(Warning, car guy!) First, I don't think this is a bad thing. The average person doesn't want to perform any maintenance anyways. Heck, oil changes. They're still just as easy to perform. You're not even saving any time by going to the dealership and back, plus waiting around. You're certainly not saving any money (I can save $45 changing my oil myself). People just don't want to expend the effort.
In the case of cars, at least in the US, they went from an object to pride to... a nuisance for most motorists. They want to be comforted, coddled, and have as much as possible done for them so they can chat with friends, sip their coffee, or have a conversation via text message.
That applies to many things. I know plenty of folks who spend $10-12 a day on lunch. $10-12 of ingredients gets me a far better lunch for the entire week. Even saves me time, because I don't have to wait in a line every day.
It's not cheaper. It's not even less time. It's the time spent is "lower impact" I guess. That's what's paid for. Consumers are given a choice, and many choose the path of overall least resistance. I'm sure there's plenty of other psychological factors at play (i.e., "Well I have the money to not need to cook for myself all the time!", advertising making things seem more appealing), but the reality is when presented with all the options, folks just want to do the least work possible.
Give people more iPads. At least in the current consumer culture, it's exactly what people want. They don't want to explore or program. It's the path of computing least resistance. Enthusiasts and people who have a serious need for one will still buy computers.
Actually, even this has gotten a bit debatable. My dealership has wifi available, so I can take my car in for an oil change and I don't have to take any time off work to do it.
VPN access, in my experience, is in the hope that people will do MORE work when they normally aren't expected of it. As opposed to having a more flexible work environment.
This is a good point, but when you buy an iPad you are giving up that choice, and you might not know it.
When I buy a car, at least I know I can change the oil myself should I choose to. I can also install a new battery, or listen to any radio station I want.
I don't mind Apple selling a locked-down device, as long as people are aware that's what they're getting. How many people do you think would buy a car whose manufacturer dictated what stations were allowed to play on the radio, and closed off the oil tank with a proprietary cap so that you had to take it to the manufacturer to have the oil changed? Probably not very many.
So the danger here is that manufacturers take advantage of the mass-market's lack of understanding and preys on their desires for a very powerful computing system that just works, pushing more and more investment towards more closed devices at the detriment of more open devices without most people even realizing how it's harming them.
When I was growing up, I played games. I thought they were neat. I wanted to make my own. I didn't have the tools to do it. I couldn't even easily acquire them -- mom, dad and my sister weren't going to allow the youngest family member to install Linux on the family computer, and we certainly didn't have the money to buy development tools. It doesn't matter if I could install a boot loader to dual boot -- I wasn't allowed to mess with it unless I wanted to be grounded for months.
I was allowed to dumpster dive for 386s though. And I was allowed to do whatever I wished to those computers.
As long as people are curious enough, there are no barriers. Hell, there are still cars designed in sheds (and sold to the public).
I also can't tell you how much time I've spent configuring my desktops which all run Linux. Sometimes the sound doesn't work, sometimes I'm hacking Wine to get a game to run, but there's always the lower-resistance path of just installing windows or going with a Mac.
I choose the battles where I enjoy the tinkering. I don't care if my car has a sealed hood or not since I don't care to tinker with it.
Some people might not want to tinker with their computer and would rather just tinker with their RSS feeds or HTML.