both pointed in the direction of building really cool devices that are closed. I would call that a smart business decision. And it seems to be working quite well. Now, geeks and nerds (yours truly included) don’t like that philosophy. For us, tinkering with what we own is as much a purpose for buying the device as the utility/fun that comes bundled with it.

    What can we do? I’d say, apart from our mouths, let’s speak with our wallets. And our brains too. Let’s buy technology that’s open. Let’s buy products that support tinkering. And let’s tinker them to build cool apps.

    And let’s complain about things, but let’s also support the underdogs – at least the ones that are doing the right thing.

  208. Am I the only one finding the irony that the post before this is about how great the Periodic Table app is?

  209. Am I the only one finding the irony that the post before this is about how great the Periodic Table app for the iPad is?

  210. I’m amazed at all the people who got offended at the “consumer” description. Is reading comprehension no longer taught? The point in the article is that this creature does not exist, that the companies are treating you like a mouthless beast instead of a person with a brain, and NOT that Cory thinks that’s what you are. I honestly can’t see how anyone can read it that way. O.o

  211. As a new Mum I fully embrace the iPad. It means that when I’m nursing and only have one free hand I can still read books, my email, and keep in touch with the world. My iPhone is just too small for consuming in a way that I want to – even the horrid landscape view doesn’t allow me to read my feeds properly in Google Reader.

    I don’t think that having an iPad means I am preventing myself or future generations from learning about technology, that will happen regardless.

    In our household we have many computers and I think that’s the case for many others. If someone wants to learn, there are plenty of ways to do it – my husband started a hackerspace in the spirit of learning about how things work in a community setting. There are lots of classes and camps for kids to learn about hardware and software. If they are keen to learn, they will get involved to do so, iPad or not.

  212. The people who will buy an iPad are the same drones that would buy Winsor & Newton paint and get locked into the colors W&N deems appropriate instead of pressing their own linseed oil and grinding their own paint from raw pigments. Sheeple.

  213. I don’t think Cory’s argument is the best one against the iPad. The fact that excellent substitutes exist for the iPad (touchscreen netbooks) which cost much less and do much more is enough of an argument for me. They fill the exact same niche. Unless your idea of the niche the iPad fills is being able to run iPad apps, that is.

    1. Except nobody buys those netbooks with the cheap construction and the small trackpads. But people will buy the iPad. Theres a huge population that dosent care about trying to open up and monkey with everything they come across and just want something to work. And that population heavily outweighs all the nerds in this world who have issues with what the iPad does.

  214. Given your comments on the Marvel app, perhaps you’re unaware that:
    – the average age of comics readers today is somewhere between 16 and 30, and
    – the age of “put it in your back pocket and pass it around” is about thirty years gone.

  215. While an Apple user I’m no particular Apple evangelist but with genuine respect I think some of your arguments are built on shakey ground.

    You set out your stall with a sweeping anti-corporate agenda that I feel doesn’t recognize Apple’s respectable contribution to the tech world in terms of features and user experience that we now take for granted.
    I think the world can use all the anti-corporate feeling it can get these days but I also think its unrealistic not to recognize that occasionally, throughout history, for all their distasteful practices in the pursuit of profit, some big corporations have produced products that have had a beneficial impact on society, from affordable convenience goods to cheap and quick transport. I’m not necessarily predicting that the iPad will be one of these, but the point must be made. The chutzpah of the little guy is indeed admirable, but sometimes for progress you need the R&D budget of the big guy. Economies of scale do count.

    Lets think back to before Apple became perceivable as a “single company that had declared itself gatekeeper for your phone and other personal technology”, before the iPhone, the first forays into smart-phones were confusing devices with ugly interfaces. They single-handedly revolutionized the smartphone market, and now even Apple refuseniks benefit as its competitors have upped their game. Similar parallels could be drawn from the impact of the iPod on the portable music industry.
    The sheer wealth of global and localized information now at my fingertips in a simple tactile interface is astonishing – and all on a phone I’ve now had for twice as long as any other phone I’ve ever had, and mostly with apps that cost me nothing. If I’ve got an idea for an App, I can download the SDK and join the party. Before, I might have had to learn PERL or something.

    I think the comic book analogy fails to recognize the realities of the internet. While a few comics swapped between small circles of friends may have been beneficial for the comic book industry, file-sharing on the internet has entirely changed the way people go about obtaining free content. Content-providers already give demos and samples to try and sell their wares, I think expecting them to provide it in an easily-shareable format is unfair.

    Now we come to the main issue on which I disagree with you.
    First let me say I am an IT professional myself, with very broad experience in various industries and technologies. Yet I feel that the Maker Manifesto itself is based on the flawed and technocratic premise that EVERYONE should be able to, and indeed have the slightest cause, to open up the device and tinker, and that the platform should be open and easy to manipulate. This doesn’t even hold true with the desktop PC. While it is indeed useful to be able to open up a PC and upgrade its contents, this attitude actually unintentionally discriminates against the majority of people.

    As an experienced support guy I can tell you that most people who own a computer (PC or Mac) simply aren’t getting the best use out of it in terms of efficiency and economy right at the software level, with files stored all over the place and no understanding of RAM-intensive activities or best practise in terms of security. This is because most people don’t know a great deal about how their computers work, and as a result will probably replace it as useless, slow and buggy long before it would really be necessary to do so if they knew how to prevent it.
    But, and here it is, why should they know? Why should they have to? The internet is for everyone, and contains so much potential benefit for everyone just in simple life-improving, educating information. Yet most people are hobbled by fear, ignorance and financial restraint from getting the greatest benefit from it. ‘Most people’ here includes average Joe’s in the west and rural Africans. They’ve got enough problems, problems which can easily be solved with information from the internet, from where to get those sneakers cheaper to a more efficient way of digging an artesian well, but currently they can’t confidently solve those problems without a familiarity with the windows desktop and an understanding of anti-virus measures.

    Ease of use, tactile look and feel, they are not based on a cynical view of all our mothers as simpletons, they are based on a genuine love and respect for all our mothers and everyone like them. Everyone’s mother should get to share this, and it shouldn’t be necessary for them to learn a whole raft of new skills in order to do so, or have someone standing at their shoulder all the time. The fact that they are capable of learning how to use it now doesn’t mean they want to or should have to. That way lies technocracy, the “knows” better off than the “know-nots”. The first Graphical User Interface was an empowerment, but this rejection of ease-of-use as patronizing would have us all still pecking away at text prompts. Most people don’t need or want an open platform, they want something that ‘just works’. At work, in IT, I hate people who want things that ‘just work’, because I expect them to have become to somee extent computer-literate to get this far, but more people in the world still make mud-bricks every day than spreadsheets.

    The iPad is another step towards the day when most things can be achieved with simple touchscreen controls by a computer novice, it can’t be an ideal to one day have most of the human race be halfway to being IT experts, what a waste of potential, all the other things those people could learn.
    Convenience means compromise. I can imagine how much thicker the iPad would be if all the parts were interchangeable and able to be removed by a non-technical person with home tools, and I’m fine with it being solid-state as a result.

    I personally won’t be getting one soon, I’m in the ‘second hardware revision camp’ for this one, but I will probably eventually buy one as a replacement for the 1st revision macBook I am typing this on, as I only use it for browsing and email in front of the TV – the kind of light use that the iPad is perfectly suited for.

  216. THANK YOU!

    A million thank yous.

    You’ve captured EXACTLY why the whole Apple thing drives me psychotic. The glazed happy faces of the iPod people. The eerily smug yet desperate elitism that makes them into compulsive sales people for Apple that says ‘I’m better than you because I chose Apple’ and at the same time demands you join in – not realising that that destroys their uniqueness. The ultimate being different by dressing like everyone else who’s ‘different’.

    Being proud because they can *buy* things – but having no respect for those who make things – unless they make things that work with Apple products and can be bought on the Apple Store.

    Being happy to have FEWER choices and pay more for that priviledge.

    It’s insanity made into a virtue.

  217. I seem to me like narrow thinking to poo-poo a device that has not even come out yet. Give it a bit. There have been very very few devices that were not hackable in a satisfactory way within the lifetime of the device.

    Also, there are a lot of clever people out there who will probably find paradigm-breaking ways of using this in new ways. If you don’t want one now, fine, but it sure sounds like sour grapes to evangelize it so hard.

  218. Hi

    Personally, I am a bit in two minds about it.

    First off, let me say that I concider you/them/the gizmodo guy/us all outregeous nerds. It is sad, to see so many bad vibes going on, for a product, when there are people (yes, the children in Africa) that die from hunger, when there are disabled, disfigured people out there that wake up every day and instead of a hand they see a stump, or don’t even see at all.

    By now, I concider the whole thing to basically be the same thing with football teams, but for technology. People who get all worked up about these things, are nothing more than a new form of hooliganism. Techno-hooliganism if you will. It is sad, so very sad, and no Apple fans, all the so called “designed” aluminium enclosures won’t elevate you above that. You are nerds for merely having been involved in this debate. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be “defending” the ipad, you would be doing something cool, like rock climbing or something.


    The reason I am in two minds, is because I don’t see why this bifurcation has to be assumed. Why it has to be either One, or the Other. Why can’t I do both?

    For work & x kind of fun, I have a PC. I self build that thing, selecting every component carefully. I run 4 cores are 4 Ghz, and the programs that I run on it are the likes of 3Ds Max, Photoship and Premiere. I love that PC and I am not changing for anything. I also love poking at it, running cellular automata, running MAME32 emulators, hoping to connect REPRAPS to it through USB one day and so on.

    On the other hand, I don’t see why I can’t equally have an Ipad, in order to (mostly) ready my ebooks as well. (which, don’t tell anyone, I intent ot mostly nick through rapidshare. I am more interested in it reading pdf than its “ibooks”). Just because I am interested in an ipad, doesn’t mean that I want to give my PC away.

    You see, the way I see it. The problem is that most mobile devices, were pretty closed anyway. Even netbooks, you might have been able to change the battery (more, like buy a battery in an extremely particular shape), or upgrade the RAM a bit, but you weren’t really tinkering with them much either. Not on the GPU/CPU/Display level. They are sold as pretty much solid chunks.

    And that’s it pretty much. I don’t really see the iPad as a “computer”, as much as a “portable display” with it’s own mini-memory and mini-processor. It is not a “PC” rather it is more like a very specialized “Monitor”. And in the end of the day, I might have selected it, but I never tinkered with my PC’s monitor either.

    I also have some arguments/counter-arguments/points for some of the points mentioned around.

    Tinkering: I think that there is still quite a bit of tinkering going on, but that a lot of it has changed form. you see, I have to admit that I have missed all that Apple II etc era (I am 24 btw), but I think that quite a lot of young people, right now simply tinker with the “internet”. Be it blogs, websites, attempts at small business.

    Basically the problem is that hardware has been perfected so much, that there isn’t really much reward in tinkering with it any more. (apart from putting a PC together). So what has happened there, is a paradigm shift on what tinkering is supposed to be. Back then, it was hardware based, but also the internet didn’t exist. Now, there is a whole new level, made of this “soft”, software stuff. A jungle of data (the internet and everyone constantly uploading stuff to it), to be poked at in different ways. And the reward has moved, from the hardware, to it.

    Even makers if you think about it, sure are “hardware tinkerers”, but also are an “internet group”. It’s a trans-national / international, borderless group, instantly sharing and pooling and uploading infromation. And that actually wouldn’t be possible at the same level with 14k modems.

    I can perfectly imagine a maker then, who is weldng an art car for burning man. And at the same time has an ipad open next to him, pointed at maker group X or some pictures of a crazy indian pattern. He simply treats the thing as a more complex tool. (think it as a screwdriver, that can display pictures! Do you really forge & reforge your screwdrivers continously?) His tinker is simply occuring at different levels, be it mechanical, or the “Internet” level, where he is playing (tinkers) with ideas along with the similar minded.

    Simplicity: I know what you mean with it. But there is a difference between compexity & capability. Just because something is more complex, doesn’t make it automatically better -assuming- that what you wanted to do in the first place can be archieved by both. And that is not something bad.

    There is no reason for “all” technology to be “hard”. Everytime I catch myself falling into the trap of thinking like that, I remind myself of Asimov’s sci-fi worlds.

    Do you remember them? Poor Asimov died before GUI interfaces started taking over. As a result, one think that has engraved in my memory, is that in his sci-fi stories, basically no one ever sits in front of a computer!

    Sure, there are robots, and lots of clearly automated and computer controlled things, but people don’t “search for drivers” or “check their facebook” and “twitter” and such. They simply drivers cars & spaceships and take walks etc. And I always loved that romantic sci-fi vision. That computers could be wide-spread, but essentially be background objects as well. Walls can be computers, doors can be computers, books (how much do people really tinker with books btw?) can be computers, but not the central thing in someone’s life!

    Why can’t we have computational appliances that take care of the petty things (like watching youtube videos) and then focus on the really cool tinkering stuff then. Like cooking. Or art cars. Or flying ultralight aircraft. Or discovering anti-gravity or something.


    You are full of crap too.

    The first behavior that annoys me, are those who boast about how it is going to be a “success”, “will sell millions” etc. You know, this might have been an argument, if you happened to own the company, instead of the product. You are not the one getting money from the ipad, you are the one giving it, ok? You did not create the ipad, and no, buying one doesn’t rub off its success on to you.

    I also dislike people constantly making excuses for Apple. (my main grievances are the lack of a USB port, and a wacom-like stylus that would allow it to replace one of the simplest books of them all… the sketchpad) You ought to be demant more stuff from it, not make excuses for it. Companies should be our servants, our slaves, our bitches, no offense. They should be the ones who works, for us to enjoy. Why? Because we are the ones with the ka-ching. That’s why. And there is nothing that disgusts me more, that endless fanboys continously excusing and excusing wave after ware. Start demanting so Apple is -forced- to start giving even more.

    I also find the poster who says “I am not a creator, can’t write, draw, you are belittling me, waaah am I not equal?”, to whom my answer would be, err, yes. You are not equal and someone has to say it. If you are a creative person, the ipad is a bit crap (can’t type very well, can’t draw very well, can’t record sound or connect a midi instrument to it very well) and those creators have full rights in both not liking that and complaining about that. Too elitist for you? Tough luck, the ipad creators were creators too. That’s why they made it, while you are delegated to the hippo like thing that will be paying to press ifart apps.

    Nothing pisses me off than people trying to use their “numbers” or “non-creativity” or “simplicity” as some kind of moral superiority, versus that evil nerdy “creative” miniority. Pandering to the lowest common denominator doesn’t make the denominator any higher, simply well pandered.

  219. The piece is forced, the iPad will probably be awesome, and most of you will probably buy one.

  220. Cory –

    I like to take things apart and fiddle with software too. Five years ago I had a USB drive that would boot OS X on any Windows PC. I hacked my car too. But most of the time I just want stuff to work. My microwave, washing machine and cell phone contain “no user serviceable parts,” but I am not the least bit offended. They do their job well, and when they break I decide whether to have someone fix them or to discard and start over.

    We had the same debate when the iPod came out, and when the Ap store started. “Who the heck is this guy Jobs telling me how I am going to consume my music, or what Aps I am going to use on my iPhone?” People who truly felt like they didn’t want to be held hostage to elJobso, hacked their iPods and iPhones to get the results they wanted, or used other devices/platforms that were more forgiving. The vast majority decided that they just wanted to listen to music, check their email, make a call or surf the web. They lost flexibility but gained convenience – a trade they made willingly. The same thing will happen here. Someone will figure out a way to let me send comic books to my nephew’s iPad. I am sure of it.

    If I ran Marvel that someone would be me. In exchange for a two-year sub I’d let you send five issues to five friends. You get to share. I get free advertising that generates more subs. And if I were Jobs I would find a way to get free iPads into the hands of power users. The deal? Subscribe to a couple of comics, three newspapers, and five magazines for two years. Jobs wouldn’t do this out of the goodness of his heart of course, but because among power users he stood to make more as a content distributor than as a hardware vendor. With so many free iPads on the loose, perhaps my friends and I wouldn’t just share single comics electronically, we’d just swap iPads and share entire collections.

    The point here is not what is philosophically bad or good, it’s what practical tradeoffs each of us are willing to make. Jobs is betting people will choose convenience, ease of use and fashion over the chaos of unfettered innovation and unlimited choice. Google, with Android, is betting the other way – that, just as you suggest, we are all smarter than that and will rather go with a platform that’s a little more chaotic but allows all comers.

    History certainly suggests Google is right about this and Apple is wrong. Then again, pundits said the same thing about Facebook’s top down approach to the web. Doesn’t seem to have hurt Zuckerberg or his users a bit. Does the doctrine that says “All walled gardens are bad and doomed to fail” need tweaking? It appears we will all find out soon enough.

  221. Technerds and gearheads will never like Apple. Partly because Apple allows non-nerds to do amazing things with technology, for a price. But everything you can do with an i/Pro Apple gadget, you can do with a Win/Nux PC/gadget. You just don’t get that aura of “cool” from the genpop … although fellow gearheads will sing your praises.

    This is no different than the mid 80’s when a mouse and GUI allowed people to do things more easily than the keyboard (and keyboard shortcut template/stack o’ Peachpit Press books) people did. And so it goes … Apple comes out with something to change the game, charges a premium, the industry catches up and sells for less, driving the price down. The only difference is that lately Apple’s been able to drive enough innovation that they don’t make themselves irrelevant like they did in the mid-90s after Win95 came along and stole a lot of Apple’s unique factor.

    The bigger issue in all this is that there has to be more choice; we’ve had little or none in the PC space for years. Apple came along and brought usability to the mobile world. Google is a welcome player in this space, as well as its upcoming pad/pc ChromeOS tools. As mobile, gadget, PC functions all blur together, to me the biggest casualty is Microsoft who will have to cede its >90% share to others, and may very well have to drop its prices on OS/Office software.

  222. You make an eloquent and good argument for why someone with a personal attachment and investment in technology should be wary of the iPad. But in doing so, I think you’re overlooking the very attractive, beneficial aspects of the iPad (and Apple’s other recent devices) for those who aren’t in that group.

    A car enthusiast might argue that another car enthusiast would be crazy to buy car X because parts Y & Z can’t be replaced, and he just knows that other enthusiasts would desire to modify their own cars. That may be so, but I’m not a car enthusiast and couldn’t care less. Car X looks nice, gets great gas mileage, is very safe and durable, and suits my needs. So I love my car X, maybe because I’m not an enthusiast. Clearly the manufacturer has identified just the right target audience in me.

    The iPad and Apple’s DRM’ed, locked-down, restrictive other products are just the same way. In many regards they’re damn good products — they’re rugged, beautiful, fast, and have tons of truly compelling and genuinely useful apps — everything that’s attractive to someone who doesn’t have the personal investment in technology that you do.

    Your article is a good one, but it’s engulfed in nostalgia and idealism. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s blinding you to the very real benefits and quality of this product. So you’re right, it’s a bad product for you and maybe other technologists and hackers. But it’s great for my mom, and I have no contempt for her when I say that.

  223. “Most of the really exciting stuff hasn’t come from big corporations with enormous budgets.”

    You made a big claim with the above statement with hardly any evidence to corroborate it.

    I can think of many exciting stuff that came from big corporations with enormous budgets
    -> IBM PCs
    -> Apple Ipod
    -> Motorola Car phone (which revolutionized mobile phones)
    -> Many different kind of drugs which need enormous budgets for R & D.
    -> Cars -> Average man car to exciting cars like Ferrari.

    Also, your argument that you should be able to change the battery, else the product is useless seems very silly! May be parents who want their kids to learn to change their batteries will buy them a different product, and parents who want kids to read wikipedia will get them an IPAD.

  224. The iPad is Apple’s response to Microsoft Bob. Having said that, I don’t think Bob was a bad idea, it was just poorly executed, and way before its time.

  225. I recently got myself a mac out of curiosity, and ever since I got it I asked myself if I still would have been that much into computers, if I started with such a shiny OS that abstracts everything away from you.
    And I think the answer would still be yes. When I started using computers it was just out of curiosity that I wanted to learn how to use all of its features.
    And that same curiosity would want me to look behind an i[$DeviceName]’s abstraction an see how it works and develop for it. even the formal url is a pain in the ass tbh.
    I think Apple’s approach on this matter is, that they simply want you to get things done. Even if it’s not my mum using such a device, When I want to check something on the interwebs I just want to take the device, look the thing up and read. I don’t want, at that particular moment, to be bothered with all the computing behind it.

    I guess it is sort of like hand-coding a website or using a WYSIWYG-editor. or to use only the command line and an editor for a software-project, or an IDE like eclipse. I mean sure, there’s the purity and nerdiness to the archaic side, but there are moments where I don’t want to be bothered with it. And for those moments i think devices like the iPad are a good choice.

    And also I believe that the iPad is not the messiah bringing us the digital revolution. As you pointed out, this revolution will not come from a company who has to make a profit. But honestly, it’s not their job. It’s our job. And when the revolution comes, I believe with safari the iPad is well-equiped to give access to the new content. DRM sure is crap and should burn in hell as the drugged braind who invented it. But those are not arguments for/against the iPad…

  226. Apple is selling the idea of less is more. I also think that this is what pro-Apple and potential iPad owners are saying; regardless of how they say it or what analogy they use.

    It does not take a genius to understand that.

    What I think some do not understand is; beyond the ideology, outside of the functionality arguments, and beyond the nerds versus common man debate; there are also other implications. Not just for the people who *do* purchase this, but also for the people who do *not*.

    You will end up having less, but you will be paying more for less. And not just in functionality. That ideology will creep into every aspect imaginable and become the business model that Apple is hoping will succeed. I do not necessarily want to demonize a company as their job is to make a profit and that is something America is based upon and for which I believe in; but do not be blinded either. They do want power.

    Every one of you who buy it will be making the business model of “paying more for less” viable. Not just for you, but for me and every other person on this planet.

    You will make books, video, applications, and not yet defined media much more expensive. The devices will become cheaper, but what you can do with it will become much more expensive. Not just for you, but for all of us.

    In this respect, this product is truly revolutionary. It certainly is not revolutionary in functionality (it is only a Wonka sized iPod Touch). The only real difference between existing products at Apple (ala iPhone/Touch) is a faster/better processor and more screen space.

    Whether it be because it is easier to manipulate or because it does only the things you care about, you are never-the-less allowing one entity to control how you get media, where you get it from, what you get it for, how you will be able to use it, and when you will get it and for what price.

    Yes, enjoy your iPad. You just screwed everybody. If it succeeds you are really just doing yourself an injustice in the end.

  227. The App Store complaints are at least somewhat misguided. Apple actively promoted the web app as standard for its mobile devices and was (apparently) forced by the market to create the third party native app market. As transitional moves it looms as rather gargantuan but it is transitional as the standards and tools are developed to make web apps fully competitive. Please note the port of Quake II to a web app by programmers at Google. This utilized WebGL which is available in development versions of some browsers (including WebKit) which will eventually be a standard part of all browsers (we hope).

    Integrating the full promise of multitouch in web apps is probably going to be a rather challenging exercise but it is short sighted to imply the iPad is forever closed to at least software hacking. In summary I think the future is not as dark as some imply.

  228. All the comments about Apple users being lazy consumers who don’t appreciate people who make things is so ironic considering artists and musicians have always been disproportionate users of Apple products and much of the resurgent popularity of Macs over the last decade has been because of creative applications like iMovie and GarageBand. It used to be that if you were an Apple user everyone assumed you must be an artist.

    The idea that you “cannot create anything” on an iPad is laughably, demonstrably false.

    And, for the record, I have no pans to buy one.

    1. And, for the record, I have no pans to buy one.

      Dang it, at first I read your typo as “I have no pants to buy one.”

      And that, fellow readers, is my contribution to the discussion.

  229. read through about 150 of the comments before brain lock set in. i won’t be buying an ipad for a few reasons. no usb? wtf. no miini or micro sd card slots? wtf. no hdmi out? wtf. no 16:9 form factor? wtf. i’m waiting for the adam which will have all of the above and a good deal more oomph in the specs as well.

  230. Oh please. The iPad isn’t the single device to make everyone happy about themselves and all that ails them. It is what it is. Roll with it people.

    I’m happy reading on my Kindle, so I don’t need an iPad as an ebook reader, except for books that need color and graphics. And for reading PDF whitepapers. And for quick access to the web. Oh, know what? That’s worth it, actually.

    But I’m not looking for a hacking device that will teach my kids how to change the world. I don’t pretend that the iPad is the ONLY opportunity to do these kinds of things (and therefore Apple really blew it). Get real.

  231. What’s stopping you from downloading the SDK and making your own apps? You can install an app you make yourself without submitting to the app store.

    Give it a couple weeks and it’ll be jail broken and you can hack at it all you want. No different than rooting an Android device which you mention you have done.

    No the iPad is not an open device but you can’t be that interested in modifying and experimenting if you give up this easily.

  232. This thread proves 2 things:

    1) that pro- and anti-iPad people seem to be on 2 different planets and any form of discourse is impossible. I can’t understand the vehemence of the anti’s, last I heard it wasn’t actually mandatory to buy one. Cory was quite sensible but some contributors to these threads really need to step away from their computers and get out more to gain a sense of perspective.

    2) that replies should indicate which comment they are replying to, possibly with a quick link to go back to the original

    … three things!

    3) impose a time delay between postings to stop people carpet bombing the discourse.

  233. If you have the money to chuck at something that will be obsolete in a year, why not buy an iPad? It’s the “I need a new car every year” theory of consumerism, where regardless of the limitations of what you’re buying, as long as it is sort-of cool and gives you a little status boost in your circle of friends, why not throw some disposable income at it? It’s not like anybody NEEDS an iPad anymore than they need little robot dogs that bark and follow you around, or mostly useless pretend-AI vacuum cleaners that operate without adult supervision. The iPad is certainly not perfect, and even as it’s being launched version 2.0 is being planned and perfected, but it’s the way of the world in electronics. Every year, what you bought last year is now just obsolete suckage; the market is set up that way, and it’s hugely inefficient, but that’s how it works. The laptop you used for college in 1992, well now you can’t even use it as a typewriter. That 6″ floppy disk you found in a box, well now you can’t read it on any machine. In 20 years your kids will rummage through the attic and find your old Beach Boys albums from 1974 and they (a) won’t know what they are, and (b) won’t be able to find anything to play them on outside of a museum. The annoying thing is that the iPad, like so many other devices, is designed to have to be thrown away instead of upgraded — the screen, the box, the guts, everything goes bye-bye and you have to replace it all, which is just stupid and greedy.

  234. “… I am typing this on an Ubuntu Thinkpad, tethered to a rooted NexusOne.”

    I don’t think ‘my Mom’ or in fact most Mom’s could even understand most of that sentence. Those are the Mom’s the iPad may be aimed at although I am getting one because I want to develop apps for a big iPod touch. ;-)

  235. Not to worry Cory Doctorow – I suspect that the “Maker” crowd is about to (or already has) hit critical mass, and yank things forward again in the next 5 years.

    I work in digital electronics, and recently, electronics have hit the “transistors are free” point, and will only get more powerful as Moore’s law keeps on rolling.

    Just sample all of the cheap uProcessors talked about on the Maker magazine site. You can now get a full blown 32 bit micro for under $5.00 single lot. Five years from now, it will be as fast as today’s big iron parts from Intel and AMD.

    Combine that trend with how open source software has come into its own, and you have a potent combination..

    Some of the dozens of IPad competitors will turn to open tinkerers in desperation for market share and you’ll see a lot more creativity as all these crash together..

  236. I love the Apple apologists. Steve Jobs could open his very own gulag and they’d fall over themselves rushing to defend how it’s the best thing evar.

  237. I personally believe that the iPad will be fun. I mean I own an iPhone and playing with the multitouch screen is already a blast so I can’t really imagine how much fun it will be to do so on a much bigger screen!

    Also, if the entire book and magazine industry follow Apple with the iBook store, the iPad will be a major success like the iPod and iPhone, there’s no doubt about it. Lack of flash? people still don’t understand that Apple will dictate what technology we’ll use. When you have so many users, it doesn’t matter whether flash exists or not… People will simply stop making website in flash, period.

    Finally, for those who believe I’m a fangirl, I’m not :) I also believe that Apple doesn’t score 100% with it but that doesn’t mean they’re completely wrong in their strategy. No no no, not an Apple fangirl, here’s the proof :)))


  238. I intend to buy an iPad, with 3g support.

    Your article has some valid concerns, but the iPad is a compelling-enough product for me that I’ll buy one. Btw, I am also an open-source developer, and have been for about 30 years now, so I do understand what issues you’re talking about there.

    Let’s check back in a year and see how the iPad does.

  239. Don’t like flash, flash kills websites, flash is on the way out anyway unless Apple buys Adobe and fixes it. This is another great Apple product. I’ll have one.

  240. Remember, initially, Apple was afraid of a NIN app. If that’s where Apple sets the bar, I’m afraid of where they will set it in the future. No offense to any NIN fans(nin IS FINE! Love ’em), but they are hardly half as offensive than 50 perCENT of what’s on iTunes. When people THAT out of touch are making censorship decisions, even if they fix them later, I’m not interested in handing that company my cash.

  241. This post is nothing more than Doctorow demonstrating how deeply in love he’s fallen with the sound of his own voice. … Every supposition he makes is wrong … 100% wrong … shown to be wrong … wrong, wrong, and wrong …

    This is coming from an Apple user and I’m telling you you’re getting way too freaked out here.

    I’m not so sure that Cory is saying he wants the product to flop. He wants the mickey mouse OS X-lite platform to flop or at least suffer enough hesitation from the consuming public to force Apple to make an iPad version with regular OS X on it or at least a far more open version of the current OS X-lite that’s on it.

    I really dig OS X compared to Windows 7 because (overall) I have to jump through far less hoops to get work done (before any Mac haters move in.. YES, I’ve used Windows 7 extensively, so eat me). OS X-lite or whatever on the iPad will make me jump through hoops and even spend money on apps and/or wait for apps to be made when if it just ran normal OS X I could immediately get down to business and in many cases for free.

    While I admit there is a bit too much hyperventilating from nerds about the iPad when they could just use an alternative… I’m GLAD people are speaking out about the iPad’s shortcomings and I’ll be GLAD if there is a boycott and it forces Apple to open that puppy up and maybe even put an un-crippled version of OS X on it.

    I don’t use Apple products because they are cute, cool or smell nice. I use them because they make me money and cause me less wasted time than Windows 7 AND Ubuntu (for my business purposes).

    I will say one thing, with all this attention both negative and positive… iPad will be successful as is for a while. I just hope enough people piss and moan about them after the “wow” factor wears off and demand MORE from Apple.

    Once Apple responds and takes that stupid OS X-lite off the thing and gives me REAL OS X on it. I’m buying the thing ASAP.

    Thank you, Cory, for keeping the fire on Apple’s ass.

    (Disclaimer : If Apple at near or close to the current price makes it so you can use the iPad with a stylus and it’s suitable for retouching like a wacom tablet AND you can also use the iPad as a secondary monitor for my laptop. I’m getting the thing anyway. But I don’t see that happening any sooner than normal OS X running on it anyway.)

  242. It seems as though some are very sensitive to criticism of the iPad. Basically everyone who is buying one. If all you want is positive and non-critical reviews/posts that lack any substance just go to Gizmodo. They are the place for you shiny happy iPad people and they will tell you how wonderful you are for buying this device. This will of course improve your self-esteem (as it appears to be very low to begin with) by pumping you full of hot fluffy air. Since every post will be about the iPad (and about every 1.5 seconds to boot), you will find you fit right in with the others and have plenty of material to read that provides congratulatory idolatry and intellectual masturbation.

  243. Whoop, shit… just saw THIS. I might be getting an iPad after all.

    &#9658 http://www.tuaw.com/2010/04/02/first-look-idisplay/

    That said, I’m still going to hold out as long as I can until Apple puts normal OS X on it (or at least an option for it). In essence, even though I do really want one now b/c of the product at that link above for it, I’m going to join the boycott and hold out.

    Plus, I’m skeptical of the refresh rate. Apple need to make it so you can plug it into your display port. Not just this wifi hack option for a secondary monitor/touch screen.

    1. Cowicide, iDisplay is a great example of the cool innovation people seem to do when someone stirs up their imagination. Apple’s really good at that – not creating anything exactly new, but things that are just really polished and nice.

      Sometimes developers, hackers and makers need someone to show them what they can do to spur more innovation. I think the iPad will do that just as the iPhone did.

      What’s really cool is when someone realizes they can make the hack out of old stuff and have something just as good. They just needed someone to come along and make something shiny to get them motivated.

  244. Cory, “creative People?”

    I’d rather live in a digital world where anyone who wants to can make a comic book, upload it to a digital bookstore, and if it’s good people will buy it and he can be paid, than an analog world where you need to be fortunate enough to be working for a comic book publisher that owns your work, and has final say on what you make, and can choose to print and promote as they see fit. If we have to deal with Apple’s idiosyncrasies to make that world a reality, so be it. Anyone can create a competing system, and some have tried, most have failed because Apple is just better at it than they are. I’m personally more interested in a fair marketplace for content creators, programmers, musicians, writers, film makers, than what we have now, and if Apple succeeds I think they deserve their percentage and our support.

    1. Calaverius, you better hope your comic book doesn’t contain any nudity or adult themes. You won’t be able to get your comic on the iPad. Or if you do get it on there and are critical of Apple somewhere else, chances are it will disappear from their store.

      You’re much better off publishing on the web.

      If people like Cory get his way, we will all be better off.

      1. Calaverius, you better hope your comic book doesn’t contain any nudity or adult themes. You won’t be able to get your comic on the iPad.

        As I understand it, the iPad supports PDF and there is a third party cbr reader. You don’t need to go through the Apple Store to get content onto the iPad.

        1. Where on the same side here. If you make a comic app (ie Apple exclusive), you might be screwed. Pick an open (or at least broadly supported) standard and you should be fine.

          1. Where on the same side here. If you make a comic app (ie Apple exclusive), you might be screwed. Pick an open (or at least broadly supported) standard and you should be fine.

            I have a Macbook, iPhone and tomorrow I’ll have an iPad. I use iTunes all the time. But the way I use my tools, DRM is never an issue. I can get full use out of them without buying any DRM protected content. I don’t care if the Apps are exclusive to the iPad. I don’t want the same software on the iPad that I have on my desktop computer, because they are two completely different things.

            All of this ruckus smells of religious dogma, not practical application of technology. If you want to keep your content cross platform, no one is preventing you from using MP3s or whatever video file format, or whatever rich text format you prefer. Instead of screaming “DON’T BUY THIS COOL NEW GADGET!” suggest alternatives that make it possible to use the cool new gadget productively using more open content. Recommend places other than the Apple Store to buy non-DRM books, magazines, music or movies.

            It never works to stand in front of the oncoming wave and command it to stop because it doesn’t fit your particular brand of technological religion. It’s smarter to conscript the new technology into doing what you want it to do.

  245. Very good read Mr. Doctorow. I have no intention of purchasing an iPad for several reasons, most of which are mentioned above. One is a distrust of apple’s overpriced gizmos and their disloyalty to customers (iPhone price drop).

    I do, however, look forward to the Notion Ink Adam, an android pixel Qi transflective tablet. Basically an iPad with an extremely long battery life (up to 160 hours?), flash support (flash will always be a part of the web, regardless of the apple anti-flash position), LCD and eInk modes, Android, and ability to publish codes and programs much easier than the hoops apple runs you through. Notion Ink is also a much smaller company, and I’d rather spend 800 dollars on the little guy than 400 dollars to the big guy. Little guy needs it more and helps their business grow.

    I suggest anyone looking into the tablet market look into the Adam, as it looks to be highly impressive from what we’ve heard this far. (not trying to sound like an advertisement but it looks like a high quality alternative)

  246. > The way you improve your iPad isn’t to
    > figure out how it works and making
    > it better. The way you improve the
    > iPad is to buy iApps.

    No. The way you improve your iPad is to put content on it. Not just content from iTunes Store, that is just the quick and easy way to get content. The other half of iTunes is the part you fill up yourself, from any source, in standardized vendor-neutral formats. Not only can you put on content from 3rd parties, you can put content on there that you made yourself. Not only that, but a Mac comes with all the tools to make that content yourself.

    There is more than one type of hacking. Computer hacking is not the only human endeavor. There is also hacking music, hacking movies, hacking books and Web content. Is computer hacking superior to these other kinds of hacking? Or are the various kinds of hacking all equal?

    At the iPad introduction, the first we saw of an iPad was it sitting next to a MacBook Pro, in the spot that is traditionally occupied by a printer. The iPad doesn’t replace the very computer hackable MacBook Pro … *it replaces the printer*. Have you opened your printer up and hacked it in various ways? Have you modified the firmware in your printer? I would bet you that less than 0.1% of humanity has ever done any hacking to their printer. Even the computer science nerdiest individual wants to issue a “print” command and just see a sheet of paper shoot out of their printer.

    When you look at the MacBook Pro and the iPad together, that is a system where you can plug in your video camera and edit the video, encode it, and “print” it to the iPad in ISO standard video and take it with you. You can do the same with a still camera. No more slowly printing your digital RGB photos to a paper CMYK printer … now you take the photos with you in their native RGB, and they remain made-of-light forever. You can create a Web site with any tools you want (even emacs and vi are on there, in addition to Apache, PHP, Perl, Ruby) and “print” it to the iPad in W3C standard HTML5. You can plug in any MIDI instrument and it just works. It has 24-bit audio in and out for audio. It has a modern music and audio sequencer on there so you can mix your work and encode it and “print” it to the iPad in ISO standard audio and take it with you. You can write a book and “print” it to the iPad in standard ePub format. It has a system-wide speller that works in all the apps, it has a built-in Oxford dictionary. Even the built-in HTML5 email client is a better word processor than most people have ever used.

    All of these things you can do without doing any computer hacking. You don’t even have to install any software unless you want to, because there is pretty much one of every tool built-in. There is no computer technical hurdle to leap over to get at music hacking or movie hacking and so on. This is a huge feature for those kinds of hackers and many other kinds of hackers because *it does not require us to become amateur computer hackers* in order to do our hacking. It does not place computer hackers at the top of a hierarchy like a priesthood that we have to kowtow to in order to work in digital.

    On the flip side, neither does it force computer hackers to stop hacking. Anyone can make an open API HTML5 app, put it on any server, and it installs and runs beautifully on both on MacBook and iPad. Anyone can contribute to BSD and your code will run on both devices. Saying it’s not computer hackable when both HTML5 and BSD are in there seems outrageous to me. Anyone can make an iPhone app and there are 175,000 of them, and a commercial platform to drive development. There are at least as many or more Mac apps. There are BSD, X-Windows and Java apps running out-of-the-box on the MacBook. Bash, PHP, Perl, Ruby, Python all built-in. You can even script the Mac GUI and applications with AppleScript. The MacBook and iPad are remarkably computer hackable. And all in cross-platform languages. Even Objective-C is over 90% C.

    If a Mac+iPad is not for you, that’s fine. GNU Linux, descended from 2 computer hackers, is already out there for you. But you saying that I shouldn’t buy an iPad because it’s not computer hackable enough is a bore. Has anybody told you that you shouldn’t use Linux because it’s not music hackable enough? Or movie hackable enough? Is the lack of music hacking on Linux really a reason that computer hackers should not use the most computer hackable system? No. Neither is any lack of computer hacking a reason for a music hacker not to use a Mac or iPad.

  247. Completely agreed. Nobody but nobody will ever sell me a computer that I can’t open up, modify, and program as I see fit – stem to stern. (I built my first from chips.)

    Consumers (appliance operators) may be perfectly happy giving all that up. No problem. But yeah, I’m also repelled by the whole philosophy.

  248. I spend a lot of time helping non-nerds use their computers and I can tell you that most of them have no interest at all in “making” stuff (aside from the documents and things their actual work involves). They don’t care about being able to open their devices, they don’t want to know how they work internally and they don’t give a tinker’s about scripting or programming them.

    They just want something as simple as an automatic washing machine or a pop up toaster (or a modern car) that will help them get their work done, provide entertainment and help them communicate. Turn the key and it goes, end of story.

    They don’t get off playing with their computers like nerds do, they find most computers frustratingly difficult to use, full of arcane nonsense that has nothing to do with what they’re after but has to be learned to make them work. They are the total opposite of the Makers types you so adore. But guess what? Non-Makers are the majority (the vast majority) of the population, not us computer nuts, and they will buy iPads like crazy because they are exactly what the majority are looking for in a computer – simple, intuitive, reliable and they don’t require them to learn a whole lot of nonsense that they have no interest in.

    These “normals” aren’t stupid, they’re lawyers, business managers, doctors, secretaries, builders, painters and so forth. They love what computers can do, but they hate the complexity and nerdishness that conventional computers bring with them. They don’t understand why there are 27 different web browsers or why anti-virus apps exist, or what a filesystem is, what urls are all about, or why they have to “install” an application after downloading it (or why there are hundreds of places to go to find applications in the first place, each with different interfaces, rules, prices, etc.) They don’t give a fig about open source software, they just want something that works, is easy to use and lets them do their jobs and communicate with their friends as painlessly as possible. The iPad is for them, not for Makers.

    1. @dshan – said so well. If we only had technology for geeks by geeks we would not have come nearly as far as we have today. Or made anywhere near as much money.

  249. I already have one, except it says “Toshiba” on the top and I found it in a garbage can.

    Runs Ubuntu just great!

  250. 1) Comics

    Let’s get real for a second. Comics are mostly dead to today’s generation. Manga has something of a toehold with today’s youth, but many of those go for $10 per. The days of $1 or $2 comics are mostly over. I was and am a comics nerd. And I appreciate the tactile pleasure of a physical comic. That being said, I am very excited about the Marvel app. I don’t see it as a replacement for comics any more than Tivo is a replacement for movies. I see it as an augmentation. Another way to appreciate my hobby. To get many of the comics I am interested in reading, I would have to spend hundreds or in some cases thousands to own the physical comic. To have that in digital, take-anywhere format for $2? Hell, yes. Comics have in many cases become an affluent’s hobby. Out of the reach of most. $2 for a full digital version of a comic that would go for $1,000 on eBay is obviously a bargain.

    Your point about sharing is a valid point though. I’d like to see the ability to authorize up to five machines to share comics and books. The way iTunes already works. I’m pretty sure paying $2 to read the comic digitally and then share it with five other people is an excellent value.

    2) CD-ROMs

    Don’t like CD-ROMs, prefer the Web? The iPad accesses the Web and all of its open content. Problem solved. The iPhone OS allows people to monetize their content by making it into an app or distributing it in Web form. Or both. If someone puts their content behind a pay wall and no one buys, I’d say the public has spoken. I’m not concerned, for example, with the way Conde Nast, WSJ, or NY Times are handling their content. I won’t be giving them any of my money. In fact, their putting content behind pay walls is a boon for sites like Boing Boing. I’ll be spending more time on sites like BB as certain “mainstream” or “premium” content gets put behind subscription barriers. A lot of content creators who came to relevance pre-Web still think their content is superior to free sites like BB. They’re wrong.

    3) Infantilizing technology

    As a developer, I consider this all too common tech arrogance THE number one culprit in the ocean of over-featured, bloated, confusing, and largely unworkable kludgeware that besets our human species. If simplifying access, data flow, and standardizing interface to promote ease of use is infantilizing, then I’d say computers are due for a tsunami of infantilization.

    Take the Harmony line of universal remotes. We have arrived at the point where people are seriously paying $400 for a TV remote. Where you have to recharge your remote via USB, create macros, and coordinate your half dozen other remotes with a device that has more buttons than the space shuttle. We need to infantilize the shit out of that paradigm. In fact, I’d say there are a great many processes outside of tech that are in desperate need of infantilization.

    Listen, when you pay the dentist to fill your cavities, are you required to know how to operate his tools? You pay him to gather and apply that knowledge competently. Most of the over complexity of technology is because of an overwhelming and ongoing failure of most geeks to do their job properly which is to make technology transparent. Doctors should not need to become computer programmers. Plumbers should not need to become computer programmers. People who are not in the tech industry are having to acquire tech skills primarily because tech professionals are absolutely lousy at doing their job.

    4) Journalism

    I agree that print publishing thinks this device can roll us back to a pre-Web time of paid content and rule by authority. The dominion of the talking heads. They talk, we listen. Frankly, I think it’s a fool’s dream and not only will it fail, but I predict its failure will be prompt and quite stark. Certainly by the end of this year. I personally think Steve Jobs knows this full well. I think he just needs as many handles as possible for this device and if the Rupert Murdochs and other rats want to trail after this piper to paradise, he’ll gladly take their money. The Web will not be diminished in any way by this new magazine hokum, and citizen journalism will continue to erode the coordinated and official press.

    5) Ewaste

    Consider all of the devices that end up in landfills. How many of us are running desktop boxes the size of a car tire? Really, to call out the iPad as a primary culprit in ewaste is spurious at best. I volunteered a number of years at Free Geek in Portland, Oregon and I’ve seen what kind of stuff goes through the ewaste process. One old CRT monitor probably contains the same amount of toxic chemicals as about fifty iPads. So where do you put your old monitors? If you sent it the dump, you have no cause to remark. If you sent it to Goodwill or Salvation Army, you also have no cause to remark, because chances are it STILL went to the dump. Unless you made sure your old tech went to one of the very, very few rigorous, vigilant, and honest ewaste recyclers like Free Geek, you have no cause to remark. If I go through ten iPads in the next twenty years, that will still absolutely pale in comparison to throwing out a single CRT monitor.

    6) App Store

    I do agree with your remarks about the centralization of the App Store. A benevolent slave master is still a slave master. And I would like to see many more app stores not controlled by Apple. As I mentioned in another comment on BB, if Apple does not release its grip on app distribution, I’d like to see the government force their hand.

    Finally, though I disagree on specifics with almost all of your remarks, I am glad you raise the issues and I think it’s very important for all consumers to not just ask, but demand answers and actions from these corporations. Apple is not our friend and they are not family. We shouldn’t “support” them. We should vote with our dollars. Full disclosure, I develop for iPhone and iPad and I have pre ordered a 64 GB 3G iPad for home delivery. Much of my purpose for owning it will be to find as many non-Apple sanctioned ways on and off the device as possible.

    Sorry for the freaking novel. I tried to edit it down.

  251. The iPad is not designed to be a user programmable device. Neither is the processor in your microwave oven or car’s dashboard. Or your TV or your disc player. Or your game machine. Or the vast majority of consumer electronics. Big deal. Each has its place according to its utility.

  252. Cory, I’ve heard many of these points before. I remain torn on the issue of the closed nature of the App Store and Apple’s tight control over what is there and what is not (key examples, Google Voice and my ongoing fear that Apple will kill the Kindle app).

    But as for the infantilization of hardware, I have to take issue with both parts. One, I think you have been incredibly cruel to consumers who frankly are the great majority of the population – people who just want technology that works and helps them do things and don’t care about how it happens. Secondly, I think you have sold the other part of the population — the engineers, the geeks, the programmers, and all the kids who are going to grow up to be those geeks — I think you have sold us all short. Can we be so easily put off from trying to make things better by the fact that an iPad is sealed? I don’t think so. A little thing like that won’t get in the way of the ongoing drive to ask questions, learn, improve things and maybe along the way even change the world.


  253. One other thing… In my view, one of the primary factors in geek criticism of this device is that the lay swine are gaining access to the inner sanctum. The idea that the laity might commune directly with the divine without first consulting the priesthood is generating a vociferous backlash.

    The iPad is the Ninety-Five Theses. Jobs is Martin Luther. And the Internet is the Church at Wittenberg.

    The clergy is in an uproar. Blasphemy! Slander! Lies!

    1. Nice attempt at an end run! But the metaphor works better with Apple and its cult and its hierarchy, the iPad as indulgences, and the Maker Manifesto as the 95 Theses– you know, opening up the possibilities of thinking for oneself.

      This would make Jobs the Pope, of course. I think I’ll let the metaphor work its own way through individual minds from this point on.

  254. The nature of the ipad does promote some tinkering; me and my friends are each buying two – but only because so that we can reverse engineer them. Four will be taken apart tomorrow before we turn the first one on. We expect that the boot block and firmware to be chained down heavy. Yeah, we know about the “custom” CPU, but others will be working on this as well.

  255. People keep saying that this technology is too hard for their mothers, but I was doing sound for a show the other day with an Ipod hooked up to our system, and the girl couldn’t figure out how to work it! She was a teenager that had to come over to me, stop me in the middle of gaffing a drive line, and have me walk up to the Itouch, slide the unlock and push start. Insanity…

  256. iPad, Meh. I’m quite happy with my 3 year old XO with Cory’s autograph on it in gold ink.

  257. If you’ve used an iPod Touch or iPhone to do much browsing and running of apps you’ll totally understand why Apple is about to sell 100’s of millions of these devices. I get it and this article doesn’t. Sure it’s not perfect, but it will do what it does very well. I’m putting money on it that it will revolutionize computing. I think it’s pretty funny that you complain that you can’t open it up. You want it to weigh 1.5 lbs, have a 10 inch brilliant screen, run forever on a charge, be a half inch thick and still be able to swap parts in and out. There are limitations. If you want such a small device then parts have to be glued and bundled in a pretty tight way. You won’t be opening it. But you probably won’t need to, because unlike most of the junk you buy out there it will probably actually work properly.

  258. BTW, it should also be noted that alternatives to the App Store *DO* exist. I have Cydia and Icy on my jailbroken iPhone right now. They sell apps just like the App Store. Apple has made noise about jailbreaking, but they haven’t gone the RIAA or MPAA route and actively tried to prosecute against it. Frankly, I don’t think Jobs cares. I think he pretends to care, and makes noise in public, to keep Apple’s DRM-obsessed partners from yapping.

    The reason Icy and Cydia are not viable alternatives to the App Store is not because Apple attacks them, but rather most developers PREFER the App Store for its ability to generate revenue. A lot of people remark that developers are being “forced” to give their money to “the man,” but the man is giving them back far more than they put in.
    If you give me a twenty in exchange for a fiver, I won’t lament the loss of that five bucks. I’ll celebrate my fifteen dollar profit. Forest. Trees.

  259. I’d like to commend the various posters here who have criticized this implicit notion common on BoingBoing but particular to this post that we should all aspire to be Makers and that Making is the highest calling. There is no one highest calling.

    If you want to be a Maker, then yes! Go forth and Make to your heart’s pleasure. But true happiness is not in the the physical world, but inside us, in self-actualization. If you’re not inclined toward Making, then you should do whatever else it is your talents are inclined toward. There are myriad worthy activities out there that don’t involve Making.

    Cory’s a Maker. Great for him. But do realize that many of the rest of us are not, and that if there are tools out there that help the rest of us do whatever else it is we do, then that’s a good thing even if that tool isn’t ideal for Makers.

  260. You know what’s offensive to my mother? Deciding what she needs for her based on my own ideology, instead of listening to what she wants.

    My mum’s a very intelligent woman, and if she wanted to I’m sure she could work out how to set up the Medibuntu repository in order to get codecs that should be pre-installed. She doesn’t f**king want to. She wants a computer that works when she buys it.

  261. All of your romanticism about the good old days of the digital frontier and kids being able to crack cases aside, you seem to forget how expensive the hardware was: my Mac IIsi – with audio input! – was over $6,000 in 1988. The hardware barrier to entry has dropped considerably in the last 25 or so years. This is a good thing.

    Cracking cases aside, your other big complaint (bearded via O’Reilly) seems to be “where’s the software?”

    iPhone Developer membership is $99 for an SDK that is actually maintained. HyperCard was buggy and poorly maintained. If you want free, build a web app.

    All of your faux populist bullshit being served up is just that: bullshit. It’s far easier to hack now than it’s ever been. Everything’s on the web now, and I have no romantic fondness for the days of menu-driven BBS or metered access.

    AOL put “1000 HOURS FREE!!” on their beer coasters because you used to have to pay by the minute. I don’t miss that, and I don’t miss my soldering iron either.

    You’re starting to read like John Dvorak in Fluevogs. Be sure and let us know how many downloads your iPad app gets.

  262. I am so sick of this argument. You can’t hack it…why the hell would you want to? I couldn’t hack my Walkman either. I don’t like the font size and leading they used on lotsa books; it causes me minimal inconvenience. Don’t dig it? Don’t use it. Stick with Ubuntu or whatever. Enjoy your gizmos…that’s the bottom frickin line.

  263. Durn kids. In my day, we had to chop our own trees, whittle them down to make pencils – which we’d fill with graphite we mined ourselfs outta them foothills yonders. Then, we’d pulp the shavin’s to make our own paper – using a mill powered by our own indentured child slaves.

    We drew our own damn pikchur books, using dyes we painstakingly extracted from th’ roots ‘n stufff – don’ know th’ details, that was wimmenfolk work.

    Now, you spoiled kids buy a “comic” thing already all printed and written and stuff in the store. Don’t have to make up yer own stories any more, just sit and passivly consume other people’s ideas – what The Man tells you you can consume. And you only have a handful of publishers to choose from. Back in my day, every servant-owner was a publisher.


  264. Use the iPad until it is awesome and no hardware upgrades have been released, and when you feel the itch to own the thing completely, just learn to jailbreak the device and gain full control over the device. By that time, you will know what is inside your device and thus can then open/ not open you device to tweak the hardware (if it is in your capacities) and you will feel the new wave of joy!

    [ I do not encourage jail-breaking devices in a way that violates EULA of any manufacturer]

  265. sorry to interrupt all the posturing around here, but did anybody else notice that upside-down Jobs sort of looks like the kid from Mask?

  266. Was there the same visceral, heart-felt expressions of loss when folks hauled their iceboxes to the curb before they plugged in their new-fangled ee-lek-trick re-fri-ger-ay-tores? Did they lament that “storing food used to be an art” as they stared at the humming boxes in their kitchens? “You used to have to pay attention. *Now* look at what our lives have become. We’re slaves to that plug in the wall.”

    Progress is a bitch, ain’t it. Hang on tight.

  267. If I ever decide that a pad-like appliance is near my price point, I think I’d rather get an Android-based iPad killer that I can write my own Java apps for.

  268. ok, well thats why Cory thinks you shouldn’t buy an iPad, fine, good for him. He is attacking it from primarily the perspective that big corporate lock-in is creatively stifling etc. But there are times when big corporate lock-in is good, when the sheer volume of production changes the rules of pricing. Up until today, the only large scale accurate multitouch interface for music cost $3000US, the jazzmutant lemur

    Now there is one for $500 – admittedly still waiting for software, but that won’t take long.. a musician friend of mine is working on an iPad version of his iPhone scratch deck app FlareScratch. Its going to be crazy, and within a year, we are going to see hundreds of music & live stage performance apps on this thing, to the point that we’ll all get sick of going to gigs & seeing musicians tilting iPads all over the place.

    So while Cory advises you not to buy one, musicians all over the world are ignoring him & working out ways to use this thing in new & undreamt of ways. I can only see this as a positive input to the world..

  269. I agree that the “moms are technologically illiterate” cliché needs to die, but let me just say this: *my* mom is very excited about the iPad. She’s excited about it because she loves her iPhone and will immediately know how to use the iPad. She’s excited about it because it will give her a way to watch Netflix movies away from a computer. And a way to do email and web browsing without having to haul her laptop around. What am I supposed to tell her? That Cory Doctorow says she shouldn’t get one because there aren’t any use serviceable parts? Because she can’t run apps from sources other than the app store? My mom loves the app store. She barely downloaded or installed any software before the app store—she didn’t know where to get it.

    Apple has made a device that caters to my mom’s needs and Cory thinks this is “infantalizing” (sic). That to me just seems insulting. There are legitimate reasons people might want what Apple is selling. True, the iPad is not a general purpose computer, conducive to tinkering. Nor is it intended to be.

  270. @DOCTOROW:The way you improve your iPad isn’t to figure out how it works and making it better. The way you improve the iPad is to buy iApps.

    Uhh, no, genius. The way one of your “beloved teen starry eyed hacker” types improves his or her iPad is to grab the free SDK and get cracking. Or better, take another page from your open web book and write an HTML5-based web app for it. MobileSafari, in case you hadn’t checked, is quite good at supporting HTML5.

    Just ask all those websites which are either abandoning Flash or providing alternatives to Flash so that they can also play on the iPad. Isn’t that what you want? an open web without proprietary technologies? And APPLE IS PROVIDING A STRONG IMPETUS.

    Tell me, did YOU do anything with the schematics of an Apple II+? Just wondering.

    Oh wait, no. Hypercard was your baby. I remember it, too. I was in college when I got my Mac. An original 128K. I was at CMU, one of Apple’s Consortium universities so I got mine on Feb 7, 1984.

    Using Hypercard didn’t require me to remove any screws from the Mac and open ‘er up. If I DID open up that Mac, I would have voided its warranty, just like would happen with the iPad.

    So let’s recap: you and Hypercard. Kids today and either SDK-based apps or web apps on the iPad. The original “closed” 128K Mac hardware “appliance” computer and the iPad.

    Let the developers come out with apps that let users create things. Or go spelunking in the App Store now for Maker apps.

    Brushes. Try that one.

    On someone *else’s* iPad.

    I wouldn’t want you to compromise your “principles”.

    1. Yes, the SDK is free, but you can’t redistribute your applications except through eh AppStore, so it’s really just another gate into the walled garden.

      Yes, there’s that super limited private distribution channel that allows, what? 20 downloads? That’s broken by design.

      My laptop. My APPLE laptop, doesn’t put this restriction on me.

      So genius, Fuck. That. Shit.

      1. Yes, the SDK is free, but you can’t redistribute your applications except through eh AppStore, so it’s really just another gate into the walled garden.

        Yes, there’s that super limited private distribution channel that allows, what? 20 downloads? That’s broken by design.

        My laptop. My APPLE laptop, doesn’t put this restriction on me.

        So genius, Fuck. That. Shit.

        People with your point of view have had over thirty years to meet the needs of the users. It evidently hasn’t happened yet, or nobody would give a hoot about iPad-like appliances.

      2. I didn’t talk about redistributing apps, I talked about writing apps FOR YOURSELF, “genius”. what I said still stands.

        Pull the fucking stick out.

  271. Can’t program on the iPad? Really? Sure about that?

    I didn’t think so …. http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/scratch/id358266270?mt=8

    We’re *all* consumers in most of our lives. Some of us are *makers* in a few small areas. Just because someone isn’t interested in being a maker in the same arena as you are you can’t go making big leaps about them being a ‘luser’.

    I’ve helped design cpus (the ARM as it happens), OSs, built my own graphics cards and even graphics workstation, written CAD systems, designed gas turbines and motorcycle frames (never did get to put the one in the other though), built furniture, developed and managed Smalltalk systems, done graphic design and now I’m building a house I designed. I’m a maker in quite a few areas but still I prefer Macs because I don’t *want* to be a maker of that kind of stuff anymore. I want tools that *work* and let me make in those other areas.

    Cory, do you make your own pens? Ink? Paper? Hell, most authors don’t even make their own plots, but borrow them from the vast back catalog of culture. How’s that for being a consumer?

    1. @tim — I think that Apple might claim that that Scratch app is in violation of Apples T&S for developing for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad:

      3.3.2 — An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise. No interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Documented APIs and built-in interpreter(s).

      Hopefully Apple won’t notice, and people can download the code they’ve written on their PCs + Macs (note that it’s just a Scratch viewer) and run it on their iPhones. Of course, if they do notice, all of those people will suddenly see their programs be banned from the platform they want to use.

  272. These are all good points (as usual), albeit representative of the maker/hacker end of the thought spectrum. Two things worth keeping in mind, however, are that (1) as computing devices become ever more inexpensive and powerful, we are gradually moving away from an ownership or cherished possession model of interacting with technology to more of an experiential model of interacting with technology. It is less about fetishistic ownership of a particular instance of technology and more about a particular device serving as a lens or ladle with which to dip into the flow of interesting ideas going by. Sure the walled garden will give way over time (as the AOL walled garden gave way to the chaotic open web), but that doesn’t mean the walled garden is evil and serves no purpose on the evolutionary path. Heck, despite how stupid and sterile the early AOL experience was, it did tame UseNet and introduce many many people to the internet in a way that the PC running mosaic may not have. (2) even if you don’t like the iPad because of its content limitations and un-openable case, you have to keep in mind that it has the potential to end the fine-grained mouse/windows/dialog box interface paradigm, so if you want to participate in, and stay current on, the development and evolution of the next computing interface revolution, the iPad is worth getting on those grounds alone. Its not perfect, but it’s the real deal. There is already a waiting list in my household for the hand-me-down first generation iPad 12 months from now….

  273. I’m sorry, this is some great writing, but it sounds more like you are fighting an inevitable future than making a good argument why it’s not going to happen. The tone just sounds very similar to old white people who refuse to believe that the United States isn’t “theirs” anymore. Just the same way you like trading comic books, I loved to trade hockey cards, but I won’t fight the fact that this is an innovative device and it is the future, even if I don’t necessarily like what it means for consuming certain content.

  274. Some good points from most posters in the thread, Cory included.

    I tend to believe, though, that Cory is overlooking the reason why people are interested in a gadget such as this one in the first place. They have unmet needs.

    Personally, I’d like an NYT subscription that I can read at the dining-room table, or in bed, without accumulating several trees per week worth of newspaper. Can I get by with a laptop or netbook? Sure, but is it the right tool for the job? I’ve come to believe that the answer is no.

    I was once in the PC/laptop-as-everything camp, but then I took a long business trip with my laptop recently. One of many such trips, but this one was different: upon returning home, it struck me, out of the blue, that I had scarcely touched the laptop’s keyboard the whole time I was gone.

    This was a bigger revelation to me than I can hope to get across in this thread. It made me realize that I didn’t want a laptop, I wanted a gigantic iPod Touch. Such a device would be the right tool for reading (unless you read in the sun, which you’re not supposed to do anyway), the right tool for web-surfing (everything from Reddit to porn), and a very interesting tool for various vertical applications that are likely to emerge.

    A few weeks after that, people on various forum started mumbling about a rumored Apple tablet. As an iPhone user, I knew instantly what that implied: they were about to build exactly what I was wishing for. I bought a few shares of AAPL the next day, and now my iPad’s all paid for. :-P

    As far as hacking and tinkering are concerned, I don’t believe any parallels can be drawn between a modern consumer device and an Apple II+ full of socketed TTL chips. Newsflash: current-generation electronics is no longer a hobby for the casual tinkerer. Unless you have an EE degree or years of equivalent experience in the field, you aren’t going to understand the first thing you see in the schematics for an iPad or iPhone. And unless you have the talent of a Bunnie Huang, not to mention your own SMD workstation and HDL tool licenses, you definitely aren’t going to improve the circuitry in any useful or interesting ways.

    You shouldn’t be any more pissed about the iPad’s closed firmware and hardware than you are about your dishwasher or TV set being unhackable. It’s an appliance, nothing more or less, and one that apparently has a large pent-up demand. There is no intrinsic morality, negative or positive, behind its appearance in the marketplace.

    In short: software hackers have utterly failed to deliver on the promise of computing for the masses, and hardware hackers have reached the end of the line. The age of “appliance operators” is at hand.

    And that’s OK. It’ll still be fun, I promise.

  275. Cory — Kids today like playing with the software more than the hardware. I wish we could go back to the days where we could tune up our cars, but with computerized systems in our autos, that isn’t happening near as much as in the past. But, people still have lots of fun customizing their cars.

    It is the same way with technology. Kids want to play and learn and modify and mashup the content, not as much modifying the guts of the technology. The way kids play with technology today is just different, not better or worse than in the past. I have the feeling that the iPad will allow more people to read more, view more and mashup more content, and that is not a “bad thing.”

  276. For the record, it’s today’s crop of computers–even Macs, but to a far lesser extent–that engenders a blissed-out pride of ignorance.

    People are downright giddy that they “don’t even know how to turn the damned thing on!” when it comes to computers.

    To say that the iPad is further infantilzing people is just another way of pandering to the command-line-geek’s anti-UI screeding that computers *should* be difficult to use and should be saved only for those who’ve climbed the mountain and gained the Wisdom.


    And I’m a software developer. Yes, “software developer”. Not “engineer”, not “programmer”. I used to be those, but time marches on and one’s approach to creating processes which run on computing hardware, as well at the level at which one creates processes which run on computing hardware changes.

    And by ‘changes’, I in fact specifically mean “becomes ever more indirect”.

    In Computer Math classes in HS in the early 80s, we had to type up punch cards with one line of FORTRAN per card.

    I’d already had a TRS-80 at home and was writing programs in BASIC.

    When those didn’t run fast enough, I spent $26.95 for a vinyl covered 3-ring binder which contained a cassette tape and a couple dozen 3-hole pages of documentation: the Z-80 Assembler product from Radio Shack. I taught myself how to program in Assembly Language so that the full-screen graphics (128×48) could flash/invert all at once. Just cuz.

    Then I got a Mac while at Carnegie Mellon and took a break from programming as I started off in EE and switched to Biological Sciences when I realized I hated engineering.

    I picked up programming again in the era when people became engineers, that is, to use existing libraries and a then-new thing, Application Frameworks, and the Mac’s Toolkit. Engineers wrote code AND used existing code they hadn’t written themselves and put it all together.

    By now, I depend on graphics professionals to create assets for icons and UI elements. I have personal expertise (and I daresay talent) in user experience design and development but rely on others for Visual Interface. I rely on Apple for a *VAST* treasure trove of software frameworks to complete my Mac and iPhone (and, soon, iPad) applications and thus I am more (and less, and different to) an Engineer, I am a Developer.

    I am much further removed nearly every I had to be involved with to complete my job in the past and yet there’s so much more to do.

    So to that Maker Manifesto? Glue works better in code, and “open” as a verb can mean a million different things.

    My point wasn’t to post my C.V. :)

    My point is that the machine should and has been rising to meet the user and not the other way around, and Apple has been best at maintaining that momentum.

    No one will be proud of being ignorant of not knowing how to use the iPad because almost everyone who starts using it will lose the not-knowing.

    Only those who stand apart and stomp their feet and make up outlandish “reasons” steering clear will keep the not-knowing.

    The willfully ignorant. I wonder if they’ll take the same joy and pride in it.

  277. I have been using a PC since DOS 2.1 days. I remember going to the Chicago PC users group meeting in the mid 80s. There were a couple of hundred people there and the feature presentation was from an account on a Lotus 1-2-3 macro he wrote that turned 1-2-3 into a word processor. Not the best use of his time perhaps but an impressive achievement non the less. The user’s group is long gone and nobody writes their own macros any more. The dumbing down of computers began with the original Mac, accelerated with Windows and has now gotten to the point where one of the most common questions on Microsoft’s help site is “What does it mean to download a file?” I agree with your point, but you may be tilting at windmills. That battle was lost a long time ago

  278. …. and i can’t service my Coffeemaker either. so i buy yet another new one.

    though it sogs up my comic books pretty badly.

  279. >> you can’t redistribute your applications except through eh AppStore

    You are simply wrong.

    I mentioned quite clearly up-thread that alternatives to the App Store have been alive and functioning for quite awhile. A *LOT* of misinformation and finger pointing absent actual information, and this inaccuracy gets kicked around the geekosphere ad infinitum. Want to develop apps for the iPhone and iPad and not run them through the App Store? 100% possible. 100% viable.

  280. There are two types of car owners, those who spend the least amount of money and don’t even bother changing the oil and the car nuts. The car nuts spend a lot of money customizing their machine and endless hours tinkering. If you sell cars and car parts, which customer do you want? Kids used to be the same way with their bicycles, customizing to look unique. Owning a gadget is no longer unique THAT IS WHY THEY MUST PUT “I” IN THE TITLE. Since an ipod, ipad, iphone is mass produced and owned by everyone, an illusion must be created to fool a large number of ignorant shoppers. As long as people choose to be fooled, companies will continue to profit.

  281. Good stuff Cory, as usual. My biggest hope from the launch of the iPad is all of the OTHER tablets which will be coming out in the next few months. Especially the dozen or so Linux-based tabbies that will be cheaper, faster , and open. Apple has been a design leader before (gui, mp3 players, smartphones, app store, etc) but they might have pushed their luck this time.
    I won’t buy one myself — though my employers may buy me one so I can maintain our web sites for it — but I will be buying one of the new tablets which actually works the way I want it to.

  282. I hate to be “that guy” but the people you’re so skeptical about existing, DO!

    My mom seriously spends her day working as a nurse and she has her own hobbies. When she wants to listen to some mp3s or do a few things on the computer, she doesn’t want any hassle. This device nor company has have zero obligation to do any of the things you listed. What people are missing is that this device was never aimed at geeks. People are still extremely bitter and forgetting that it was all their ASSUMPTION that this would be a geek toy.

    The comic tangent is just waving an angry fist a totally separate party. That’s something to yell at Marvel about. Its their decision to develop the application and change these things. This sort of blame-game was taught to me when I was 7 or 8 with the phrase “you can’t blame spoons for Rosie O’ Donnell” being fat.”

    If this had been developed and released by a smaller or company, or even a bigger company that just wasn’t Apple, there would be little-to-no ranting about this. You can tell me that Apple has some responsibility to deliver mind-blowing technology all you want but that won’t make it anymore true than it was 20 years ago. Its all personal expectation.

    The device has a market whether or not you believe those people exist. Some people just don’t and never will care for computers.

  283. It’s sad when one day the people you looked up to are not the people you “want” to look up to. Cory is sounding like a cranky old man with gas. Obviously, he’s not “getting” the iPad. It’s not for us geeks. Not by a long shot. Not unless you rethink what it is you do. It’s not a gadget that needs fixing or anything else. It’s a solution device. It provides solutions to various actions that you might use your phone or your laptop for. Will it be the end all, be all? Probably not. There’s always going to be room for improvement.

    Adapt or be rendered irrelevant.

  284. Listen up you freetards and netbook users and people who like to fiddle with their machines cause it makes them feel like they are productive. THE IPAD IS NOT A COMPUTER, so stop comparing it to one. It is a media device made for people who want read, listen to music, watch videos and a whole bunch of other stuff like games, email and the such. If you are the non-productive type and would rather write command line stuff and change out your graphics card, then stay away from it, it isn’t for you. Move on, ignore it, go build a linux box or something, burry your heads. It doesn’t matter what this thing is missing, its the ecosystem you fools. Its crazy how all the morons on the net have met in one place, and that place is here. If you all want to appear credible and have an ounce of integrity, try waiting till it comes out, use it, then give your narrow opinion. All this bitching is equivalent to someone arguing that the Nexus1 sucks cause it doesn’t have a big enough hard drive, i cant connect my USB to it, I cant install Linux on it, i cant change out the graphics card, my pussy hurts. wah wah wah!

    Now, if you would all please get back to fiddling with your computers and blowing us away with your tech savyself.

  285. Uh, maybe I’m just a luddite, but what is the IPad supposed to do?

    Then again, a laptop works for me, and I use a cell phone for phone calls….

  286. When I was in middle / high school, I thought that Macs were computers for dummies — all sealed up, no way to customize them or fool around with the system’s innards. Nothing to compete with my amber-screened desktop.

    Of course, over time I learned about Hypercard, about ResEdit and resource forks, about Max/MSP and video editing and dozens of system utilities and hacks that would manipulate my on-screen graphics (and on a few occasions completely melt down my system). And then, sometimes I’d want to use my computer to just read something, or write a paper, or crop an image.

    I realized I was a teen-aged curmudgeon. Any tool can be bent to your will. But if I had to compile my own software to get involved in audio/video experimentation, I’d probably be a drone in an insurance company by now.

    Why someone would energetically advocate for their readers to get involved in political issues like upcoming legislation but to write off an entire technology because it’s somehow impure is beyond me. A world in which those of us that want to make some mischief with the technology at our disposal are totally segregated from those who want to write reports and watch TV and read books is not very appealing — in fact, the strength of a site like BoingBoing is the way that novel and subversive ideas are interspersed with the kinds of visual candy and pop culture that lures a larger audience in. If my grandma came around for the cute video of baby otters and came away with knowledge of how to hack her toaster oven, then the world is a little better place — whether she’s using Safari on an iPad or IE5 on a totally-closed-to-her PC.

    1. @marlys wrote:
      Why someone would energetically advocate for their readers to get involved in political issues like upcoming legislation but to write off an entire technology because it’s somehow impure is beyond me.

      It’s the same issue. The legislation in question dealt with sweeping changes to UK copyright law. Corporate interests were lobbying to control the things that they “sell” us after we have “bought” them.

      What the big media companies really want is to stop the interactivity of the internet— they want it to be passive like TV not participatory like the internet is currently. They’ve spent years and vast sums to convince consumers that we don’t own what we’ve bought and it hasn’t worked. So now they are writing laws (UK Digital Economy Bill) and negotiating secret treaties (A.C.T.A.) to do it instead.

      Powerful corporations seeking proprietary protections are pushing weak kneed politicians to criminalize activities like “format shifting” and “sharing” and “jail breaking” to protect their walled gardens. Hacking won’t just result in voided warranties, it could end in jail time.

      Under the UK Digital Economy Bill Universities and Internet Cafes would have faced prosecution for any alleged copyright infringement done by anyone accessing their network, which would have killed public access wifi in the UK. Think of the impact that would have had on ipad functionality.

      Now that Cory is a Dad he probably doesn’t want to encourage anyone else’s children to risk jail time. Instead he’s using his not inconsiderable skills to raise awareness of these issues and to fight these bad laws.

      1. It’s the same issue. The legislation in question dealt with sweeping changes to UK copyright law. Corporate interests were lobbying to control the things that they “sell” us after we have “bought” them.

        I understand what the bill is about — what I’m saying is that one could write off legislators, saying they’ve all been bought out by corporate interests, and a great many people do. You (and Cory) seem to recognize that constructive engagement with political institutions is important to ensuring the future you’d like to see.

        Engaging with technology is just another way to assert your vision of how things should be.

        In the walled garden of the iPhone OS, it was hackers and jailbreakers that rejected the “web-apps-only” preference that the company had, and made the first installable apps and the Summerboard multi-page interface. Without those subversives, there’d be no App Store. Now, some people might think that the World O’ Apps is the wrong model for how people should interact with their devices, but technology will keep moving forward in the direction of those who take up productive engagement, and away from those who wave their hands in bitter rejection.

  287. @jokrausdu:

    “Kids today like playing with the software more than the hardware.”

    Um, that’s just not true. Many of the young artists I know have abandoned Apple for exactly the reasons Cory enumerates. I own a Mac, but don’t need it.

    Comparisons to cars are ridiculous. People who grew up taking their computers apart know that computers have ALWAYS had delicate, tiny parts. It’s not that Apple are looking out for the consumer. Shockingly, it’s actually MORE of a pain in the ass to have someone ELSE change your battery for you.

    So, yeah… buy an iPad. And then buy yourself some adult diapers.

  288. Thank you for being a voice of reason. This device would not contribute to my quality of life; it would only give me one more way to piss away time soporifically.

    Remember Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World? This thing is nothing more than a proprietary soma dispenser. Its purpose brings to mind a line from T.S. Eliot’s “Burnt Norton”: “Distracted from distraction by distraction.”

    I’m just about ready to give up all happy distracting shiny gadgets and emulate John the Savage, who might have said, “How beauteous iPad is! O brave new world, to have such technology in it!”

  289. The iPad is going to be the best e-reader and photo viewer for the money. I’m looking forward to taking several books with me on my next trip.

  290. Cory, I love your writing. I just finished Little Brother and in fact, I’ve read all of your novels and short stories on my iPhone. I think that, most of the time, you’re great. But I disagree with some of what you say here.

    By way of introduction, as a young boy my dad told me stories of building radio sets. Kids in his home town risked their lives to snake through the grass up to large radio transmission antenna towers, cut the copper radial wires, and then crawled away with the wires tied to their feet. They got the wire for the coils. They built receivers and later transmitters. They went to war, came back, and had children.

    When I was 10, my dad and I built a ham radio transmitter, but it was *from* *a* *kit*. So it wasn’t quite the same, but I got to learn how to put parts together, and by the time I was 15, I had torn it down, improved it, and rebuilt it several times. My friends thought I was simply “off the air,” but I was doing something that was to me even more fun.

    When the Apple II+ came out, I bought one, learned BASIC, and programmed. Got a IIe and then a IIGS. I fought getting a Mac as long as I could until my IIGS was no longer fixable, and then I ran Apple II programs in emulation.

    When my Mac broke, I saw that the capacitors on the mother board had swelled and burst, so I replaced them one by one until the computer ran once more. But this was not a good use of my time. As a child I replaced components on a chassis, but as a grownup doing so is nearly impossible. The boards are the new components. Plugging in boards now is what inserting a tube was years ago.

    When I can afford one, I will buy an iPad. It is not because I’ve lost my tinkering soul, or because I’ve sold out. I understand that it is great to have control over our devices, but I see the iPad (and, to a lesser extent, the iPhone) as giving us more control over our world. We can write programs easily, and we can ignore the interface enough to concentrate on the content.

    I commute on the subways and buses three hours a day. I read constantly, more than one novel a week. I live in New York City, but my rent is less than the cost of a (32GB) iPad. Yet I will try to save some money for one. It will give me access to the world that I can’t afford any other way.

    In the future, perhaps the hardware will become so powerful that it will become insignificant, and the software will rule the device. I always worry that our information and our freedoms will be co-opted, but I see having access to more of the world’s knowledge as being a deterrent to that. Most people don’t want to tinker and probably couldn’t. With the increasing complexity of our devices, we run the real risk to having to devote our time to dealing with the machine as opposed to dealing with information exchange. The iPad may help to give us greater access, and for this I am thankful.

    When all the world’s information was delivered over the air on 7 TV channels plus radio, I had no idea how much was not delivered. Now I have some appreciation for how much I can never hope to comprehend, but I also have a hunger for more. Some day, maybe in a decade, the tools will change. The next decade’s tablet will be out hammer, the smartphone our screwdriver.

  291. Apple and its cronies will soon go the way of the polaroid.The world is changing and changing real fast.Some of these companies bundles a lot things people do not need and make them pay for them. I can see the end coming real fast.This article is a classic keep it up and more to your elbow.

  292. The author is a tinkerer and, whereas I admit this is a point of view, it’s certainly not mine. I’d rather have something that works without having to futz with it to keep it going. That way I can concentrate on what I am DOING with it.

    I had a succession of British bikes that I loved, an old BSA, AJS and others that I’ve forgotten. So I understand about tinkering. But in those days, it didn’t matter if I was late for anything. I didn’t have any appointments or deadlines to speak of. Now I ride a Yamaha 125. It’s fast, efficient and doesn’t need its tappets adjusted every few miles.

    This is the attraction of the iPod, iPhone and iPad, an OS that works, is fast, efficient, doesn’t need defragging or any other kind of maintenance. I don’t care that it doesn’t have an owner-replaceable battery and if apps open as fast on the iPad as they do on the iPod and iPhone, it doesn’t matter that multi-tasking is limited. And good riddance to Flash! It’s been a source of trouble since it first installed itself on my computer.

    Unfortunately, I live in Japan, where the iPad won’t be available for a few more weeks!

    The iPad is EXACTLY what I want.

    I want one NOW!

  293. My first computer was built with a soldering iron in the mid-’70s. I also used to do 100% of my own car repairs and maintenance, from tire pressure to head gaskets.
    It occurred to me today while driving that this is a GREAT time to not need to be a Car Guy. People who barely know which end of a screwdriver to point at a paint can are driving as cheaply as dedicated gearheads because intimate knowledge of auto technology is not necessary any longer to just use the thing on the cheap.

  294. >> Apple and its cronies will soon go the way of the polaroid.

    You literally could not be more wrong.

    Of all of the remarks on this thread, I nominate yours as Most Wrong. It’s almost like you descended into the deepest and most ancient mine of wrong and hewed out the most resplendent and flawless nugget of wrong ever unearthed in the history of wrong. Your wrong is the Hope Diamond of wrong, except the size of a basketball. A basketball the size of two basketballs. People will come from all over the planet and pay admission to view your wrong. It should be in the Louvre.

    >> The overly simplified way of looking at it: Apple as a company is now worth more than Walmart, the world’s largest retailer.


    Couple of weeks ago, Apple’s market cap was only exceeded by three US companies: Microsoft, Walmart, and Exxon.

    Today it’s just two.

    And this with the iPad not yet released. By 2012, when the iPad has sold 75,000,000, there will only be one company with a market cap greater than Apple. And it won’t be Microsoft.

  295. You know, the concepts in this article are similar to people I know that like to tinker with and work on their cars. They can’t imagine people wouldn’t want to improve and intake manifold or whatever.

    However, most people in the world aren’t that into cars — they want their vehicles to work without them ever having to lift the hood. That’s what the iPad does for casual computer users – it frees them from the bondage of their towers. I see the frustration on my older parents faces every time they have to deal with a software update or driver issue.

    It’s patently ridiculous to suggest other people shouldn’t buy something because you don’t like it. This is a perfectly good product that isn’t for everyone — but, it is for a lot of people. The existence of the iPad doesn’t magically make open system machines disappear. They’ll still exist — people just won’t be forced to deal with them now.

  296. I too don’t like products that have been designed to frustrate human curiosity, in so far as the iPad has been deliberately designed to prevent tinkering. The iPad will no doubt spawn many other ideas and technical solutions designed to defeat iPad’s/Apple’s defensive walled garden philosophy.

    I am also unsure how secure it will be, when accessing bank accounts. How will it handle issues of how the device retains or copies sensitive data, such as biographical info and passwords etc.

    I also can’t see much reason to carry a laptop, a mobile and one more thing like an iPad. A nice & cheaper light laptop will be able to do much the same as an iPad and a lot’s more besides.

    A never really used a computer until I owned one, which helped me develop skills that have improved my life and made me more employable. I imagine the iPad won’t produce these sort of transferable benefit’s, except maybe making me seem more dumb and trendy conned-sumer.

  297. Cory, next time you feel the need to crack something open and make it work better, I’ve got a pile of old smartphones I can send you. I don’t really tinker with them anymore, since my 1st generation iPhone does things for me that are actually useful. I use it everyday to create new things I can share with my friends. I’ll even share my iPhone with you, so you can look up the schematics for those old phones.

  298. I agree with everything except the gripe that the hardware wasn’t easily modifiable. Those days went away with the coming of the handheld super-computer.

    Biggest problem in the lot is, as Cory put it, the walmartization of software distribution.

  299. I feel that the core question of the post and the debate around it is “permanent ownership”. People want to hold to things forever and any potential danger to that permanency causes dramatic reaction.

    What if device breaks? What if Apple ceases to exist and i*Stores disappears? What if I will need to buy things in order to continue using the device? And, ultimately (the one from which I suffer the most), what if it becomes antiquated? Thing is, 3 years from now, most of us will move on to a new TV set, mobile phone, music, books and (ah) favorite web sites.

    Look at the Internet, the thing itself and all the stuff which is on it is virtual. Can you open it? Where are the screws? Where’s the glue? Is it permanent? Can you own it? Is it useful? And Internet is what makes iPad worthwhile; whole point of iPad is to be an interface to get to the services which are provided through the Internet with the least hassle possible.

    I believe that with any degree of luck, in a couple of years, majority of commenters on this thread will have an iPad or something alike and will use it as primary means of using the Internet and doing their work.

    1. I feel that the core question of the post and the debate around it is “permanent ownership”. People want to hold to things forever and any potential danger to that permanency causes dramatic reaction.

      Perhaps, but there’s also a block of people who think, “Whatever” to the whole debate about ownership, DRM, etc. All they see is ranting and raving by zealots.

      It’s kind of like watching politics. iBaggers versus the Right To Copy folk, red in the face yelling at each other.

  300. @430 “So, yeah… buy an iPad. And then buy yourself some adult diapers.”

    I say, what a splendid idea!

  301. I think within 2 months, there will be a jailbreak – and once that comes out – the world of ipad will be so much bigger – think multitasking, hacking a bluetooth webcam on it, or even hack a gps into it.

    For hackers, I think the ipad is an inviting target.

  302. Re: Gobo (way at the top)

    >No files. No windows. No clicking. Just apps. And, like it or not, that fills a fascinating little gap that nobody’s really thought about before.

    Except maybe Palm!

  303. I find this whole argument quite hilarious. In fact, just one step shy of one of John McCain’s “get those kids off my lawn” speeches.

    First, let’s take the mother argument. My mother was the valedictorian of every class she ever attended, and she hasn’t lost a step. When it comes to the Times crossword or a Scrabble championship, she’s always a threat, and since my father passed away she’s become extremely competent at handling stocks, bonds, and other aspects of finance. But unless I’ve been for a recent visit, her computer is likely to be turned off, dust-covered, and sitting in the corner. Ask her why and she’ll tell you — it either crashed and then gave her some message about recovering from a “serious error” or she was confronted with a screen warning her that she might have viruses (just click here for another tool to be safe!) or something she’d done caused the screen to be suddenly festooned with pop-up ads that got in the way of the few emails and web pages that interest her. Could she figure out enough to solve these issues? Of course she could. But -she’s not interested-. She wants the device to work when she needs it, not confront her with messages that are intentionally written to be frightening, and simply stay out of her way. Insisting that she bare-knuckle her way through a frustrating experience because it’s somehow good for her isn’t just silly — it’s insulting. It’s not infantilizing the computer, it’s infantilizing the -user- by demanding that they meet some arbitrary standard of geekdom before they can tread the sacred ground of the ‘net.

    Then there’s the “I can’t open it up” issue. Of course you can. Unnumbered sites have already done so and unnumbered more will have matched them by tomorrow. And if you should break the iPad while traipsing through its innards, the protection provided by Apple against your mistakes will be exactly what it was in Apple II days — none at all.

    Finally, there’s the idea that the box is somehow closed, and that there’s nothing for an iPad user to do but consume. That’s the most laughable idea of all. There are far more — FAR more — people out there writing applications for the iPad already, than there ever were for the Apple II. And the cost of setting yourself up with a minimal iPad development environment is little more than the inflation-adjusted price of adding a second disk drive to the Apple II. If you’re concerned that there’s not a hypercard like application on the iPad, there’s a simple solution — write one.

    I’ll admit that I wasn’t one of those Apple II kids. I bought mine a couple of years out of college because, well, I’m old and that’s when it came out. But now I see that I should have spent my time whining that “kids today should have to make their own computers on breadboards, and how are they ever going to learn when they have BASIC instead of toggle switches?”

    There is every opportunity to be creative on the iPad — and far more incentive to do so than on most any device made in the past. At a time when the market for creative software on the PC is on extremely rocky ground, I welcome a new platform that will bring us a whole new generation of smart kids.

  304. hi. i got thru about 40 or so great comments. couldn’t do the whole 440, so it’s probably been said already.

    i think you’re worrying about nothing. for example: digital comics are still traded world wide by the fans. a friend has gigs worth of comics on his iphone. he buys comics in the store and downloads them from torrents. i think he had the entire Ultimates series in his pocket. pretty amazing considering the iphone is just as ‘locked down’ as the ipad.

    i dislike DRM as much as you do. it’s days are numbered and i believe even apple knows this. the dinosaurs will die out as we are all sure they will and something new and amazing will take their place.

    the ipad fills a niche so big, so obvious that no tech company could see it. a forest and trees thingy.

    i myself will keep my mac pro tower v1 and continue to get as much power out of it as i can for the next 5 years. however, it’ll be a tough thing to not buy my wife, my mother, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, my granddad, my old auntie who has trouble with her mac book that only runs skype, my non-tech head brother-in-law, my nephew, my doctor, my father-in-law or any other person i know who doesn’t have a time to earn a computer science degree through trial and error.

    if it works as promised, i’ll probably never get a phone call from any of these people again. except my wife. asking me to put down the mouse and come to bed.

  305. Cory, you were longing for the good old days of open platforms and networks (and Jonathan Zitrain shows us WHY it is important to be worried about this loss, in The Future of the Internet and How to Stop it, an excellent book), BUT…

    You highlight your example of Hypercard as what was needed then, and is needed now.

    Do you remember, then, how Neal Stephenson reacted back in those good old days, to the introduction to the “closed box” Macintosh and it’s simplistic GUI, taking the command line out of the hands of all those users who needed to eat their command line oatmeal and like it, by god?

    He wrote “In the beginning was the command line,” an essay that to the word adopted the very same reasoning and tone as your post above. He wrote it ABOUT the technology you are highlighting as being part of the “good old days” that we should hearken back to.

    Was Stephenson wrong about the Mac and its GUI back then? Are interfaces of simulation still inherently weaker and more appliance-like than interfaces of calculation (Turkle)?

    Is it so WRONG to desire ease of use, yes, for my 96-year-old grandmother who loves to look at pictures too, and still can’t figure out that digital photo frame we got her for Christmas a few years ago?

  306. wow. 461 comments and counting.

    Thanks Cory. You hit the nail on the head. Basically, the iStore concept sucks. And the iPad is built to the Appliance model. Appliances are useful, but ultimately not enjoyable.

    Yesterday I was with friends, and the inevitable iPhone discussion started. (OK, I started it.) But it wasn’t about the wonderful creative or even useful things you can do with an iPhone. No. It was “look at this cute app, it makes cow noises”. No kidding.

    And I think the same will be true of the iPad. Lots of people will get one. And they’ll play with them a bit and download some dumb (free) apps. And then they’ll be left with this vague feeling of dissatisfaction. And the sad thing is, most won’t know why.

  307. I think you should work to decouple media rights holders rights from the media they create, or work to change the laws that protect those rights as opposed to complaining about the side effects of those rights.

    Some people believe that every person that consumes their media should pay for it and under current law they have that right. They usually use DRM or etch their work into very large tablets of stone. Apple makes some products that people use to consume media, they don’t own that media, they make the device that people consume the media on. This is the world.

    I applaud you for insisting on not having DRM on your works, but that is your choice and works for you. It’s just a little bit closed minded to think that that everybody should do as you do.

    As for all the other stuff in the article, it’s a bit academic. People buy better mouse traps Apple has a decent record in the mouse trap business, the market will decide to what degree the iPad improves that record or not. The only thing that I really take exception to is ascribing motive to actions. Is apple trying to make something easy to use or do they really think of their customers as infants? I don’t know, and I know you couldn’t know, no one can know except the people directly involved with the product development.

  308. For all the words typed here, nothing speaks as honestly as Cory’s choice to run a picture of Steve Jobs turned upside down as the illustration for this post.

    You can take it as reasoned criticism if you like, but it sure looks like a tantrum to me.

    I’ve never, ever had any drm’d music on my iPods, and I’ve cracked into each of them to replace/fiddle with parts. My iPhone is on T-Mobile and has both legit and jailbroke apps on it. I’ve never been unable to do whatever I wanted to do with it, and I’m not a hacker or tech genius. And the UI that Apple sold me with their hardware is easily superior to anything I can get elsewhere, as far as I know.

    So even though I share Cory’s openness/maker ethos, I don’t get what he’s going on about. Buy the iPad if it’s a tool that does something useful for you. If it isn’t, don’t buy it, and stop lecturing everyone else about it.

    And really, Steve Jobs upside down? Juvenile. Beneath the usual standards of Boingboing.

  309. Wow… I thought I was crabby about the iPad, but this takes the cake! I will be excited about playing around with one, but I won’t buy it either. Steve Jobs has gone too far with shutting out the world to his precious new device. The Flash was the deal breaker for me. I’m going to hold out for the HP Slate, or better yet, the Microsoft Courier. Thanks

  310. Wow, the chord that has been struck here in this comments section sounds like a grand piano in a bonfire! Apparently this is a hot button item for a lot of us. I really appreciate the views Cory is expounding. But, clearly the case for why< \i> :

    “The real issue isn’t the capabilities of the piece of plastic you unwrap today, but the technical and social infrastructure that accompanies it. < \b>”

    … is true hasn’t been sufficiently made for the vast majority. Most criticisms have avoided this point, but it is the one that needs to be articulated most, particularly the social part, (which of course is inextricably entwined with the tech).

    …but aside from all controversy, I’m stoked to check out this Android tablet due to be out later this month :


  311. Some people poo-pooed Cory’s ability to critique the thing before release. Yet a great many more are raving about how well it does this and that– before the release. How do you know?

    The advertising has certainly convinced a great many people. Others defend Apple’s planned obsolescence because they’ve been lucky enough to have an ipod battery last longer than expected. Someone mentioned how we all buy TVs every 3 years… uh, why do we need to? The refurbished TV I bought when I got out of college lasted twelve years, then the colours started to go. I’ve had it’s replacement for 15 years. Why do people accept products that are so badly made?

    Trees are organic. They grow. You can make paper from them You can make new paper from old paper. When the paper of the trees are done, they break down and provide nutrients for new things to grow. Computers, Iphones, blackberrys, TVS, ipads — all the electronic toys– are not organic. Filling up our landfills with these things that don’t break break down easily and are considered hazardous waste is far worse for our environment than paper.

    Corporations who make products that get thrown out when the battery dies are hardly environmentally friendly.

      1. Nope. Used a computer. Running XP, which is no longer supported by the manufacturer. I’m gearing up to switch to Linux rather than upgrade to Windows7 because I will not allow software on my computer that will phone home without my permission. It is MY computer.

        My laptop is a refurbished IBM Thinkpad so old that the bios age fails the cutoff. The hard drive is so small there is no currently supported Microsoft OS that will fit. Fortunately it works on Ubuntu so I don’t have to throw it out.

        There’s nothing wrong with computers, but they’re a heck of a lot harder to compost than Kleenex.

  312. The iPad is a great gadget. It’s *worth* $100.

    Unfortunately, it *costs* $600 and more.

    Now must wait for the $99 version.

    How long will that take?

  313. ouch. I have tried five times to comment. perhaps that is a comment on how Cory doesn’t get that most people (even geeks) would prefer to interact with someone who doesn’t require nonsensical and multiple attempts to state a simple preference. Your CAPTCHA doesn’t work, and I can’t comment easily. That’s a lot different than swiping my finger across a screen and simply and securely adding my comments. Ain’t that a unique proposition?

  314. Well Cory, looks like you hit a open nerve with some people. I thank you for writing a good critical article on the iPad and for that matter iPhone business model. The reasons you give why you don’t like that model is the exact reason why people like Rupert Murdoch do like the Apple business model. It’s closed and creates artificial scarcity. An issue that almost no one answers in the other responses.

  315. >> There’s nothing wrong with computers, but they’re a heck of a lot harder to compost than Kleenex.

    Have you seen the iPad teardown (http://news.cnet.com/2300-13579_3-10003019.html)? There’s a lot less to recycle than in a ThinkPad.

    And I encourage everyone who talks about recycling their tech to get serious and do some legwork to make sure their items don’t end up in China getting broken open by a 10 year-old with a hammer. This is a reputable source for information (http://ban.org/). Most companies and organizations that brand themselves as recyclers only aggregate the tech and ship it for cash on cargo carriers to a third world nation where it is dismantled by hand. You really have to shepherd your tech to the right place and not just dump it into some bin and then congratulate yourself for “doing the right thing.”

    A lot of people say they care. Most don’t.

    1. If you’re looking for discussions about the iPad’s sustainability, HuffPo has a brief article here:


      Apple made some laudable decisions: recycled aluminum, no PVC, mercury-free and arsenic-free displays, and energy-efficient backlighting. They’re all nice steps for an electronic gadget.

      But I have trouble balancing this against the short life-cycle* of Apple’s iProducts. If users latch onto the “buy a new one every year” approach that Apple seems to favor with the iPod and iPhone, then those small sustainability advances mentioned above mean very little. Coupled with the difficult (and likely expensive) to replace battery and the restrictive “adhesives and special fasteners” construction (which makes them prohibitively difficult to dismantle and recycle) and Apple’s sustainability measures start to look a bit like greenwashing.

      * When I say that iProducts have a short, 1-year life-cycle, I’m not claiming that the products break down after one year. I’m saying that Apple encourages users to replace them with a new model every year, in order to keep up with the “latest and greatest” innovations. A soon as the consumer stops using a product, its life-cycle is over, even if it’s still completely functional.

      To me, that’s the epitome of the Apple experience: two scoops of “Wow! That’s really cool!” followed by two more of “Damn! That really stinks.” My enthusiasm is higher, and my disappointment deeper than with almost any other company.

      1. * When I say that iProducts have a short, 1-year life-cycle, I’m not claiming that the products break down after one year. I’m saying that Apple encourages users to replace them with a new model every year, in order to keep up with the “latest and greatest” innovations. A soon as the consumer stops using a product, its life-cycle is over, even if it’s still completely functional.

        Hunh? So you live in a world where nobody ever passes on an older device, nor ever considers selling one on eBay, nor does anything but trash it? Glad I don’t live there.
        And beyond that… material recycling?

        Not to mention that Apple is doing nothing different to pretty much every company in this respect, good or bad. And just how is a company supposed to stay in business, keep bringing better products to market etc without doing this? Imagine the screams of “but IB-Apple-soft hasn’t introduced a new widget in three years!” – just look at the complaints about how MacBooks are months old and due for a revamp.

        1. C’mon now, Tim. That’s hardly a fair reading of my post. A less than charitable reader, may assume that you’re more interested in scoring cheap rhetorical points than you are in having an honest discussion. Let’s treat each other with respect, and I’m sure we’ll both learn something from our conversation.

          You said: “Hunh? So you live in a world where nobody ever passes on an older device, nor ever considers selling one on eBay, nor does anything but trash it?”

          You know this isn’t true. Nearly everyone in my world has either received a used piece of electronics or given one to someone else. Looking around my office I can count half a dozen such items, from a second-hand monitor to 40 year-old desk lamp that used to belong to my grandfather (which, strangely enough, look really cool with a twisty modern florescent bulb instead of and old-fashioned incandescent. Now if I can just make time to update the wiring…the scrawny, not-to-UL-specs wire worries me).

          In my previous post I was simply pointing out the dissonance between the sustainable steps taken by Apple (recycled aluminum, PVC-free wiring, mercury-free display, arsenic-free glass) and the marketing philosophy that encourages users to completely replace their gadgets every year.

          I realize that there are a lot of companies that do this. But people rarely praise Apple for following the pack or being a solidly average company. As a innovative leader, they have the potential to do a lot of good. But in this area, they’ve chosen not to. In fact, it almost feels like they’re trying to push the envelope of disposable technology. To me, that’s very disappointing.

    2. @Trotsky My Thinkpad is somebody else’s discard that was refurbished by a small local company. By purchasing it I’ve kept it out of the dump. By loading Ubuntu it runs, and I’ve almost finished my first draft.

      @Absinthe I’m sorry to imply your site is Flash dependent… you said you had flash problems. That’s part of the problem you face…. being locked in for that content.

      When you make a website you can do it any way you like. Anyone can decide to do their site any way. I know many people love flash, and so some sites are completely flash dependent. I also know well the constraints of DIY websites.