Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Technology: Battles & Bait

Consider for a moment Associated Press technology writer, Peter Svensson’s analogy of having to buy a new set of CDs every time you buy a stereo system.

For all my faithfulness and consumer support for Steve Jobs and Apple, I sometimes fear he and his company are leading us to just such a crippling state of affairs. The soon to be released (and totally awesome!) iPad is an example in point. Lurking beneath the sleek ‘cool’ and handheld power of this new device is a recipe for even greater technological addiction, one which includes increased consumer spending, and a battle of alternate operating systems.

But make no mistake about my own two-sided position in this issue. Since the 1990 Macintosh Classic computer I have owned a least a baker’s dozen Apple computers, a Newton, more than a few iPods and the now the iconic iPhone. I have all but worshipped at the altar of Apple technology from the very beginning, but in recent years have had to admit to some fading of the rose. I now see questions where once I jumped with complete trust at everything coming out of their warehouse doors.

Two examples may illustrate my disillusion. Many users, including myself, look forward to, and quickly buy system upgrades from Apple. How rare is it to discover that the latest upgrade frequently makes one or two installed applications obsolete? Nothing for it but to shell out for application upgrades. That may be small beer when the software application is an inexpensive one, but another altogether when it’s one with an upgrade costing hundreds of dollars. My experience on two occasions. (I’m still getting over the Snow Leopard OS upgrade.) Then there is the fabulous iPhone, which becomes not so fabulous when you travel abroad, or move to another country. In such cases the iPhone becomes a basically useless toy. Without paying overseas rates there is no phone, no email, texting, YouTube, Apps Store, navigational maps, or anything Internet connected. A Tokyo acquaintance recently spent a month in Australia, where he used his iPhone as freely as he does at home in Japan. He later received a bill in the thousands. Pleading ignorance of the system fell on deaf ears. Unless you’re rich as Croesus, outside of home ground your iPhone becomes a glorified iPod.

The dazzling new iPad now threatens to ignite an e-reader systems battle between Apple, Amazon’s Kindle, the Sony e-reader, and the Barnes & Noble Nook. All but Apple and Amazon (including libraries) use an Adobe system for their e-readers. Apple is nearly infamous for its reluctance to collaborate, and Amazon claims the leader’s position. So where does that leave me if I want to transfer my Kindle books to an iPad? In the end it will surely leave me spending more money for something that should have been designed to include an element of collaborative spirit.

I doubt that Steve Jobs would lose much sleep in learning that the iPad is not on this follower’s shopping list. Sort of leaves one to wonder about the Orwell-Huxley dilemma wherein we are killed by the things we fear, or on the other hand by the things we love.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog Bill. I was curious how you felt about the ipad knowing what a huge apple fan you are. I am going to buy one when it becomes available in CT.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America