Why I Won’t Be Buying the iPad

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about Apple’s latest release: the iPad.  I watched this announcement with a lot of anticipation, hoping to see a revolutionary device that would really, truly change the way that we interact with our digital content.

What did I see instead?  An iPod touch with a bigger screen.  And nothing more.  Mr. Jobs, I will definitely not be buying this new device.

Ryan Anson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In his keynote address, Jobs said that

The iPad “is so much more intimate than a laptop, and it’s so much more capable than a smartphone with its gorgeous screen,” Mr. Jobs crowed. “It’s phenomenal to hold the Internet in your hands.”

And yet, you must be able to find an open WiFi connection to get to this Internet.  It’s true, I’ll admit, that a 3G iPad is coming (at some later date), but this 3G iPad is $130 more expensive than a non-3G version, and must be used on a GSM network (i.e. not Verizon or Sprint, who arguably have better data networks).  Plus, the data accessed in this method must be paid for separately.  Not good, Steve.

Jobs also went on to say that the iPad is much better than netbook computers.

Mr. Jobs also dismissed netbook computers, another scaled-down device that seeks to fill a limited role. “Netbooks aren’t better at anything,” he said.

I respectfully disagree.  Netbooks are a great compromise for people who must use their mobile device to both consume content and create content.  At the same time as the iPad was released, a new version of iWork (Apple’s Office competitor) that is optimized for the iPad.  It was demonstrated at the event, but even Steve admitted that if you really have to do some work, you’ll want the external keyboard (an option, but at some considerable expense).

It should be said, for the sake of disclosure, that this very post was written on a Netbook – which is more than up to the task of authoring a blog post.

He also touted the ability to run all of the iPhone apps from the App Store.  This is great – because there are lots of great, well-done, and worth-the-money apps in there.  But, here’s a secret – your iPod touch can run all of those apps, too, and for only $199.

Here’s the single biggest downfall for the iPad: inability to make phone calls.  This is absolutely crucial!  Most people I know no longer maintain a landline, instead relying on their cell for all of their phone needs (myself included).  If I have to carry another device in addition to the iPad to make a phone call, you can bet that I’ll be looking to fill all my needs with one device (and not the iPad!).  In fact, I already did.

What Steve Jobs is missing is that people rely on their mobile devices to get them through their time away from a more powerful, generally desktop or large laptop, computer.  Very few people rely solely on their mobile device for everything – this would be nearly impossible.  What people really want out of their mobile devices is the ability to make and receive phone calls, receive emails (and send short responses, if needed), and generally keep up with their world (Facebook, Twitter, News, Sports, and a few games and/or distractions).  That’s it.  This is why the iPhone and Blackberry have been so successful – they fill this need exactly.

And, this is why the iPad will not succeed nearly as much as Mr. Jobs would hope.  Add in the fact that Apple is resistant to Google’s Google Voice service (which would allow calls to be made from a device lacking a cellular connection), and you have a recipe for disaster.

It will be incredibly interesting to see how many of these new iPads get sold, especially the expensive, 3G versions.  I know that Apple won’t be getting my $499, especially when I can get this netbook and a new phone for the same price.

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