Friday, January 29, 2010

The iPad and Apple...

*Warning: This post will be somewhat nerdy. You have been warned...

So, the Apple iPad was introduced the other day, and what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't pay it some sort of lip service? The iPad looks neat, but I don't think I am in its target demographic. I think the iPad is more for people who just can't seem to find that answer between an iPhone and a netbook. It looks cool, and I am sure it will be as popular as it is well-designed.

On the other hand, the iPad finally gave me some insight into why I tend to shy away from Apple products. It has taken me a while to figure out why this is, so I will give some background:

The very first Apple product I ever owned was the 1st generation iPhone, and I INSTANTLY fell in love with it. It was gorgeous, effective, and everyone wanted to see it, play with it, and try it out (please don't take that sentence out of context). There was a very high level of wow factor that went with it, and it still continues to this day. People still get geeked out about my 2 year old slow, EDGE connection iPhone. But I slowly but surely soured on it, and I couldn't figure out why. I still like it, but I have spent the last year or so diligently searching for a replacement phone, but nothing I could find would make me want to switch badly enough.

Then Google announced the Nexus One...I liked it...I want it. But they don't have it on AT&T. Maybe they eventually will, and I will probably keep my iPhone until it dies, but that has more to do with keeping the $20 monthly data plan that I will have to get rid of (in lieu of a $30 plan to go the the 3G model).

As I was following the live-blogging of several tech sites as they spewed reproductive sauce all over Steve Jobs and his latest Jesus-Contraption, it hit me why I have soured on Apple. They completely design their products as a gateway to get you to buy more of their shit. In my life, I have bought less than 5 songs on iTunes (I prefer Amazon), and have never bought any movies off of iTunes. I have purchased Apps for my iPhone, but have only paid my own money for two (MLB at Bat, to watch Cubs games, and I am T-Pain, because it was on sale).

I just don't want to be locked into what they tell me to. That is what bugs me about the whole thing. The iPad has been completely designed to suck the money out of your wallet, one tv show or song or book or app at a time. Don't get me wrong, the business model is absolute, unrequited genius. But it isn't for me. I don't like being told I can't have Flash on my phone. I don't like having to convert shows so my iPhone can view them. I don't like being told that I can't use Google Voice on my phone. I simply don't like being told what to use, and that is what makes Apple a bit sour in my book.

On the other side of the coin, that is what makes Apple great. They make things incredibly easy to use. I have seen a few posts that the target audience for the iPad is the baby boomers, and this makes perfect sense. I can imagine my Mom absolutely loving the iPad, because everything is easy to read, easy to buy, no drivers to load, no extra plugins to download, nothing. It is all there, easy as pie to use, and iTunes would make it easy for her to just grab whatever she wants and go.

I, on the other hand, like to have control over what I do and use. I really like my Sony e-reader because I can download books from my library for free and read them. Yes, it takes a bit of technical knowledge, but I can do it and it only costs me a bit of effort. I can't do that on a Kindle...they want me to siphon my paycheck to them to make it easy. I want a Nexus One because I can do what I want to on it...I am not under anyone's thumb. I bought an AppleTV, which I NEVER use the software that Apple provided for me. I immediately hacked it and put Boxee on it, because Boxee allows me to do what I want to do, not what Apple wants me to do.

So, thank you, Apple, for making me realize that I completely despise your walled garden approach. I know that approach works for you, and I can appreciate that. It just isn't for me. I like to do what I want...which is probably why I won't ever buy one of your laptops, desktops, or the iPad, no matter how much my brother-in-law wants me to*.

*My brother in law is a huge apple fanboy who buys pretty much everything they put out right away. He also knows 10x more about computers and gadgets than anyone I know, myself included, but this approach seems to work for him.
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