I watched the live streaming provided by MacBreak Weekly of the announcement of the Apple iPad. "The internet in your hands" is a phrase that was repeated several times during the presentation as well as in the promotional video. Granted, the iPad may be a triumph of engineering. The UI is pretty amazing, even if it resembles a giant iPod Touch.
However, here are the show stoppers (of the "I will not be buying one" variety) for me:
1. The usual Apple vendor lock-in. A few protesters were outside the event from FSF's "Defective By Design" campaign. They were there to remind people about Apple's support of Digital Rights Management (DRM). Despite Steve Jobs' self-described dislike of DRM, he makes it very easy to sell DRM'd media and apps and very difficult to use non-DRM'd. It's pretty obvious that the proliferation of Apps stores does not serve the cause of freedom, since it requires that consumers trade their freedoms for shopping convenience.
2. No Adobe Flash support. The FSF would disagree with me here, but I need Flash support in order to view much meaningful content on the internet. Apple made sure that YouTube was supported, despite the lack of a Flash player for the iPad. What about all the other sites, especially those using Flash to deliver video across all OS platforms, Linux included? It is worth noting that there is also development of a free alternative Flash player, Gnash.
3. Limited "hackability". Again, Apple actively discourages legitimate (as in "not illegal") hardware and software hacking such as putting Linux on a device. I am currently typing this on a desktop replacement laptop from HP with an Intel Core i7 CPU and an nVidia GeForce video chip. I am running Fedora 12 Linux (64-bit version). Very little post-installation configuring was required. HP doesn't have a problem with my putting Linux on my laptop. I don't want to "jailbreak" a device for which I paid good money before I can have the freedom to configure it to run the OS and apps I want. OK, Steve did mention that you can change the background on the iPad. :-)
Another phase Steve Jobs used several times was "whatever you want". In this context, that seems to mean "whatever Apple wants you to have, if you buy it from its Apps stores and accept its arbitrary limitations - and bring along plenty of cash".
Will the Apple iPad succeed - probably, but at what price?
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- Apple iPad - a great web browsing experience?
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