Giant Leap Sideways for the iPad

The media is all abuzz this morning about Apple’s announcement of the iPad. This latest example of chrome-laden technology is being touted as a ‘magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price.’ Cue trumpets.

While I, too, was initially drawn like a moth to the pretty, pretty lights and shiny, moving pictures I quickly began to reflect on the actual usefulness of this device compared to things we already have … like netbooks, laptops, Apple’s own iPhone or iPod or for that matter … that established technology of books.

My conclusion was that with our economy such as it is and everyone trying to find new ways of cutting back, the iPad feels odd. It’s wi-fi capable but to get the full impact of the device I’m going to need to subscribe to AT&T’s G-3 network — and can I really afford another subscription right now? On top of that, I’m still going to have to pay for the book once I have the device. It will delivered directly to my device and instantly in my hands — but do I really want to pay the $500+subscription rates just because I can’t wait a day or two for the actual book?

Everyone in the publishing industry has been holding their breath waiting for this announcement by Apple — it has yet to be seen whether consumers who already have these same capabilities in notebooks, netbooks and smartphones will flock to the ‘dream’ that is iPad. Apple wants you to believe that the iPad is THE way to get your news and information … man, I can certainly understand why they want you to believe that … but I just think it’s blinding chrome and hype. Having just painfully awakened to the hangover given us from the age of ‘I want ergo I get’ … do we really NEED this?

Not only that, but in an effort to slice the pie into the smallest of proprietary pieces, I understand that the browser on the iPad is NOT flash compatible. This means that the browser will not play well with others on the internet. Think you’ll be watching television programming from such places on the internet as Hulu or Youtube? Think again. Apparently you can play in Apples back yard only with toys you buy at Apple.

As for me, the entire thing feels like a giant leap sideways for mankind — new technology that adds more expense and complication to our lives without significantly improving the experience itself. I am a big believer in new media and I’m exploring the realms of e-books as a paradigm for future publishing. I’m  sure my books will be available soon on the iPad … but I just don’t see it as a threat to all other means of reading that it is being heralded to be.

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