Why do you need it? Just because it’s there? And Steve Jobs told you that you do?

iPad. Lord have mercy. I don’t even think I have a joke that has not already been said before. I’d say I’m speechless, but I don’t do speechless.

I had a conversation last night with someone that is super cheesed-off that their music content is being held hostage by Steve Jobs and I have totally been there. Switching over to a Zune, for me, wasn’t out of blind loyalty. I used my iPod for years. I researched what to do when the screen froze. I bought music on iTunes. I felt comfortable. And this is exactly what is wrong with my life. Just because something is comfortable doesn’t mean its right or even good…or preferable. Comfort inspires laziness to your detriment. I hesitate to talk too much here about how much I love my Zune because ridiculous fanboys annoy the hell out of me. So maybe I go to the extreme by holding back my praise because I care too much about what you think of me. Oh jeez.

Anyway, at some point, I totally fell out of love with my iPod. And the *idea* of being locked into a content format started to make my blood boil. I rarely get angry (usually annoyance and disappointment fill my anger void). But it just kind of built up over time, partially because I did it to myself. I was in an unhealthy relationship with my iPod. I even bought new shuffles when my old ones crapped out. I’m not proud. Dear iPod, it was fun while it lasted but it’s time for me to move on.

I feel more liberated and in-control now. Yeah, control. I like it. And now we have to hear about the iPad. Look, I’m not a fan of the way Steve Jobs does things, not because his products aren’t beautifully designed (because they are!) and not because their marketing sucks (because it doesn’t). It’s just that he designs them for him, not us. He thinks he knows better. And we let him tell us what we need. Lemmings.

I have friends that have an iPhone. I have certainly mentioned before that I am not a phone person. In my exploration of my own ego, I have acknowledged the fact that I am not important enough to need to be reached at a moments notice. It’s true. And there are no “family emergencies” in my life. And more interestingly, I most certainly do not need an “app for that.”  I think that people adopt technologies because they are there, not because they make their lives better. I have realized that my most precious commodities are time and attention. And I’m stingy with them. So no, I don’t want to be playing with eFart, or iFart or whatever. I get that some people use their phones as entertainment. I use mine to check my email and send/receive text messages and the occasional phone call. So yeah, my reaction to the iPhone was that it was super interesting from a marketing perspective, but otherwise: meh. At least for me. If I want to be entertained, I’d like to explore other options. Like books. The kind made of paper (sorry Kindle).

And then comes the oddly-names iPad. And the luke-warm reaction, except by the most loyal fans. And the fuss about the name. And then we are asked to compare the feedback with that of the iPod. And I can’t help but think to myself (in my very best Carrie Bradshaw voice), that even though we have been here before, shouldn’t we know better this time? Especially because there are already other technologies filling the same need.

When the iPod came out, the concept was new to most of us (I need a way-back machine but I believe the concept was new to most of us). And so, yeah, people got excited, before they thought long and hard about their long term content. And iPad is entering a more crowded market. But there is this underlying thing that is still kind of bugging me. And it’s that many of us are letting Steve Jobs tell us what we need because he thinks it’s cool. And it might actually, be cool. But if we adopt every cool thing, our lives get all cluttered (ooh, there’s that clutter thing again and that may be, in fact, what this blog post is really about) with moderately cool stuff that improves our lives not one little bit. So while comparing comments about the iPod with comments about the iPad isn’t a huge surprise, especially from someone trying to push for the less favorably reviewed iPad, hoping that it achieves the same level of success that the iPod did (“remember, kids, that you thought you didn’t need the iPod too and look what happened”). I guess that I am just hoping that overall, people think more critically about what this thing is actually going to do for them. Does it make your life *better*? And does it *really* make your life better or are you assuming it does, just because Steve Jobs says so?



Comments (9)

  1. Yogesh says:

    You are absolutely correct. Exactly my words.

    In my social circle, almost 90% of people I meet have iPhones and they owned iPods  or iTouchs or whatever else Apple released in the last 10 years. When they spot me with a WinMo or cheap $50 cell phone they ask me why not get an iPhone. I promptly respond them that the Apple phone is meant for iDumb people. I don’t need to get dumber than what I already am. They may feel a bit offended but they realise it is the truth. Mr. iJobs is making it a habit with his release of iPad. I much prefer the chinese clones which let me rip open the phone and do whatever I want with it rather than put my life in Apple’s hands.

  2. Phil Weber says:

    In defense of iPhone… πŸ˜‰

    First of all, I am not an Apple fanboi. Prior to purchasing an iPhone last October, I had never owned an Apple product. Most of my music was in Windows Media format and I used a Windows Mobile phone.

    But I grew tired of carrying two (or more) devices. I replaced my "dumb" phone with a WinMo device in the hope that it would replace my media player, but the screen was too small to comfortably watch video (at the gym, on airplanes, etc.) and it was super noisy when I used it to play music through my car stereo. So I was stuck with separate phone and media player.

    The final straw was that I was paying $100/month for voice and data plans from AT&T. By switching to an iPhone, I save $30/month and eliminate a device. It has helped me to DE-clutter.

    So there. πŸ˜‰

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yogesh…  πŸ™‚

    Phil – whatever. You are lucky I already like you. Because I’d totally call you on that fanboy thing (or at least that you spelled it "fanboi"). Jebus, Phil.

  4. David Hayes says:

    Nicely written post I agree completely! I’m looking for a tablet but the iPad isn’t it. I’m still holding out for the "Courier" becoming a a reality, that looks amazing

  5. My first MP3 player was the Nomad II back in 99 or 2000 or something like that but I use an iTouch now and like it.  No Apps and I don’t buy from iTunes.  If something better comes along, I have no problem switching.

    I use an android phone because of the app lockin on the iPhone and because I won’t go to AT&T.  I don’t have a reason to be available to all either and almost never use the phone part but I like to be able to reach out when the mood strikes.  

    I’m excited about the iPad in spite of what was shown in in the keynote because I saw what I’ve been looking for since the first TabledPCs came out.  A light, medium sized true tablet form factor.  I don’t want a 4lb laptop with a touchscreen.  I want something I can carry around everywhere and write on when I need to make a not of something.  When someone makes a note taking app structured like OneNote for the iPad, I can finally get rid of all of my paper notebooks.  That’s worth the price of entry to me.

    If there was something like that out there already on Windows, I’d be after it too….at least I wouldn’t have to wait for someone to make a copy of OneNote for me.

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    David Hayes – I’ll have to look into what that is.

    Scott Gentzen – all sounds reasonable to me. Really.

  7. belmontej says:

    Excellent, well put! I now have new fuel for my debate with friends on why they don’t need every iFanatic product that comes on the market! πŸ™‚

  8. Duncan says:

    Up until a couple of years ago I was still using a walkman and cassette tapes. Only 2 months ago did I replace my 5 year old flip phone that did nothing else except take a few calls.  So now I have an iPod Shuffle (its all I need) and a newer phone with no apps.

    I am however around people all the time who have their fancy phones and gadgets.. and almost daily I want to rip the phone out of someones hand whilst they are talking going through the checkout at the grocery.. or walking around with their blue-tooth thing set on talking into open space.  

    I think part of it is that some people like to feel important. How many do you see walking around with belts like police officers and gadgets hanging all over the place. Back in the early 90’s, being given a pager and knowing ‘they’ could get in touch with you just bugged the crap of us. Now we advertise to one and all.. Here are 15 ways you can get in touch with me. One of them will always reach me.

    I guess it is the same with people who have 400 friends on facebook (I have 24 btw and I could cut that down to 10 easy enough).

    I am just different I guess. I prefer to walk along the quiet path and hear the sound of nature or good conversation with people who are next to me..  

    Roll on the day when all gadgets suddenly stop working πŸ™‚

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    Duncan – sounds like you are at peace with life….good for you!