Jeez. As non-religious as I am, I feel sort of funny reliving my long-lapsed Catholicism and confessing on a Sunday. But I feel that I have to, because I have been unfaithful... to Apple.
I wasn't attracted to the iPad on the day it was announced. And yesterday, when the iPad was put in the hands of some 650,000 happy purchasers, I remained uncommitted to the newest persona of my Apple lover.
I have an iPod Touch. And an iPhone. And a MacBook Pro laptop.
When the rumors that Apple would produce a tablet started to fly, I was virtually certain that I'd want one -- because I adore all things Apple'ish. So now I feel like I've let Apple down by failing to leap aboard the iPad bandwagon.
In a TIME magazine piece, Stephen Fry ably points to why users of Apple products have such an intimate relationship with them. After all, I've never felt the need to apologize to Maytag for not buying their newest washing machine, or to Toyota for declining to purchase an updated Prius.
The iPad does perform tasks — it runs apps and has the calendar, e-mail, Web browsing, office productivity, audio, video and gaming capabilities you would expect of any such device — yet when I eventually got my hands on one, I discovered that one doesn't relate to it as a "tool"; the experience is closer to one's relationship with a person or an animal.
I know how weird that sounds. But consider for a moment. We are human beings; our first responses to anything are dominated not by calculations but by feelings. What Ive and his team understand is that if you have an object in your pocket or hand for hours every day, then your relationship with it is profound, human and emotional. Apple's success has been founded on consumer products that address this side of us: their products make users smile as they reach forward to manipulate, touch, fondle, slide, tweak, pinch, prod and stroke.
The MacBook laptop that I'm typing on has a Multi-Touch Trackpad rather than a mouse or some other less touchie-feelie control device. I'm frequently caressing its sleek aluminum surface with my fingertips to make my computer respond to my desires.
There's a decided sensuality to this. The Trackpad is much more pleasing to use than a mouse with buttons, and I'm sure the iPad takes the user's relationship with the device up several more levels of intimacy, since the whole screen is touchable.
Yet for now I have to remain on the iPad purchasing sidelines. I'm in like rather than lust with it, which is different from how I initially felt about my iPhone and MacBook Pro.
With them, my psyche screamed "I want! I want!" once I knew enough about their sexy attributes. With the iPad, it's more like "Hey, I'd invite it in for a roll in cyberspace if one appeared (free) at my door, but I don't feel like paying to play around with it."
I'm still questioning whether the iPad is going to be a viable ebook reader. I want to be able to highlight and annotate with my fingers, just as I do with the many nonfiction books I read now. And I'm bothered by the lack of Flash support, the absence of a camera, and how reviewers complain about typing on the virtual keyboard.
A general conclusion about the iPad is that it is a media consumption device, not a media creation device. As a regular blogger, this means that the iPad can't replace my laptop, because I do a lot of typing and need a device that is attuned to wordsmithing.
Sitting at a coffeehouse table right now, comfortably looking at a quasi-vertical 13 inch screen while comfortably typing on a horizontal lighted keyboard with nice tactile and audible feedback, I can't see myself enjoying writing a blog post while hunched over an iPad lying flat on the table.
It's a good bet that version 2.0 of the iPad will be much improved, and version 3.0 even more so. So there's a chance that an iPad is in my future. I just need a "Must have!" reason to get one.
Alternatively, I suspect Amazon is busily working on the rollout of a Kindle ebook reader that will compete with the iPad. If a new Kindle has color and a touchscreen, I could be happy with it.
Anyway, I still love you, Apple. Let me know when the next generation of the MacBook Pro is on the market. Then I'll probably be in an Apple Store, drooling.