Introduced in 2010, Apple’s iPad has been met with generally favourable reviews and sales, becoming far and away the most popular tablet computer on the world market. Sort of a ‘halfway house’ between and iPhone and Macbook, the iPad is an impressive gadget indeed. It runs a great many programs, and comes with up to 64GB of memory, not bad for a thing not much fatter than a short novel (and not much bigger, either). In fact, it has a great many appealing features.
But that’s not what bothers me about the iPad. Apple has been a real breakout force in recent years. The combination of space-age design, virus resistance, superior operating systems and an increasing emphasis on user-friendly, trendy peripherals aimed squarely at the consumer market (iPhone, iPod etc), have seen the one time nerd-only machines evolve into the last word in consumer gadgetry. Apple finally rose up and challenged Microsoft’s much-vaunted industry dominance. This can only be a good thing for a marketplace mainly presided upon by one company; because where there is competition, there are fairer prices and a good deal more innovation.
So what’s my problem? When I said the iPad ran a great many programs, did I mention that they were all exclusively Apple programs? Yes, you heard right, Apple only allow Apple programs on their newest computer. OK, the iPad is not an iMac or whatever, but it does set a worrying precedent. Here is a company, an industry leader no less, selling a machine so inflexible that it is no longer up to you what programs you run? Doesn’t that sound a little less 2011 and a little more 1984?
Now, inasmuch as there are relatively few industry giants in the field of computers and etc, there are literally hundreds of thousands of software developers out there, many are working on innovative and intriguing ideas. Often, in business, mastery of specialist software can be the make-or-break between getting a client and merely getting in line. So if everybody is using the same products, we end up with a rather dreary and uncompetitive market, as well as a veritable ton of job loss.
The act of ‘jailbreaking’ an iPad (so that it will use outside software) is becoming widespread, this ought to be a clear sign to Steve and the gang that people want the freedom to run whatever the hell they like on the products they paid their hard-earned money for. It suggests, in bold primary colours, that they like the product, but not the lack of choice. Jobs has announced that, as a result of this stipulation, the iPad is “porn free” which is all very well and good, but supposing iPad users like porn? Isn’t it their right to do what they please within the limits of the law? Opinion time, people.