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01.29.10

Fans of Apple Disappointed by iPad; Hype is Paid for by Apple

Posted in Apple, DRM, FSF, GNU/Linux, Marketing, Novell at 9:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Looking beyond the spin and the shameless marketing, Apple’s announcement is a yawn

THE news is still filled with coverage of a non-event from Apple. The company has released or at least announced a product that’s inferior to anything that has been on the market for a while. What’s rather shocking is that Apple’s hype technique (it is fake hype which Apple knows how to generate) is actually working. There is a lot of coverage out there and nobody can explain why.

“iPad seems like a low-cost entry ticket into the “Apple lifestyle” (or club), much like the Mac mini.”Okay, so Apple has managed to generate so much hype for what seems like another one of their long-forgotten failures (like attempts at television) and perhaps we in GNU/Linux world can take a lesson in marketing. But whatever stunt Apple pulls, it doesn’t come for free. Only yesterday we showed that Apple may have bribed prominent figures who blog and now we find that Jason Calacanis too was among the recipients of an iPad weeks before the announcement. Calacanis is very influential and friendly to Macs, so Apple knows what it’s doing.

Apple’s “hype machine” is so blatant that IDG has just published a whole new article about it, titled “Apple’s tablet and the media hype machine”

The principle behind the Apple tablet hype-excitement-burnout cycle is nothing new, of course; we’ve seen this happen time and time again (see: the weeks leading up to every other Apple event in recent history). Whether you’re an Apple fan or an Apple hater, odds are you’ve by now reached the point of saturation when it comes to the endless analysis of a product we don’t actually know anything about.

iPad seems like a low-cost entry ticket into the “Apple lifestyle” (or club), much like the Mac mini.

GNU/Linux Does Better

As SJVN puts it, GNU/Linux is already offering something better than Apple’s iPad.

[R]eally, is there anything here that Linux can’t do just as well for less money?

[...]

Besides the Moblin/Atom boxes, you’ll also see iPad-like tablets using ARM processors and Google’s Android 2.0 take on Linux coming out at about the same time. Android 2 vendors, like Motorola with its Droid, have always targeted the iPhone. The iPad will just be another arena for their battle.

And, last, but by no means least, there’s Google with its Chrome operating system. It’s going to take longer to come to the market then the others but I can see Chrome Linux powered netbooks giving the iPad trouble as well as giving the traditional desktop market fits.

All that taken into consideration, I’m also still sure that the iPad will be wildly popular. Apple products, when Apple puts its mind to it, usually are very successful… for users who have the money for the shiniest new toys. In the longer run though I’m willing to bet that collectively the Linux-powered entertainment tablets will end up having more customers.

Another tablet PC will come from MSI quite soon, maybe running GNU/Linux.

Micro-Star International (MSI) is set to launch a Nvidia Tegra-based tablet PC in the second half of 2010 priced US$500, according to company sales director Sambora Chen.

Lenovo’s new tablet runs both GNU/Linux and Vista 7.

Question of Freedom

As we noted yesterday, the FSF attended this launch event of Apple and it did a great job highlighting the problems and attracting press coverage. Among the resultant articles we have:

IDG: Is the iPad ‘iBad for freedom’?

In an online petition and an open letter to Steve Jobs, the open source organisation says: “The iPad’s unprecedented use of DRM to control all capabilities of a general purpose computer is a dangerous step backward for computing and for media distribution. We demand that Apple remove all DRM from its devices.”

Defective by Design.org is a campaign of the Free Software Foundation. GNU founder Richard Stallman is its president.

The Register: Apple iPad spanked with Defective by Design protest

Not everyone is drooling about Apple’s soon-to-be-launched tablet. Members of the anti-DRM group Defective by Design were protesting Wednesday morning outside Apple’s tighty controlled launch event, handing out cards mocking Apple’s invitation, with Apple’s tagline “Come see our latest creation” replaced with “Come see our latest restriction.”

Not only the FSF makes such an opinion be heard. Jeremy Allison too has publicly called it “iShackle ™”.

Well, what about Novell, Jeremy Allison’s former employer? Novell does not care what the FSF has to say (it even distorts the FSF's message); Novell is actually supporting the iPad by bringing .NET to it. Shame on Novell.

Even the Apple Fans Don’t Like It!

What is the iPad really? It’s an oversized iPhone thingie without even a keyboard for touch-typing. Here is a very concise summary from Tim Bray, a longtime Apple/Mac enthusiast:

Compared to my laptop, the iPad lacks a keyboard, software development tools, writers’ tools, photographers’ tools, a Web server, a camera, a useful row of connectors for different sorts of wires, and the ability to run whatever software I choose. Compared to my Android phone, it lacks a phone, a camera, pocketability, and the ability to run whatever software I choose. Compared to the iPad, my phone lacks book-reading capability, performance, and screen real-estate. Compared to the iPad, my computer lacks a touch interface and suffers from excessive weight and bulk.

“For creative people, this device is nothing,” Bray concludes. “Nothing Creative” was the headline.

Mike Masnick, who is very insightful on these matters, is excited neither by the iPhone nor the iPad, which is just a larger version it (with limitations akin to those of carriers). He writes:

Wait, Who Wants A Proprietary, Locked Down Device That Limits What You Can Do?

I honestly didn’t have very much to say about Apple’s introduction of the iPad, which seems like something of a non-event, really.

Exactly. In another post, Masnick insists that iPad will change nothing for publishers. DaniWeb has the article “15 reasons why the iPad is no game-changer” and MacLife names 7 things that are missing from the iPad. When even fans of Apple are not excited by a new Apple product (or find flaws in it), then clearly it’s just a dud. Let’s move on.

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4 Comments

  1. NotZed said,

    January 29, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Gravatar

    “In an online petition and an open letter to Steve Jobs, the open source organisation says:”

    Do you think IDG called it an open source organisation on purpose, or is the author just inept? It was a very badly written article in general, little more than plagiarising, sorry, paraphrasing, the anti-drm petition page.

    Well, I suppose any sort of coverage is better than none at all.

    And wow, the register article is quite fair about the dfd campaign and it’s importance, as are the comments, very well informed. Much in contrast to the arstechnica article from the earlier post, whose comments were just disturbingly uninformed (bordering on, and often breaching, offensive) for a presumably techie readerbase (or disturbingly astro-turfed).

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Ars has occasionally disappointed me for the past year, especially with Emil and the Mono promotion.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Still, I like it, I even participate in the forums.
    And they did cover the FSF boycott:
    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/01/protestors-ipad-is-nothing-more-than-a-golden-calf-of-drm.ars

  2. your_friend said,

    January 30, 2010 at 2:22 am

    Gravatar

    The iPad will not be a dud but it clearly highlights a lack of competition in the hardware market. The device is an ARM powered picture frame with a touch screen, wifi, bluetooth and different software. If ever there was a platform for a $100 computer, this is it. Something is very wrong with the market that is able to produce large quantities of picture frames but not GNU/Linux tablet computers. GPE and Opie have been ready for mass use for eight years and were making great progress before the whole PDA market was obliterated by Microsoft. iPhone is what palm and free software on PDAs were with universal wireless access, a few interesting interface tweaks and OEM support. It’s popularity is assured by government spectrum monopolies and Microsoft incompetence. The larger world market is not being served and worthy projects like OLPC are destroyed as the information revolution is delayed by publishing and telco incumbents.

    We should not overlook this attractive form factor’s great potential, we should demand it for ourselves. Portable, low power consumption computing with universal wireless access is a very desirable thing. With bluetooth, you don’t need connectors for keyboards and other input devices. With USB video, the form factor is not limited by it’s display size. The same can be said for PDA sized devices. Xstroke is an excellent input method for portable computing. We should demand these things in free forms from equipment makers. We should also demand that bogus patents on input methods be eliminated. Multitouch and effective graffiti input are things that people should be able to sell without fear of lawsuits. Apple is a villain in all of this and should be shunned no matter how well built or attractive their hardware. Microsoft and Apple are the primary reasons hardware makers have been so unresponsive to obvious hardware needs for the better part of a decade.

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