By Harry McCracken | Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 5:45 pm
The debate about Apple products never ends, but it always involves distinct phases. Consider the iPad. People began expressing heated opinions about it before anyone knew anything. Then they continue to do so once they know something but not everything.
For the iPad, the best phase begins on Saturday, when all of us who weren’t among the first reviewers to get their hands on the thing get the opportunity to express opinions based on extended real-world use. The “Why the iPad Will Fail” stories will dwindle away, because it’s pointless to speculate once the darn thing is in the market. It’ll be a huge hit or a modest success or a flop, and nobody’s take will matter except the aggregate opinion of people who buy gadgets.
But I wanna get something off my chest during the remaining time we have to talk about the iPad without much in the way of cold, hard facts. Here’s something I don’t get: The single most common argument made by folks who think the iPad will fail is that people don’t want a “third device” to supplement their PC and their phone. One more device, the theory goes, is clearly one too many.
We know that many people can be comfortable with the notion of buying and using three devices, because so many have used a desktop PC, a laptop, and a phone. That’s…three devices! And today, lots of us have ditched the desktop in favor of a notebook as primary PC, leaving us with two devices and room for a third.
Come to think of it, I know more than a handful of people who have had desktops at work and home, plus a laptop for everywhere else, plus a phone. That’s four devices. Then there are TVs–they surely compete with PCs for our attention, and almost all of us have at least one. Five devices.
If you buy an iPad, you might end up canceling newspaper and magazine subscriptions which can run you hundreds of dollars in aggregate. So I’m counting dead trees as a sixth device.
How do we count the Kindle in here? TiVo? Portable DVD players? The iPad has the potential to replace aspects of all of them. Nine devices.
Related anti-iPad argument: It’s bigger than a smartphone, and therefore you can’t take it with you everywhere without giving it some thought. Which is true enough. But it’s also true of most of our devices–in most cases more so than with the iPad.
Some have bought a netbook as their “third device.” Some will get an iPad. Many–the majority, actually–will stick with the devices they’ve got. But the argument that there aren’t large quantities of consumers who are willing to own three or more computing/communications devices of various sizes strikes me as utterly specious.
Or do you disagree?