Apple iPad: Just Say No?

Two smart people have written stirring pieces arguing against buying an iPad. And the fascinating thing is, the two arguments have almost nothing in common.

Over at Fast Company, Gina Trapani says you shouldn’t buy an iPad because they’re too pricey and aren’t fully baked yet. Hold off until they go more completely mainstream, she advises.

Meanwhile, Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow thinks you shouldn’t buy an iPad because they’re already too bland and commercial: He wants an iPad you can crack open and hack, and one without any DRM and the App Store’s limitations on what you can install on the gizmo.

Apple iPad: Just Say No?
And me? Well, I agree with points in both pieces without buying either argument. Like Trapani, I think lots of intelligent folks won’t even consider buying an iPad until the second-generation version comes along. (I said so in a piece I wrote for FoxNews.com, and have never regretted holding off on the iPhone until the 3G model arrived.) And like Doctorow, I’m unhappy with both the idea of Apple being the only distributor of iPhone/iPad software and many, many things about how it’s performed in that role.

But here’s the thing: one-size fits all buying advice just doesn’t work. While Trapani’s bide-your-time approach is eminently sensible, is there any doubt that some people will ignore it, and be happy they did? I’ve owned pricey bleeding-edge gizmos which I deeply regretted having bought. But there are others I’d get all over again. (I had multiple MP3 players before the first iPod came alone, and while they were all deficient in multiple ways–my Rio PMP300 had a nasty habit of losing all its music if I jostled it the wrong way–I’m still glad that I got in on digital music early.)

As for Doctorow’s stance that nobody should buy an iPad because they’re locked down: I think you have to acknowledge the fact that the iPhone, for all its Apple-imposed restrictions, has been a far more amazing tapestry for creativity than any phone that preceded it. I’m still willing to believe that Android’s more unfettered approach will lead to wonderful things in the long run–but for the most part, you can’t prove it by the current state of the Android Market.

Should you buy an iPad? Maybe–it depends on a bunch of factors. But this much I know: Anybody who tells you no, you shouldn’t or yes, you should without knowing anything about you is giving you faulty advice…

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