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Doctorow: Why I won't buy an iPad (boingboing.net)
273 points by fogus on Apr 2, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 186 comments

Doctorow is apparently philosophically opposed to:

* Devices he perceives as dumbed down


* Old media

* Vendor lock-in

* App store models other than "bazaar"

Most of these have pros and cons; the iPad is not going to be everything to everyone but rather the result of a highly opinionated design process. If "it just works" and "tons of apps available for $10" fit your usage profile, so be it. There are plenty of cultural and usability benefits to a consistent experience even though it comes at the cost of some user control.

If this market isn't for you, there's always an Eeebuntu box with your name on it.

But there isn't an Eeebuntu box with multitouch input and other slick hardware features-- having open source software is a wonderful first step, but until non-Apple manufacturers start to realize that they really need to make damn good hardware in order to compete, we're stuck with a rather crappy situation.

Moreover, its a false dichotomy between vendor lock-in and a consistent user experience. What Google has shown with the HTC Dream and Nexus One handsets is that you can have something without a centralized approver deciding what apps are blessed for publication and which aren't, and yet still have a consistent user experience. Though individual carriers do in fact restrict apps to the Android Market, this is not inherent to the platform like with iPhone OS-- customers can and should complain about carriers that lock down Android handsets.

Also inexplicable is Apple's love of DRM. Time and time again, DRM has shown itself to be the bane of consumers. It doesn't make the iPad any better in any technical sense, and only serves to introduce anti-features to the platform.

In short, my opposition to the iPad is not due to a difference in opinion about design decisions so much as it is an unwillingness to participate in a platform where both developers and users are completely subservient to Apple's whims and where I don't truly own my own device.

Uhhh consistent user interface? Have you recently looked at apps on the android marketplace? You can find anything but consistent user interface. Some copy the iPhone, other have purple square buttons, others have grey Windows buttons. Some have some iPhone keyboard, others use the native keyboard. There is zero consistency in android app.

I like how people hold the freedom of the Android market against Android. "I want to force every developer to do things Apple's way, because change scares me." The solution to that is to write your own software, not to refuse to let people publish theirs. Want a consistent interface? Shut the fuck up and write some code.

Let me know when my iPhone (+) can turn off its ringer when I get to work, or when I can chat on IRC over ssh, or when I can share my location with my friends automatically. One app may have purple buttons or its own keyboard, but at least my phone can do something useful.

(+) Warning: literary device. I do not actually have an iPhone.

I must second this. I use Locale on my ADP1 (better known as the G1), and it's one of the most impressive things I've ever seen on a phone. I never have to worry again with my cell going off in class, as it knows when my classes are and when to turn the ringer off. This is the precise kind of thing that Apple disallows by restricting you to a set of whitelisted APIs which explicitly do not allow you to mess with system settings or run things in the background. The freedom of the Android market is one of the reasons that I find Android to be a better platform even in a strictly technical sense-- you can simply do more with it.

Have you tried running an Android with multiple apps going at once, especially when its memory is close to full?

No multitasking on iPhone is a feature.

It's not really fair to compare an Android device with 32M of RAM to an iPhone with 256M or RAM.

Try multitasking on a Nexus One or an Archos 5 Internet Tablet. It works brilliantly.


I've got an HTC Hero with 200-some megs of RAM. Open a couple apps, thing slows way down and gets choppy.

Change scares users. By forcing developers into one consistent UI, Apple has done the correct thing from a user-friendliness standpoint.

* Want a consistent interface? Shut the fuck up and write some code.*

This approach leads to the exact opposite of a consistent UI. Look at desktop Linux.

It's consistent for whoever wrote it.

If you want your definition of consistent, you are going to have to write your own software.

Is this a serious comment? If you write your own software towards your own definition, then, by definition, others have different definitions, thereby making things inconsistent.

The correct solution for Android would be for Google to release UI guidelines (perhaps these exist, I don't know) - but don't stop developers from innovating and then letting the users decide what is best.

> This approach leads to the exact opposite of a consistent UI. Look at desktop Linux.

Ever looked at the KDE desktop? It's much more consistent than both osx and windows.

at least my phone can do something useful

Meanwhile, my iPhone does useful things in ways which are usable.

But seriously, we get it already. You hate the iPhone with the heat of a thousand supernovas, and don't seem to feel bound by much of anything -- logic, facts, basic civility -- in coming up with ways to express that hatred. Meanwhile, life goes on and the world doesn't end just because somebody liked something you didn't like.

Speaking as a happy Android Dev Phone 1 owner, yes, I have looked at the apps on the marketplace. No, it's not perfectly consistent, but it's rather damn good for the most part. Moreover, it's improving all the time as Google improves the native keyboard and identifies what tools developers want. It's sheer hyperbola to say that there is "zero consistency" in Android apps.

I think the big concern people have is the version mismatching going on. A lot of people who bought Android phones have been burned by their carriers not keeping the hardware updated. Result: they can't run a lot of apps.

This is in sharp contrast to the iPhone store where you hit this problem incredibly rarely. So it's obviously going to be a talking point.

P.S. “hyperbola”, huh? Thank you, made my day.

I agree, but that's a different problem. Consumers need to get angry with carriers and manufacturers that drop the device at the first sign of obsolescence. That carriers are jerks says nothing about the platform itself, but rather that Google isn't successfully strong-arming carriers into supporting handsets for a reasonable length of time.

> "Also inexplicable is Apple's love of DRM"

Love of DRM? Hardly - Jobs was the one who wrote an open letter slamming the music industry for insisting the use of DRM. They also managed to completely remove DRM from the entirety of the iTunes Store (after Amazon did it first, to be fair).

As for the nonetheless strong presence of DRM on the device, there's nothing inexplicable about it: they don't own the content on the stores, and the people who do are unwilling to give up DRM. Kindle books are still entirely DRM'ed, and both devices support non-DRM formats for books you get from wherever. On this part one ought to blame the publishers, not the people who deliver the content - the moment publishers allow Apple/Amazon to drop DRM on e-books is the day it'll happen.

the moment publishers allow Apple/Amazon to drop DRM on e-books is the day it'll happen.

Or so Steve Jobs would have us believe.

Be glad that Apple is demonstrating the market potential for iPad-like devices.

How long now before Google partners their way into a Chromium/Android tablet that is to the iPad what the Nexus One is to the iPhone? I'd love to have that device, and in the meantime I'm also excited to borrow an iPad when I get a chance.

I'm also looking forward to the momentum from the iPad giving courage to Google's hardware partners, but I wish that just once one of them would take the lead. Google has obviously been ready for tablets for a while what with Android's early focus on extensibility and with their development of Chrome OS, but beyond a few entries like the Dell Mini 5, there's been very little talk of actually applying these platforms to the tablet market.

Oh, well. Just more time for display technology to improve first!

In fact, Apple's fear of the customer (which leads to their love of DRM) runs so deep that they avoid any built-in peripherals that might allow side-loading of content and applications. The only hardware interface to the device is completely proprietary and requires a license to access.

The device is conceived from the ground up with the idea that Apple must control all aspects of it's use. Any features that might lessen that control are thrown to the side.

I have a hard time watching the evolution of computing go from relatively open platform that sparked my interest as a young person, to locked down DRM restricted devices.

I'd like to put out a bet:

By April 1st 2011, Doctorow will have an iPad. He'll argue that it's more important to be on the cutting edge helping to shape the community rather than to sit back on the porch and complain like an old man. He'll probably like the device, and have a list of apps that he feels exemplify his vision of the device's potential.

I guess it shouldn't confuse me why people are so eager to comment on what or why the iPad is the best/worst thing ever. We're looking at an attempt to completely change the way folks use a computer here; we're looking at a whole new product. To say, “I can forsee this impugning freedom!” is to claim to have a crystal ball of epic proportions.

Given the incredible, measurable, financial success of IP that has shed DRM, I don't think the industry is entirely behind locking up things in the way Doctorow predicts.

Why think he will buy an iPad rather than any one of the number of more open pads already out or coming out soon?

I suspect that the iPad will make major inroads into the market and thus be the most sensible platform for someone interested in protecting digital consumer rights to be on, so that they can effectively lobby it.

There are a lot of tablets on the market. For most of them, take the total sales of any 3 and it won't even equal the pre-order volume of the iPad. I do not think I am making any overly ambitious or unusual claims when I say that the iPad will make a fairly big dent in the tablet market for at least a year or two.

I think you're right. I'm not impressed with the "competition". Most have crappy battery life and make the mistake of equating your finger to the mouse. It's really quite frustrating. I think the iPad's interface presents a lot of interesting opportunities but you have to ask Apple "Mother May I". Until someone like Google or MS presents an alternative and workable standard other manufacturers to follow the situation won't improve.

Because it will be better than them.

So you are backing up an accusation of future hypocrisy with your own metrics of what constitutes better? That just doesn't constitute a reason to accuse someone of hypocrisy that hasn't happened.

If that were the case, don't you think he'd be using an iPhone over an Android phone?

Because android phones are not bad. Especially since the launch of the Droid, they've become incredibly competitive. After about 2 years, Apple's lost their clear lead and the market has started to produce competitors.

It doesn't look like the market has things which compete with the iPad just yet.

Really? As I recall, the iPhone had roughly a two-year lead before anything similar came out. In the case of the iPad, we're seeing clones coming out before the iPad itself.


Has he done this in the past? Why do you suppose he'd do it in this case?

There is nothing wrong with thinking one thing today and changing your mind later based on new information. He made good points and clearly thought about his arguments. I think he's mostly right. I have been on the fence about getting an iPad it for all the reasons in the article. But I can agree with those points and still feel like there are enough advantages that I'm willing to accept the disadvantages. Obviously, not everyone will feel that way.

People generally don't buy products because they're perfect. They buy them because the good things outweigh a few blemishes.

There is no doubt the iPad will be a better product a year from now. Some of the flaws might be fixed or will be out shined by new features. There's nothing wrong with finding enough good later that it changes your feelings from a year ago.

I did read this post, but as a warning to others, it says nothing that you didn't already know Doctorow would say about the iPad.

If Doctrow sounds like a broken record, I can't hold it against him. These are points that need to be made repeatedly and loudly-- voices that oppose these kinds of closed platforms are sorely missing, by and large.

Not really. It's a consumer electronics device, not a religion. If you don't like it because you can't (easily) open it up and change the battery, you don't have to buy it. Only geeks care that geeks don't like the iPad -- and from what I can tell, it doesn't bother Apple much, either. They're selling plenty of iPads to the other 99% of the world.

My grandfather used to complain that "cars these days" can't be repaired without taking them to the shop because of the "damned computers." He was wrong, too.

My understanding is that he thinks the trend itself is dangerous, not just the device. By not purchasing an iPad, he is protesting (with his dollars) against closed-computing. The protest does need to be loud, because of this:

Most of the world does not know or care about how closed the iPad is; we all know, however, that the world should have open computers and not closed ones because that creates a better experience for consumers in the long run.

That's why he's fighting the fight.

> however, that the world should have open computers and not closed ones because that creates a better experience for consumers in the long run.

I'm pretty neutral about the iPad at the moment, but just wanted to point out that the world has had "open" computers for nearly 30 years and so far, I would argue they have not been better for the consumer.

Just look at Linux on the desktop. :)

<blockquote>... just wanted to point out that the world has had "open" computers for nearly 30 years and so far, I would argue they have not been better for the consumer.</blockquote>

Then again, the world has had open browsers for just a few years, and they kicked off a flurry of innovation on the web - which itself is built on open technologies.

Imagine if Windows web sites would only load on Windows computers.

What, you mean like the piece of VBScript crap we have on the company intranet? :)

I can imagine it just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Linux on the desktop is still irrelevant (although I do love it, so it's been great for this consumer). But what fraction of the web wouldn't exist today if not for Linux servers and Apache? Are you willing to say consumers aren't better off because of those open systems?

The internet was based on open technologies and we wouldn't be where we are without that.

Companies want to reverse that trend and close it up and we do need to fight that.

We don't want the future to be AOL.

Are you willing to say consumers aren't better off because of those open systems?

I'm willing to say that consumers are better off because Linux and Apache are used in places where they are the best tool for the job. I am not convinced that being open is inherently the best thing for anybody. How much of the web wouldn't exist if not for people just trying to make a buck? Would Y Combinator?

Open systems and making a buck aren't mutually exclusive. See e.g. the MacBook.

My point exactly.

No, you have a point about open systems in general, to which I agree wholeheartedly, I simply referring to consumer-facing devices.

And if the consumer really wanted an open system, again Linux on the desktop (Ubuntu?) should be have much more market share than it does.

The consumer doesn't have to want an open system. The importance is that they're there, keeping the others honest.

> And if the consumer really wanted an open system, again Linux on the desktop (Ubuntu?) should be have much more market share than it does.

Not really, the thing is that MS has a monopoly on the desktop, hard to reverse that trend. Look at Apple, even with their billions of dollars in revenue, they only get 5% of the desktop, Linux is at 1-2% with $0 in campaigning, so not that bad really.

I prefer Target, and local independent shops to Walmart. I am extremely glad, and grateful, however, that Walmart exists. It is a major driving force behind improvements in the stores I do like.The same is true of Home Depot versus Lowes (and versus any other similar store). The competition is what keeps things serving me well. Without Linux, Microsoft, et al. wouldn't have done nearly so much.

Just look at Linux on the desktop.

Picking a bad example doesn't help your point. Just look at Lotus 1-2-3, Photoshop, Skype, etc.

I was replying to the "open computers" statement of which I took to primarily mean operating systems. Which unless you call Mac OS or Windows open, IMHO my point re: linux still stands.

Mac and Windows are open compared to the App Store; they're just not open source. The market needs openness to foster innovation, but it doesn't necessarily need open source.

Exactly, the problem is that I, as a hobbyist, can't scratch personal itches by writing and giving away little programs that run on such a device.

Most of the software I ran on my first few computers was freeware, downloaded from BBSs at 2400baud. The barriers to entry for hobbyists to get little itch scratching programs up on the app store at $0 makes it not even worth the effort.

And the shame of it is that the iPad is the perfect kind of hobbyist platform, small, constrained, knowable. An organization putting millions of dollars into a piece of software for it isn't likely to make something really that much better than one or two teens banging out code in the bedrooms over a few weeks.

I feel that this is the key point: distinguishing between open and open source. Openness, in terms of economic freedom, allows choice and therefore increases competition. As you say, this leads to innovation and is better for the consumer.

I put Linux on my nephews and mother's desktop. They have had a malware free responsive computing experience ever since.

> Just look at Linux on the desktop. :)

I use it everyday, make a nice living out of it and love it, so good point.

Very well said. This is why I keep telling my family about how closed a platform the iPad actually is. I honestly don't mind if consumers make an educated decision to buy an iPad. I may buy one too (probably not, but you never know...). But the fact that most people don't know much about what they are actually buying, and the fact that Apple won't inform them of the downsides, means that those of us who do know have to make up the difference.

Why should your family care?

Another word for closed platform is no virus, no installation, no manual.

That seems to be pretty down someone like my dads alley who love the internet but always have issues with his laptop.

Why should your family care?

Because I don't want them to get taken advantage of. I want them to make informed decisions. And I care about them generally. This is a pretty strange question. If someone in your family worked manufacturing cars and knew a lot about which ones were good and bad and for which reasons, and could just generally help you make a better informed decision about what car to buy, wouldn't you want to talk to that family member about that knowledge?

Another word for closed platform is no virus? So closed windows is more virus proof than open Linux?

the iPad is nothing like windows or Linux for that matter. How would you get virus into the iPad when everything has to be approved.

It's a very different animal.

If Linux had the market share that Windows did, you can bet your last dollar Linux would be as bad off in terms of spyware, virii, etc.

This is absolutely not true. Such a statement is ridiculous, and ignores the historical development of Linux and Windows. Windows was built as a single-user, administrator-by-default system that will run any EXE file without question. Linux was built modelled on UNIX standards: run as unprivileged user, multi-user environments, etc.

Sure, MS is better about Windows Security now. And guess what? That's why there aren't nearly as many virus problems as there used to be (think 7's early days vs XP's early days).

Linux has a strong security model. It already has ~50% market share on servers (maybe more)! Don't ever suggest that my last dollar would be spent poorly if I bet on Linux's security.

Also, the plural of "virus" is "viruses", not "virii".

This seems to be emotion talking not logic.

You are confusing whether the system with the users.

The reason why virus is a menace on the windows platform is because of all the non experts using it.

If you had the same kind of types as my partents there would be absolutely no challenge plastering the os with viruses.

Bullshit. Historically Apache has always had a greater market share than IIS yet far more virueses target IIS. Historically most servers have run UNIX OSes yet most of the malware that targets servers goes for Windows. Some architectures are objectively more secure. Being closed, in fact, closely correlates with being insecure.

If you bet on it, you will lose.

That is the MS PR statement, witch is completely BS. Open source have a lot more people looking at the code and using a proven Unix security model.

The guy in the park with the "Jesus Saves" sign thinks his protest needs to be loud, too.

The point is, Cory Doctorow is in a small, small minority. The minority isn't small because people don't know what he's saying -- it's small because they don't care. He's protesting the very philosophy that gives Apple products the quality that people who buy Apple products desire. And honestly, making the openness of Apple products your raison d'etre is a bit like getting furious about the mechanical details of your favorite brand of dishwasher. The answer is always the same: don't like it? Don't buy it.

Cory is more than welcome to continue to post these sorts of rants on his blog, of course, but let's not turn them into more than what they are: one guy, forcefully advocating an opinion about something that really doesn't matter that much to most people, and that he can't really change.

And honestly, making the openness of Apple products your raison d'etre is a bit like getting furious about the mechanical details of your favorite brand of dishwasher.

I'd guess Cory's complaint is not specifically that iPads are closed, but that Apple and others are trying to create a future where closed systems are the default, and open systems are either illegal or heavily marginalized. If you accept the premises, that actually is a big deal.

one guy, forcefully advocating an opinion about something that really doesn't matter that much to most people, and that he can't really change.

So, pretty much like nearly any public advocacy of anything.

I'd guess Cory's complaint is not specifically that iPads are closed, but that Apple and others are trying to create a future where closed systems are the default, and open systems are either illegal or heavily marginalized. If you accept the premises, that actually is a big deal.

The "if you accept the premises" is, well, one hell of a big "if".

Cory seems to believe that companies are not in the business of making money, but rather are in the business of controlling peoples' lives as totally as possible, and proceeds from there. The mismatch of this belief with actual reality, and the resulting conclusions drawn with respect to, e.g., vast multinational conspiracies attempting to micromanage individual people, is of a sort which, given any other target, would result in institutionalization for paranoid psychosis.

Cory seems to believe that companies are not in the business of making money, but rather are in the business of controlling peoples' lives as totally as possible, and proceeds from there.

Not at all. I don't think Apple wants closed systems for their own sake, but I do think they believe that closed systems will be more profitable for them. The end result is the same.

Consider the line I quoted when I originally replied:

Apple and others are trying to create a future where closed systems are the default, and open systems are either illegal or heavily marginalized.

This does not express the opinion that Apple believes they can make more money from selling closed systems. This expresses the opinion that Apple's goal is not to make money but rather to impose control on people for... well, I'm not honestly sure what reason.

And that sort of implication is everywhere in discussion on places like HN, despite the fact that it literally goes off the deep end into unfounded paranoia; "Steve Jobs wants to keep me from using Google Voice" is taken not as a statement about how he'd prefer to have his company get your money, but as a statement about how he's an evil megalomanic obsessed with controlling peoples' lives. Which is really only a step away from (and logically about as sensible as) "he's working with the Bilderbergers and the lizard people to cover up the truth about JFK's role in 9/11".

>but that Apple and others are trying to create a future where closed systems are the default, and open systems are either illegal or heavily marginalized.

I myself find it difficult to imagine a future where the vast majority of applications are not web apps hosted on private servers. If you take that to be the likely future, then what you can and can't run natively on your computer (with the exception of the browser) becomes irrelevant. Debating whether or not you have the freedom to run arbitrary native code will be like arguing over having the freedom to install your own BIOS.

> The minority isn't small because people don't know what he's saying -- it's small because they don't care.

People don't care because when they hear nay-sayers predicting dystopian futures, they think things like 'that could never happen here' or 'that could never happen to me.' The reality is that I doubt very much that if you had polled Germans in the 1920's about whether they thought that the atrocities of WW2 could ever happen to them or in their country, they would say the same thing, 'not here' or "people wouldn't stand for it."

People that predict doom and gloom are often called crazy, but not always because they really are. Most of the time people don't want to think that the worst could happen even when reality paints a different picture. If I had published a paper in 2005 predicting that Wall Street would crumble due to highly-inflated real-estate and that the government would spend $700+ billion propping up banks that were 'too big to fail' I would have been called crazy and people would have ignored me stating that my concerns were 'unfounded.'

Please don't use "people don't care" as some sort of argument against someone's beliefs. I mean, if his blog post is getting up-voted enough on HN to reach the front page obviously enough people here care about it to discuss it, but for some reason you're trying to tell those people that they really don't share Doctorow's opinion and that they need to wake up to that fact.

Godwin! You win the thread :-)

"Jesus Saves" isn't backed up by any facts. Consider this as more of an educational campaign, to proclaim loudly the facts about these devices and why alternatives might be more attractive.

>but let's not turn them into more than what they are

Speak for yourself. I happen to agree with Cory and am sure I am not alone.

To those that down-voted:

The parent poster goes on for length operating under the assumption that no one on HN that is participating in this discussion or up-voted the news item shares the same views that Doctorow does. How one can draw that assumption escapes me, because it would stand to reason that a number of people (most?) would up-vote the blog post because they either: 1) share Doctorow's opinion or 2) want to participate in a discussion of Doctorow's views. The parent poster acts as if HN readers/participants are just like rats dancing to the Pied Piper's tune, that need to be woken up.

The parent poster goes on for length operating under the assumption that no one on HN that is participating in this discussion or up-voted the news item shares the same views that Doctorow does.

I believe you have misinterpreted. The parent post does not refer to HN readers, but to the obviously ambiguous "most people". The post it was in reply to distinguishes between "Most of the world" and "we" (meaning HN readers), and I propose to you that it is the former group that was meant.

The parent poster acts as if HN readers/participants are just like rats dancing to the Pied Piper's tune, that need to be woken up.

That appears to be precisely the attitude it is rejecting, in reference to Cory's desire (as described by the parent to that post) to protest loudly something that it is said few who don't already know actually care about.

I would also point out that you yourself drew parallels to the specter of Nazism (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1237826) and of unheeded warnings. Are you yourself not acting as though others need to be woken up?

Good analogy - I wouldn't buy a dishwasher from Sears if it meant that I had to buy all my futures dishes, glasses, and silverware from Sears too. (App Store) I wouldn't buy it if I had to have a special Sears approved connecting pipe to hook it into my existing plumbing. (Dock connector) And I wouldn't buy it if I had to bring it back to Sears whenever I ran out of soap. (Battery)

Even if there is a negative trend, it will "bottom out": it's impossible to not have open computers somewhere, as something has to run the SDKs for all the consumer electronics platforms!

That open vs. closed computers thing does not make much sense itself, but the other point is: you can create programs for iPad. Heck, you can even design hardware to be used in combination with it. You cannot do that on iPad itself, so what?

Let him fight it. He is preaching to the choir. The only audience he is reaching are the techies. Techies don't like closed systems (mostly) but the general public could really care less.

I know a lot of the choir that are going to buy an iPad today. Sounds like his soap box is in the correct location.

Hmm. I remember a guy, whatshisname, bald, rich, monkey-like, running around on a stage shouting DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS!!!

Don't know what ever happened to him, but i think that maybe he had a point.

we all know, however, that the world should have open computers and not closed ones because that creates a better experience for consumers in the long run

Thanks for looking out for us, Dad.

Do you disagree?

" It's a consumer electronics device, not a religion."

To be fair, it pretty much is treated like a religion, as it is hailed as the new kind of computing that will take over the mainstream.

Speaking as a non-geek:

1. I love value and simplicity and would buy an iPad in an instant if it offers these qualities at a good price and if I have needs in that direction.

2. I recoil against herd thinking about the latest "in" thing and can't therefore stand all the iPad hype.

3. I buy closed-system products all the time for specialized uses, whether it be a Kindle, an iPod, or whatever.

4. I resent the thought of getting trapped in one vendor's world by becoming dependent on closed, proprietary products and will always look for ways to avoid this.

5. Innovation is too dynamic for a single company ever to dominate the computing world in toto for any sustained period. IBM tried it in the 1960s and 1970s and Microsoft in the 1980s and 1990s. Apple appears poised to do so now but this will never stick.

6. Therefore, I sympathize with what the author of this post says but I also am relaxed about it. Three cheers for Apple and their great products. But may it never limit my choices for other great products in the future.

The inconsistency is that they make a closed consumer electronics device with incredibly restrictive rules, but at the same time they want geeks to create software and content for it.

Your argument sounds like this is supposed to be like a Sony TV set. It's a big difference whether we're talking about repairing something that is finished or whether something is a platform that is only as useful as the stuff built on top of it. I'm not complaining that I can't read the Mac firmware with a refrigerator magnet.

No one is trying to say that it's anything like a religion. Rather, the statements being made are about the long-term effects on the consumer. For instance, we are getting scarily close to Stallman's Right To Read scenario. As long as closed platforms are preferred to open ones, we have a problem-- not a religious problem, but a pragmatic and practical problem. One may even go so far as to frame the open vs. closed dichotomy in terms of long-term versus short-term goals.

The problem is that a lot of humans either have trouble grasping the long-term big picture, or just don't want to.

We want to warn people. It's like this: Imagine that Apple sold cars, and wanted to sell you a car for $20,000 that you couldn't fix, had no radio or any luxury packages whatsoever.

Then some mechanic told you that you can get a nice customizable, fixable VW for the same price with the best luxury package.

Would you buy the Apple cause it was automatic and you didn't want to learn how to drive a manual?

> They're selling plenty of iPads to the other 99% of the world.

So 99% of the world can afford an iPad, wants an iPad, and has bought/is going to buy an iPad? I feel that a larger portion of the world than you care to admit puts more thought towards getting food on the table than computing devices.

Please don't try to win an argument through a passive-aggressive statement of "you're in the minority, so deal with it."

> My grandfather used to complain that "cars these days" can't be repaired without taking them to the shop because of the "damned computers." He was wrong, too.

So 'cars these days' can be repaired without taking them to the shop?

> If you don't like it because you can't (easily) open it up and change the battery, you don't have to buy it.

The point is to protect against a world where the choice isn't "an iPad or another device that is more open" but "a closed device or no device at all." The point isn't to eliminate all closed-devices, but to make sure that they don't eliminate all open-devices.

The issue here is if most parents buy their kids and IPad instead of a real computer. They would probably be less hackers/engineers in the future if this happens.

Some of us are old enough to remember when assembler was supposed to rot your brain. When BASIC or COBOL or another compiler was going to make you stupid. When new tools and new abstractions were viewed as scary by some folks.

I trust the kids. They're smart. Smarter than us.

Hand'm all iPads. I can't wait to see what they'll come up with.

Some of us are old enough to remember when assembler was supposed to rot your brain. When BASIC or COBOL or another compiler was going to make you stupid. When new tools and new abstractions were viewed as scary by some folks.

Who said stuff like this? The outsourced-java-monkeys of yesteryear?

I doubt many computer scientists said this.

I doubt many computer scientists said this.

"[T]he teaching of BASIC should be rated as a criminal offence: it mutilates the mind beyond recovery." -- Edsger W. Dijkstra

That was a pretty commonly heard perspective from lecturers and tutors when I was studying Comp Sci in ~85 or so - that kids who'd learnt a bit of basic at school (or on their AppleII or ZX81) needed to "unlearn" all their bad habits before they could understand a _proper_ language like Pascal...

There were many smart people that did smart things in the USSR too, but it doesn't mean it was better. In many ways, this is more like transitioning computing away from a Democracy (or an Anarchy depending on how you look at it) to rule by a Benevolent Leader. Maybe the Benevolent Leader does some great things that benefit a lot of people, but sometimes this is at the cost of the people the cross the Benevolent Leader's path. And then there is the question of "what happens when the Benevolent Leader dies?" Who will take over the reins?

I doubt it. The real potential hackers will immediately want to jailbreak it. This is what I would do if this thing came out when I was a kid. I wanted to take everything apart. Even if they don't have a PC in their home, they'll find a way to do it. A friends house, the library, etc. Kids are amazing.

And, because Apple actively tries to prevent jailbreaking, these kids will all be breaking the law (DMCA) to hack their devices; which is a real shame.

In the future kids can learn hacking and civil disobedience at the same time. :-)

Since when have kids not broken the law to experiment? This is like childhood experimentation 101.

And let's hope they're kids under 18, since doing what you describe will probably be a federal crime (see DMCA) in the US, and probably most other nations.

The fact that it will be proven jailbreakable doesn't mean we should all accept being criminalized for doing what it's our natural right to do (take things apart that we own).

I don't think that these voices are useful. I don't claim they are right or wrong, but I think they are useless.

If the iPad is such a bad platform, developers/publishers/users will understand it and abandon the ship.

But, for now, it does not matter how many times these concepts are reiterated. People already have decided wether to buy/develop for/publish on iPad or not. Very few will change their mind reading these pieces (or the opposite sided ones).

Its bad in the sense that its a "closed" platform, where you are at the mercy of the manufacturer. Not bad in the sense that its a horrible product and developers can't make money from it.

There are some very good arguments both for and against ipad, and it is important to have these discussions openly as often as possible.

Popular game consoles like PS and Xbox are good examples of closed system that is good for business but bad for innovation. Price and market are tightly controlled.

I really wish someone in the know would reply to your post because I think you have the most salient point. In fact, do the same open source advocates decry the Playstation and Nintendo platforms?

I don't think I can be considered an open source advocate. But the basic premise of open source ideology (the way I understand it) is no limitation in any form or shape. When you buy a hardware (or software), you should not be subject to artificial limitations imposed by the manufacturer.

PS3 is a very good example IMO. It comes with very powerful hardware, which you paid for, but you are only limited to rules placed by sony. As a matter of fact Sony goes through a lot of trouble to make it almost imposible to do anything else with the hardware.

Similarly, I should be able to install any app on my iphone/ipad that is not approved by Apple without have to go through hoops of cracking the device.

Or at the very least Apple shouldn't spend so much time making it impossible to crack the device. If I've already proven that I'm willing to jump through the pain to get a cracked device, maybe that's a sign that I don't necessarily want "exactly" what Apple wants for me. It's already a barrier to entry, so why not just leave it so. It's not like the majority of users will just 'stumble' into a cracked device.

Game consoles are less dangerous than iPads because consoles are not replacements for a computer. If someone has a console and a PC they still have some freedom, but if someone only has an iPad, an iPhone, and a console they're totally walled in.


Have you been following the kerfuffle behind Other OS yankage?

It's not an open source argument, it's open platform argument. I should have the right to do what I want to what I buy.

I think you underestimate the ability of Apple (or any company really) to stimulate demand for bad platforms/products. They have a lot of money which gives them a lot of power to make really pretty things and market them so that people want them.

He lays out nicely written screed, but omits any inconvenient evidence and fabricates data to bolster his position. The end result is just technodemagogy. Missed opportunity.

That's a rather tall claim-- what evidence has he omitted here, or more to the point, what data did he make up?

For an omission: in his section on Apple's DRM policies he omits that after getting the music labels on board Apple then drove them to drop DRM. How would this change the paragraph containing:

For a company whose CEO professes a hatred of DRM, Apple sure has made DRM its alpha and omega. Having gotten into business with the two industries that most believe that you shouldn't be able to modify your hardware, load your own software on it, write software for it, override instructions given to it by the mothership (the entertainment industry and the phone companies), Apple has defined its business around these principles.

Then for a fabrication:

The iPad you buy today will be e-waste in a year or two (less, if you decide not to pay to have the battery changed for you).

Read that closely. He wants you to believe iPad batteries last less than 12 months, degraded to the point that you will throw away the device if you don't buy a new battery (with installation). Look at the verbs. He isn't saying he fears this might happen. He definitively states it as fact.

This kind of crap drives me nuts.

There are completely legitimate reasons to be opposed to the concept of the iPad, or to suggest that people should not buy one. When you construct an argument with stretched truths and hyperbole, you just weaken the entire position and make people who agree with you look like fanatics.

In other words, if you have such a good argument, why are you employing Rovian tactics?

I think I agree with you, but as frustrating as they are, weren't Rovian tactics shown to work pretty well?

They work great in the short term. Over the long term though you create fear fatigue in people and undermine credibility. It also tends to alienate people who are undecided or sympathetic to your argument but informed enough to see the tactics.

I'm not saying it doesn't work, I'm saying it's dishonest.

He doesn’t omit Apple’s DRM past, he merely accuses Jobs of hypocrisy with respect to DRM. Jobs seems to hate it if music labels use it (“… whose CEO professes a hatred of DRM …”) – all the while he has no problem with much of the Video content and all the Apps keeping their DRM.

I'm not sure that Steve Jobs has ever indicated that he's against DRM as a concept, only that he thought it was pointless and self-defeating to continue selling <em>music<em> with bundled DRM. Especially with BitTorrent and p2p networks being so prevalent. His opposition to DRM on music was expressed in practical, not moral, terms.

But DRM on movies still appears to be relatively effective, even though that might soon reach the same point music did and I don't think there's much doubt that DRM on apps has prevented a fair bit of piracy. If I think back to how easy it was to get pirated apps for an S60 phone a few years ago and how not one of the people I know who have jailbroken their iPhones has paid for any of the apps they own I can definitely understand why Apple would prefer a closed system with DRM.

I would agree with you that this seems to be Job’s view of the whole DRM thing, but it’s certainly possible and plausible to parse Job’s actions differently. If you squint your eyes a bit it can really seem as though Jobs wanted to look like the larger than life crusader against DRM. That’s clearly not what he is. If you think Jobs wanted people to have that impression (which is what Cory Doctorow seems to think) his actions begin to look hypocritical.

It'll be interesting to see if Steve's pragmatism regarding the pointlessness of music DRM extends to potentially sacrificing Pixar profits when the next order-of-magnitude increase in home broadband puts video DRM in exactly the same position as music DRM is today...

Aren’t we already in that situation? Downloading a pirated movie takes maybe an hour, downloading a album took about the same time ten or so years ago. We are definitely damn close. Yeah, ok, so that’s ten years ago, Jobs wrote his letter three years ago, so maybe we have to wait another seven years :)

I'll agree with your latter point, he does seem a bit sensational in his claim that the device will be physically useless in less than 24 months. But I disagree with your first argument.

You're correct that he omits that they have removed DRM from their music, but not their videos. And I think you can safely argue the point that if Apple had started out with iTunes without DRM that they never would have made it off the launchpad. He also specifically used the term "entertainment industry", which is still true. Apple still uses restrictive DRM on it's videos, as well as it's i(Phone|Pad|Pod Touch) products. The latter are definitely marketed as "entertainment devices".

As for the fabrication charge, that's at best an unfortunate choice of phrasing. His point is that when an iPad battery fails (it will-- all batteries do fail), you have no choice but to throw away the device or to send it back to Apple for them to perform the battery replacement. What happens when Apple decides that the current model of iPad is too old to bother replacing batteries on? You can no longer maintain your own device. This is quite different from not being able to repair your own device, as it has long been the expectation that users are responsible for changing out batteries. By locking down the device, Apple is promoting the production of more e-waste. Regardless of any unfortunate phrasing, the point remains valid.

Just to clarify something that appears to be a common misconception - Apple doesn't ever replace the iPad battery, it just gives you a whole new iPad for $105.95:


As a point of comparison, my Lenovo batteries that always seem to crap about a few years in cost about $100:


So... that's a pretty great deal. And I think speaks to how comfortable they are with the battery longevity. Or how fat their margins are.

... They give you a newly refurbished iPad and then swap out the battery in yours, refurbish it (a new housing perhaps) and give it to someone else. It's not like they are chucking them out the back dock.

In my experience Apple has pretty high quality refurb processes (replacing excessively scratches chassis, etc) - so while it might not be brand new you might end up with something better than what you started with.

That said, given some of the probable porno use cases of the iPad...

Or you could open it up, replace the battery yourself, and void the (undoubtedly expired) warranty. There's nothing actually preventing that, legally or physically.

And, since we are talking about something as hyped as the iPad, getting a replacement battery will be ridiculously easy as will getting the thing inside the device. There will (literally!) be hundreds of step by step instructions online and there will be more than one vendor willing to take your money for a battery.

I could get a replacement battery for my trusty six year old iPod mini (still works like on day one) right now. Costs $15 and even comes with tools to open the little sucker up. Let’s just hope the iPad’s battery is not soldered in :)

I've tried replacing parts inside Apple devices before, and they're not built for that generally. Does Apple go so far as to embed "booby traps" like those seen in the PlayStation 2 which attempt to punish people who self-repair by breaking their devices? I honestly don't know how easy it is to replace the battery without permanently damaging the device, so I'd say it's not a settled matter that there's nothing physically preventing one from doing it.

Well, if it is anything like the iPod or iPhone, it is pretty easy to replace the parts. There are multiple vendors selling parts for them (some parts better than the original). The "closed" battery should be the least of people's issues. The replacement is the same price as another laptop battery and you get a whole new iPad.

For example, at some point, I am going to replace my iPod's (5th gen) HD with an SSD and there are multiple vendors and video showing how.

I agree, he could have made a truthful point about that. But he didn't.

Will the iPad battery fail before the useful life of the device expires? I doubt it[1]. But if it does there is a convenient procedure for replacing it. Eventually there will no longer be a procedure, but the device will have passed from "useful" by then.

Look at the numbers: Applecare on an iPad runs from month 13 to month 24 and covers a new battery if required = $99. Battery replacement on an iPad = $99. Apple is not expecting significant numbers of batteries to die in two years. (Or they are and aren't expecting anything else to go wrong.)

it has long been the expectation that users are responsible for changing out batteries

And car users used to be responsible for keeping the water topped up in their batteries. That day passed. In an nice parallel to iPads, my Honda FIT has a tiny sealed battery in a unique size. They worked the mass/volume tradeoff[2] and came up with a completely unique battery. (At least they didn't put a pull cord on the dash or a kick starter on the floor.)

[1] My nearly three year old iPhone is just fine and I can still skip charging at night and get through the second day if I need to. The device is about to be orphaned by iPhone OS 4.0. Given the cost of a phone vanishes in the cost of service the only reason I'll keep it is because I have the original, cheaper, plan in place.

[2] I deleted my section on mass/value/cost/ruggedness tradeoffs of glue/screw, custom/commodity cells, and compartments/torsion box. I've covered that too many times before. I'd still love to read an article comparing a handful of devices that make those decisions different ways. My personal estimation is that using screws and having a replaceable commodity battery would add 50% to the thickness of the device keeping other factors the same. It would still be a cool device, just slightly less so.

What happens when Apple decides that the current model of iPad is too old to bother replacing batteries on? You can no longer maintain your own device.

If you have to send it to Apple, you already can't maintain your own device, regardless of whether they decide to keep supporting it.

I would note that Apple still replaces batteries for the original iPod. And as far as I know Apple doesn't prevent third parties from replacing batteries. What is the fundamental difference between the batteries and another component, like the hard drive?

Its like expecting anything other than praise for everything apple related from John Gruber of "Daring Fireball". I knew it just by looking at the title what Doctorow had to say.

That is far from reality. Gruber criticizes Apple in areas he feels they deserve it (App Store policies, and most recently their patent lawsuits).

You may not agree with where he criticizes and where he agrees, but he is far from doing nothing but praising Apple.

John Gruber has been pretty fair recently, at least on the Apple patents front.

The wide-framed automated loom is an outrage! It is the tool with which the factory owner will crush the artisan.

Have you seen working conditions in the factories? Soon all goods, not not just textiles, will be produced in such a manner. Workers will be treated as machine parts, replaceable and expendable, with all power in the hands of a few. This is what the automated loom will bring! Not just economic ruin but the enslavement of society!

And what of innovation? For 300 years every artisan learned every aspect of his craft, and in doing so contributed to its growth. How is innovation possible, with all production concentrated into a handful of corporations and run by a multitude of drones?

Down with the automated loom!

The iPad is a console for the non-gamer. We are all used to lock-in when it comes to game systems. Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony don't let you make a game without their say so. Why is Apple getting a bad rap?

You seem to be implying that these same people aren't upset at the console makers for the same reasons, and therefore they are hypocrites. But a sufficient number of them are upset at the console makers for the same reason, so your accusation fails.

You are, after all, posting this implicit accusation the same week that geekdom has been raging about the PS3 locking down even tighter!

When making a complaint, people are not obligated to run through every similar complaint they have, or face accusations of hypocrisy. In fact that would be downright tedious.

My comment wasn't directed to this one article or its author, but to the situation in general where I see more people complaining now about the iPad's lock-in than I remember complaining when the XBox360 was released.

Probably because console gaming had always been closed and the introduction of x360 didn't really make things any worse than they were.

Also the game developers who would like to see open gaming platforms are probably outnumbered by the people who are now worried about a more closed general software industry => more noise.

Because there was never any hype about how the XBox was the future of computing. That's a non-negligible difference.

The way you improve your iPad isn't to figure out how it works and making it better. The way you improve the iPad is to buy iApps. Buying an iPad for your kids isn't a means of jump-starting the realization that the world is yours to take apart and reassemble; it's a way of telling your offspring that even changing the batteries is something you have to leave to the professionals.

Because there's no powerful, intuitive, and exhaustively-documented SDK built on a robust set of APIs?

Yes, the fact that it costs $100/year to do anything useful with it is a problem. But these characterizations of the iPad as a consumption-only device, when the platform it's built on has sparked a creative, entrepreneurial revolution on mobile devices, is complete nonsense.

The platform on which iPad apps are built—the Mac—is a great piece of technology, and is indeed revolutionary in its use in the creation of modern software and digital media. But that's not an argument for the iPad being a creative tool. It is not part of the process of utilizing its own SDK.

Until I can add features to an iPhone/iPad without shelling out for one of Apple's "real" computers, I will consider the iPad a consumption-only, and thus an unnecessary, device.

Lucky for people who have already accumulated tech knowledge, buying and using an iPad won't zap it out of their brains.

Though as a young person's first computer, I kind of see his point.

I agree with Doctorow's points only when looking at the iPad as a replacement for a personal computer. If you look at it like a consumer appliance (just like the iPod Touch, iPhone, Kindle, Nook, etc.) then the iPad isn't really any different in is approach than any other appliance.

The iPad doesn't strike me as a device for any sort of creative type (producing code, documents, photographs, etc). Instead, it is a device for media consumption, just like a television or set-top box. People who want to create things will buy a PC. Just like having a PC connected to a television is useful, having an iPad that syncs with a PC might be useful to some.

In short, the greatest danger here is letting people think of the iPad as a replacement for the personal computer. Hopefully the public at large will agree.

I agree with the fundamental philosophy behind Doctorow's argument, but good grief:

  The model of interaction with the iPad is to be a "consumer," what
  William Gibson memorably described as "something the size of a baby
  hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in
  the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It's covered
  with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and
  makes them sting. It has no mouth... no genitals, and can only express
  its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing
  the channels on a universal remote."
I don't know if it's possible to be more shrill.

Take a close look at the game industry for a glimpse into a slightly more probable future. The consoles, dominant as they are, did not kill PC gaming. A significant and very profitable chunk of gaming occurs on personal computers. The indie gaming scene is arguably stronger now than it ever has been. There has been an explosion of inexpensive or free or open source game development tools, engines and libraries over the years. As a result, it has never been easier or cheaper to make games and share them with others than it is right now. That's good!

On the other hand, the corporate gatekeeping to the console publishing world makes the App Store look like GitHub. That's bad!

It is far more useful to address actual problems that computing appliances might pose than it is to paint apocalyptic sci-fi scenarios where we are transformed into creatures made up mostly of eyes.

"If you want to write code for a platform where the only thing that determines whether you're going to succeed with it is whether your audience loves it, the iPad isn't for you."

How is this different from writing an app for say the web? Or Linux?

What if your only audience is yourself. Or a very small group of people? Which is also perfectly possible for iPad/iPhone developers?

How does he define success? Financially? Making it available? Being able to open source it?

His point is the exact opposite of what you're saying. He's alluding to the fact that Apple's application review process has as much, or more, to do with your success than whether your users love the app or not. If Apple decides to reject you, or reject a needed update, or even just delay it for an extraordinary amount of time, you're out of business.

This is the exact opposite of a web app, or a linux app, or even a desktop OSX app. You write it, you distribute it, and it's on you to make it successful.

Apple's application review process has as much, or more, to do with your success than whether your users love the app or not.

That is absurd. There are 150,000+ apps on the App Store. Those have all passed Apple's review process, by definition. And yet only a very small percentage of those approved apps are popular/profitable. Building an app that people love is much harder, and much more important to your success, than simply passing the App Store review. If you stay within the fairly well-known guidelines, passing the App Store review is a very low bar to clear.

How many apps were rejected? Without the denominator we have no idea whether or not surviving review is actually difficult, only the reviewers' very poor reputation for mostly just approving trivially reviewable apps like fart button #148272.

True, but if you don't think that model is fair, then don't write software for it. I agree that the AppStore model is flawed, and doesn't promote the sort of freedom that most developers (and users) are used to, but apparently many, many developers, and many, many users either think it is okay, or haven't thought about it at all. If enough developers wised up, then perhaps Apple would make changes to the model. I suspect, however, that we won't see that sort of groundswell anytime soon.

You have to go a step farther, if you agree that the model is flawed, don't buy the device, and tell others why you've made that decision. Which is exactly what Corey is proposing (and doing).

We won't see groundswell against this kind of thing, unless we help to create it by educating potential customers.

Agreed, and I don't take issue with Doctorow's position.

My point is that plenty of developers and consumers seem to rather like the App Store model. And I can see how that won't change, at least for developers. Yes, you pay $100 a year, and yes, Apple ultimately decides if your app is worthy, but for a lot of devs, this is actually a win, as they don't have to market their software.

You make an important point but he does not talk about the approval process. He talks about the audience.

I normally stay out of Apple related discussions, because no matter how often people say the contrary, they reek of Fanboy. Tonight, I've just had my share to drink and want to give my peace.

Apple is releasing a new device. With this, they are continuing a quite recent trend of hand(ish) held devices that oppose what we generally think of when it comes to computers.

On one hand, we don't look at most phones and wonder why we can't hack them to pieces. On the other hand, Apple can't stop touting Computer Revolution XYZ as the most incredible thing the technologically inclined have ever laid eyes upon.

The problem is they don't market their items toward us. They tell us these incredible things about how it does XYZ and does it so well... then they air commercials about how you can find a restaurant, or get directions to a movie theater, or (for the love of God) check your e-mail as you talk to someone.

As complete and utter nerds, we grok this device as a leap in handheld, touch-it-till-it-loves-you computing. Apple tells us it is... then they turn around and tell the rest of the world they can read books and download new ones for $10.

You know... in re: Apple and DRM, I think Apple has been stripping it away about as much as could be expected:

music: none on any of the music in their store anymore, now that they actually have the negotiating clout to get away with it

video: still there, but the TV/movie industry isn't yet in as bad a position as the music industry was, and if Apple tries to take away the DRM they will just leave. Note the absence of any other video store without DRM.

apps: yes, they do have DRM which is in fact entirely painless for users and the only reason you'd want to strip it off an app is to pirate it (which people do). As far as allowing non-appstore apps, a) there's jailbreaking which Apple hasn't made any significant effort to stop beyond the initial jailbreak which was via a Safari exploit that allowed arbitrary code execution, and b) one could certainly argue that the reason why they don't is to ensure that their platform continues to run well in as many cases as possible. see: the number of android apps that will quite possibly fuck up your OS in a number of ways.

does Steve Jobs have a controlling share of Pixar? if so, he can release all Pixar movies DRM free and lead the charge.

No. Disney owns Pixar. Steve Jobs is the largest single shareholder of Disney but that's by no means a controlling interest.

Doctorow is completely missing the point of the iPad, IMO.

He spends nearly the entire article arguing against the iPad's ability to impact journalism / magazines which, I sincerely doubt, has anything to do with why most people are excited to get their hands on one . . .

Like Doctorow mentions, "the press has jumped all over the ipad...because journalists want a daddy figure who'll convince people to pay for content again."

So while we may know what the device represents, the media hasn't been spinning it that way. People think of it as a browser/app-like gaming device, many/most media articles I've seen mention implications for journalism/media consumption.

Was I the only one that found the upside down picture of Jobs distracting? I had the hardest time even getting through the first couple paragraphs. I'm sure there is a study that will shed light on why that is... and now I have to find it.

I hate that people like Gruber keep making the analogy to automobiles.

Because the car manufacturers didn't try to lock down their system and took government intervention to prevent this? But if Apple does it, it's just "progress".

Doctorow's "think of the children" argument is absurd. How many kids are really going to have an iPad? Their parents might have one, but does anyone think that'll be the only computer in the house? Apple doesn't make commodity devices, they don't compete in the low-end, and they rarely drop prices. If I had an 8-year-old son, do you think I'd let him take a $500 anything to school?

Children who weren't as fortunate as Doctorow to have parents who could afford an Apple ][ will likely have a cheaper, open alternative. Commodity hardware that wasn't available in the good old days. Back when you had to be either lucky enough to attend a private school with a computer lab (Gates), or have an engineer father working at Lockheed (Woz), or any number of other examples.

I don't get the whining- jailbreak the damn thing!

It takes five minutes with a single click GUI front end. Are there really that many budding hackers who can't be bothered to google 'program on an ipad'?

It is also illegal. If Apple didn't go to pains to prevent jailbreaking (and therefore make jailbreaking the device a violation of the DMCA) Doctorow's entire point would be moot, IMO.

Opposing closed platforms is done not by bickering about it but by building better ones.

Why I won't: first-generation Apple stuff usually kinda sucks.

My first-gen iPhone still kicks ass (for me).

iPhone 3GS is the first really awesome iPhone, for me, and I had the iPhone 2G. Lack of 3G and the really godawfully slow UI (still faster than most Android phones today, sad really) made the 2G's experience a little less than stellar.

The 3GS is the first iPhone where I didn't get constant lags and skips in the UI.

I wouldn't class the hardware as entirely first-generation given the "big iPod Touch" aspect.

And I still have a 1st gen Macbook Pro that's been going strong since 2006.

First-gen iPhone users were very well cared-for by Apple. I've never had a better early-adopter experience.

Will there be an "Everyone: Why we shouldn't care for Doctorow trying to tell us what we want in personal computing, and what to do with our money." follow-up?

I would rather buy a locked-down iPad -- well-executed -- than poorly executed attempts at science fiction (Doctorow's). Seriously, the world is not black-and-white, and Doctorow needs to learn that.

Here are two other articles from Boing Boing, found by clicking on the big picture links at the top of this anti-iPad article:

"Apple's iPad is a touch of genius" http://www.boingboing.net/2010/03/31/a-first-look-at-ipad.ht...

"The Elements for iPad: Hands-on review" http://www.boingboing.net/2010/04/01/the-elements-for-ipa.ht...

I'm confused now. Is it good or is it evil?

It appears that Xeni Jardin finds it awesome while Cory Doctorow feels it promotes undesirable cultural and business practices.

Why are you confused?

They are publishing opinions for and against ipad, how can that ever be a bad thing? If it was by the same author, on different posts with different opinions, I would understand.

Of course I'm not confused. I was just pointing out it was mildly amusing that the publication highlighted links to an opposing viewpoint from one of the other producers of the very same site.

Whoa, it's almost like smart people don't mind intelligent disagreement with their viewpoints! My world is shattered!

It's sad that it's amusing that a "publication" may encourage differing opinions rather than forcing all it's contributors to a consistent position.

Both penned by Xeni Jardin, Cory Doctorow's partner in Boing-Boing.

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