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Lowly Writer Questions Steve Jobs' Judgment

I thought I could ignore the iPad, but as someone who might be asked to buy one (or three) as Christmas presents, I can't resist. First, given Steve Jobs' track record and knack for design, this will be a raging success. But I have to question why it's based on the single-tasking iPod/iPhone OS rather than the richer, multitasking, full version of the Mac OS.

Let's face it: Nearly all of us need a laptop. If the iPad were indeed a computer, it could act as a laptop replacement or companion, just like PC-based tablets and netbooks. But I can't see lugging around my cell phone, laptop and an iPad -- especially through airport security. A Mac OS-based tablet could do all the things the iPad does, but also word process, run all common Web apps and browse without limits.

The iPad may cost from $499 to $829. In this recession -- and when I can get a sweet laptop for $400 -- this seems a tad steep. But that's just the beginning. Like the iPod and iPhone, it's all a big money suck. Videos, books, tunes -- Apple wants you to pay for all this, too. Given that, the iPad should be a Park Avenue/Hamptons/Silicon Valley status symbol. Unfortunately, regular folks who can't afford it will be wasting their gotten gains on stuff they don't need. 

The iPad is cool for sitting around the living room, car seat (passenger, please!) or airplane, and listening to tunes, reading a book, watching video or doing some low-level messaging. This is a niche market -- and an expensive one, at that.

Having said all that, I'm not a technology and design genius. Steve Jobs is. And I predict Jobs will prove me dead wrong. Now, if Jobs would only build a Mac-based netbook...

By the way, will Apple be forced to change the iPad name? Given all the late-night jokes, it might not be a bad idea.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 01, 2010


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