And now, a continuation of my rant against the Apple iPad. Enjoy. If you missed it, check out part 1.
Let us descend into the thick of it. First, I am enormously biased against Apple. I think their posturing as the epicenter of “cool” and “trendy” is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, can we be more pretentious? Oh yeah, we can! Let’s dress our CEO only in black turtlenecks, horde company secrets like we’re the CIA, and decorate our stores in white but dress our employees in bright orange T-shirts . Silliness. It’s all about image at Apple, and it’s obvious they try really hard to maintain that image. They’re the kids who pretend they just “throw on clothes” in the morning, but actually spend hours crafting each unbelievably expensive outfit.
Speaking of unbelievably expensive, that’s my main problem with Apple. I’ll admit: image-obsessed or not, their stuff looks nice. It’s sleek and attractive. I’m not blind to aesthetics, and so I understand why people are drawn to it. BUT (and there’s always a “but”), aesthetics loses its luster when only the wealthy with gobs of disposable income can afford it.
Don’t believe me? Let’s do a little cost-analysis. (I’m using Dell as a comparison model, because it’s what I have now and what I’ll most likely buy next.) You can buy an average laptop from Dell for around $400. This is taking in consideration you’re not a “tech geek,” and don’t need all the bells and whistles of a powerful computing machine (like the kind of computer my engineer boyfriend needs for his work). This is the demographic Macs are supposed to appeal to, right? The lay person just looking for a regular, run-of-the-mill computer. One that’ll get you online, runs iTunes, and has some kind of word processing program (I consider myself pretty average, and this is all I do on my computer). So let’s go over to Apple. The base model Macbook is (JUST!) $999.
Remember, we’re just doing a cost-analysis here. I know there’s a lot to be said about the differences between the Macbook and an average laptop from Dell, but this is ALL about the money. Now, you tell me where I’m supposed to find an extra $600….I’ll wait. Have you found it yet? You have? Cool! I’m going to take that money and use it pay my rent for the next 2 months. Thanks for helping me get ahead on my bills.
You see, this is how normal people feel about disposable income. If I have an extra $1,000 chilling my bank account, I’m not going to buy a Macbook, I’m going to pay down some of my student loans. If I had an extra $50 a month, I wouldn’t pay for a data plan for my iPhone, I would use it for groceries. I would put some of it away in savings, I would put it toward my car payment, I would use it to pay the oral surgeon who removed my wisdom teeth. I’m not poor, but there are better things I’d rather be doing with my money.
One thing I’d rather be doing with it is buying books. This brings me to what the iPad is supposed to be: an e-reader (whether that’s true is up for debate). I’ve had a lot to say about e-readers, but it all comes down to yet another cost comparison. The base model iPad is $500 (they can run you up to $830 if you want all the bells and whistles). But let’s say we can’t wait til the Wi-Fi + 3G model is available in late April, and we’re cool with 16GB of space. Let’s also imagine I didn’t work at Half-Price, but merely purchased all my books there as a regular customer (much like I did in the years leading up to my employment there). An average fiction trade paperback is usually $7. I may shop the clearance section every now and then, and some things may be a little more expensive, so $7 will our be our average. For $500 at Half-Price, I can buy around 71 books.
Now, I’ve heard this argument a thousand times: e-readers are most cost-effective for serious readers. You can buy new bestsellers for $9.99, while older books out of copyright are free! Well, consider this: since I began this blog, I’ve kept track of my reading since May 2009 (after I graduated from college). I’m a pretty voracious reader, although I do mix things up with a New Yorker every now and then. Since last May (11 months), I’ve read 42 books. Let’s round that up to a year, and double it. In two years, I’ll read a little more than 80 books.
So, for the same amount of money it would cost me to purchase JUST the iPad (excluding the price of e-books…the whole point in buying the damn thing), I could buy 2 years worth of reading material. However, let’s not forget how notorious Apple is for updating their gadgets. By then the country will be on a 10G network, and so naturally, everyone who bought an iPad now will be forced to buy the newest model. Thus, my $500 would be lost.
This argument can also be applied to any e-reader, and is the basis for my strong feelings against them. Of course I have a romantic attachment to the printed word. I love the experience of reading an actual book, and will never forsake them. But the real clincher is the price. Unless someone can produce an e-reader that’s affordable, at a price that makes them cost-effective immediately, I don’t understand their purpose. Why buy a machine for $300-$800, that accomplishes the same task as the paper-bound book I picked up for $1? Yes, the story’s the same either way. But at those prices, I am able to read so much more with real books.
Like my last post pointed out, everything comes down to image. The iPad’s purpose is to make you look cool. Don’t feed me a bunch of crap about “making reading easier/more accessible.” The iPad makes reading more accessible to those who can afford it. However, the people who can afford it are the ones who buy every new gadget off the assembly line. They don’t want the iPad to read, they want it because it’s the exciting, new TOY on the block. *Sigh* I thought we got over this in 5th grade?
And that concludes this chapter in my rant. Stay tuned for (probably) the last installment, in which I discuss further the ambiguity of the iPad’s purpose in the grand scheme of things.