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Do I need an iPad?

do I need an ipadEverywhere I turn today, people are talking about either the iPad® or Charlie Sheen.  I am not planning to go into where this is really a need or not. Food, water, clothing, sanitation and a roof over my head are all that I “need”. There is no question whether it’s a need vs want. It is a want, a luxurious one at that with prices starting at $500 for a very basic version. But what I am trying to address here is an iPad has a place in my long hierarchy of wants. Do I need an iPad? I would have answered half a dozen people today asking me whether I am going to get one. Apparently I “have” to get one. Umm… why? Let’s think about this for a minute.

What is an iPad?

Is it a bird? A plane? Superman?! Jokes aside, what is an iPad? Is it a tablet? A laptop replacement? A phone? A camera? I am not saying it is a bad gadget, I would love to have one… if someone gave it to me for free or even closer to the price of a higher end kindle. But if I am shelling out $750, I want it to do something unique. According to Steve Jobs, iPad fills the third segment which stands smack in the middle of the iPhone® and MacBook® market. iPad takes whatever is good about computers and makes them smaller and takes whatever is good about smart phones and makes them bigger. So what role does iPad fill in my life? eReader? Smart phone? all in one? My precious??!?

iPad as an eReader

Amazon Kindle dominates the eReader market. iPad has a Kindle app, a Nook app and a general ePub support, so iPad can be a versatile eReader, only a very expensive eReader. Why will I pay $630 with monthly fee from $15-$30, when I can get a Kindle for a $190 one time fee?

iPad as a phone

iPad can do most of the stuff that an iPhone can, except it is not a phone. You can’t replace a phone. Period. If you are a prepaid cell phone user and would like to get a smart phone, an iPad is a great companion.

iPad as a laptop/netbook

iPad virtual keyboardWith my current habits and work, I won’t survive if I replace my laptop with an iPad. Yes, my tablet is 3.5 lbs and this baby is only a little over 1 lb, but I use my computer (stressing on “use”) almost 14 hrs a day. I need a keyboard.  I know I can get a docking station and keyboard, but that would beat the purpose of an iPad. If iPad brings in a laser keyboard that I can beam when I want and switch off when I don’t, then we can start talking. And I need my computing power, 8 gb ram, 400 gb hard drive, optical drive, SD/usb port and the ability to write on the screen. I love my Lenovo tablet. iPad is not taking over any time soon.

iPad as an All in one super gadget

For a specific niche audience, who use computers just to check email and read news or who find computers intimidating, iPad really can be an all in one super gadget. But for the rest of us, it needs a little more magic to pull that off.

Who is the target audience for iPad?

If I don’t already have “an ereader and a laptop” or “laptop and a smart phone”, this might be a great starter device. Most people already have these, so might not find an iPad much more useful, except –

  • Media consumers : People who don’t do any computationally intensive or information/media creation are more suitable for iPad, I think. They can read their books, papers, watch streaming movies, listen to their music, read/reply to emails, read blogs… iPad is light and fast enough, faster than a computer to do all these things.
  • Road warriors : I can imagine how nice it will be to carry this around to catch up on emails, fire up a demo with one hand while talking to your prospective customers at a trade show or read a book while on a long plane trip.
  • People who generally love iPad : An ideal customer is one who can afford it and for whom it makes the day so much better and more pleasurable, I suppose.

iPad will bring the power of internet to a smaller-than-but-faster-than computer. For a casual internet user it might be fine -IF they don’t already have a netbook/laptop. I do not fit the bill. Do I need an iPad? No.

Its not you, its me

ipad gollum presciousYou are thinking about it all wrong… it’s not a laptop or a phone or an ereader. It’s a device that is not like anything else, its a work of art.. that’s what the iPad/Apple® fans will say. I am not disagreeing. It might be a great gadget, but I just don’t know what role it will play in my life and I don’t need another redundant electronic device. Definitely not a high priced redundant device. If my company buys me one for some reason or if I win one in a lottery, I wouldn’t say no to “my precious”. Or I will buy one when

  • Tablets get sophisticated enough to replace my laptop tablets- with very fast internet, enough computing power to get my work done, ways to easily access my files and/or the cloud technology gets easy/affordable enough for common users to do all the computing/storage online.
  • Android based tablets are in the market and I get to choose the better suitable tablet for my needs.
  • When the hardware for tablets get cheap enough like they have for laptops/netbooks, to bring the price down.
  • The early adopters have made all the market moves to fix all the quirks and perfected it.
  • If it ever replaces textbooks and brings in native handwriting recognition to write notes and annotate pages, I will buy it in a heartbeat.

Do I need an iPad now? No. So, I am sorry Apple, its not you, its me. Hopefully we will have an opportunity to work together in the future.

What about you? Will you be one of the early adopters? Do you already have an iPad and would love to upgrade?

[Oh, I almost forgot. First generation iPads have gone into clearance, meaning, their price is reduced $100 to make way for the iPad 2. If you bought the first generation iPad in the last 14 days, just take your receipt and your iPad to the nearest Apple store to get a price adjustment.]

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