iPad, Brand Loyalty, And Perceived Value Rant

There should be an image here!Over the past few weeks, the debate over the value of the iPad has been raging on. There are those who believe it redefined the face of computing, and others who think it’s a tablet computer. Who cares? I am among those in the middle. I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid, but having tried one myself not too long back, I would say it is visually very impressive. However, there are some “buts” that should be addressed.

iPad changed computers overnight. Depends on what you use it for.

Unlike the switch to using a mouse or going from exclusively a command line to the adoption of a GUI front to operating systems, we are talking about a change from a foldable, long-battery-life option to a non-foldable option. The performance on the iPad vs. the netbooks available out there are arguably stronger given the speed of the experience. But trying to convince the masses that a touch screen keyboard is better than that of a QWERTY is based  on preference at best.

I have owned both a modern BlackBerry and an iPhone 3G phone. I still own the iPhone 3G. While I love the App Store, software, and flow of the iPhone’s working ability, the battery life and keyboard make me want to cry. Unless you have some bone-thin fingers, I think you know what I am talking about.

I do, indeed, have days where I wish I could blend the two devices into one another. Perhaps this will happen when I finally have enough of AT&T and move to Verizon to buy an Android phone — something that I think can blend many of these good experiences together.

Moving on to the iPad vs. a netbook. Again, the App Store, software, and overall abilities of the iPad are, simply put, mind blowing. I love the apps that I have tried and the battery life is good. But for many like me, asking me to use a touch screen keyboard is a deal breaker over that of a netbook. I honestly have no problem with the device other than this.

To be ultimately fair, Apple provides a separately sold keyboard option for iPad users. But even if I buy this, is the iPad not merely redundant to much of the iPhone experience I already have? Because I don’t take my netbook everywhere with me, it would stand to reason I wouldn’t tote an iPad with a separate keyboard everywhere either. I want to use it in areas where I might want to do some writing or browsing, which both a netbook and iPad do very well. Sadly, though, no one is more compelling than the other. Well, unless I want to enjoy one of those pesky thousands of video sites using Flash, that is. But Apple is taking care of this, right? Well, not so much… perhaps with Hulu and YouTube.

Choice wins the day.

For myself, I want a computer that plays by my rules, not me playing by the rules of any one given company. This means if I want to plug in something via USB, I don’t want to have to convince myself of why it’s not needed or how I can bypass this need through some song and dance. I want no BS compatibility — the kind used with the rest of the world of computing.

I can see nearly unlimited venues and instances where the iPad and other tablet computers can be of great benefit as a solid supplement to modern computing. But stating that an iPad is the future of computing without taking into account that not everyone is going to do things the Apple way is rather naive.

I am thankful that we have the iPad as an option, just as I am thrilled that we have netbooks for those who want a varied experience. Difference is a good thing. Not following along to a single Pied Piper is even better. Before Apple fans descend on this post with the usual “you must have Steve” nonsense, realize your folly in this. We own multiple Apple products; my wife owns and happily uses an iMac. We both enjoy many aspects of our iPhones. And finally, I have no issue with the iPad. My only gripe is the silly back and forth statements like “the iPad is stupid because…” or “iPad is the best computer out there.” Both are, factually, nonsense.

Defining your preferred user experience as “everyone’s best choice,” is backwards thinking and limits you as a person. The fact that we live in a world with multiple choices for phones and tablets, netbooks and desktops, is nothing short of awesome. Thank you, free market competition.

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