“It’s easy to see the iPad as the final tragedy in a long history of openness and tinkerability in general purpose computing. But the truth is, the cyclical fight against locked-in systems has been the recurring theme of computing since the mainframes. Our open systems are as wonderful as they are because they had to set themselves up against the shiny proprietary wonders of a previous age. The iPad isn’t a threat; it’s an inspiration. They’re always trying to steal the revolution; we always have to steal it back.”
This is the point that lots of people miss. Yes, the iPad (and iPhone) is a pretty closed system as it goes. Yes, it’s not open. But perhaps without the “shiny proprietary wonders” there wouldn’t be much inspiration for open systems to improve for real people.
The challenge for those in favour of open systems shouldn’t be what Apple is doing: It should be doing better than Apple.
There’s a million posts around about the iPad today, and there will be a million more tomorrow. My reaction is simply that I’ll be buying one, because I’m a geek, and that’s what I do.
As for whether it’s good or bad, game-breaking or Apple-breaker, that I’ve yet to learn.
I learned with the iPhone never to judge Apple products until I’d had them in my sweaty paws. As a dyed-in-the-wool BlackBerry user, there was not way I was going to get an iPhone. Not a chance.
However, as a general nerd, I felt duty-bound to experience the interface – so I bought an iPod touch. Within two weeks, I’d bought an iPhone. Having used the interface on the touch, there was simply no way that I was going to not have that lovely interface on my phone. It made my perfectly-good BlackBerry feel like something from the 19th Century.
So, till I actually have one in my hands, I’ll refrain from too much comment. People who judge Apple products by looking at the spec sheets simply don’t get it.