So, I recently watched an episode of Modern Family, which if you've missed it, is this generation's Brady Bunch. The episode centered on one of the father character's (Phil's) obsession with always getting the latest new technology as soon as it comes out. In this case, the device happens to be the iPad. Now, I've always really despised Apple, mostly for their business model. If we were to put it on a "personal freedom" scale, it would look something like this (and remember, when it comes to consumer benefit, anarchy is tantamount to perfection):
This crude scrawling is why I have a problem with Apple. They love the word "proprietary". It means "we retain control over every aspect of how you use our devices". Want to put songs on your iPod? Should be as simple as plugging the thing into your computer, opening it through My Computer (as you would a jump drive), and throwing mp3's into folders, right? It's as simple as that on my Sandisk Sansa View, wouldn't the industy's leader be just as adaptable? Not even close. Upon promising to update my girlfriend's iPod with new songs and delete some old ones, I attempted the above method and was met with the oddest assortment of files and folders I have ever seen. Turns out, to do anything with an iPod, you need to download and use Apple's own iTunes program. Convenient.
I learned, at about the same time, that when downloading files from iTunes (after having paid for them, mind you), they come embedded with DRM that keeps the songs and movies squarely under the control of Apple. Apparently, they are starting to ease up on this DRM, but my point remains. Apple is a top-down, nanny state of a company.
My other problem with Apple is actually encapsulated pretty well in that Modern Family episode. Phil wants this useless piece of technology, not because he has a need for it, or it's going to expand his horizons in some way. No, he wants it so that he can blow out fake candles on a fake cake displayed on the screen for his birthday. He wants it simply because Apple says he should. This is mindless drone consumerism and the people standing in line to get their gadgets when they first come out have an almost "religious sheep" quality about them. They don't want the iPad for any other reason than faith in almighty Apple. To make matters worse, one of the biggest draws to Apple products is the aesthetic. That would be like me buying a PC desktop tower based solely on how pretty the blue LED fan lights were. "Functionality? Who the hell cares about that?! I want my shiny new bauble from the church of Steve Jobs!"
Behold! The iOracle-at-Delphi!
Will these new pads eventually be as essential as cell phones and laptops? I have no idea. We certainly aren't there yet and Apple hasn't done much to convince anyone that we ever will be. I have no problem with niche technology such as this, but for the gods' sakes people, ask yourselves why you need it before you mindlessly buy it. Especially from a company that doesn't really want to give you much freedom in how you use it.