iPad 2: Should iBuy?

ipad 2It was obvious from the beginning that the iPad should have at least one camera.

There were a lot of reasons I wanted one from when they were first announced. There were a lot of reasons I didn’t need one, also.

So I let the camera be the deciding factor. It’s obvious it should have one. It seemed just as obvious to me that the next model would have one. I knew if I got one without a camera I would regret it when the ones with cameras were released. So I waited.

And now there are iPads with cameras.

So the factor I used to avoid having to make a decision last year no longer applies. Meaning I’ve got to make a decision based on other factors.

My short review of the iPad 2 is as follows:

• It eliminates every shortcoming that kept me from buying the first iPad.

• It adds no new killer app that makes me feel like I have to have one.

I’ve heard rumors about features that might be in the iPad 3, but none of them are anything that I feel like I just have to have, the same way I felt about the camera the first time around, so this seems like a device I could be satisfied with.

That second bullet is where I’m hung up, though, and it occurred to me this morning that I may be thinking about it all wrong.

Right now, my thought process is this — if I had an iPad, I would use it, without question. But I really don’t know much I would use it for that I couldn’t do right now with either my iPhone or my MacBook. It’s not really adding functionality, just making existing functionality more convenient.

BUT — when I bought my first iPhone, I could have said the same thing. I had a phone with internet and camera, and I had a computer. The iPhone did, theoretically, little that either of those didn’t do, it just make them more convenient.

The reality, however, is that the iPhone is so much more than the sum of its parts, and lets me do things that a regular cell phone and computer wouldn’t; things I didn’t fully understand until I had one.

And many of those things have nothing to do with the features listed on the Apple website, a lot of them are capabilities added by apps; I use third-party apps on my iPhone at least as much as the Apple on-board software.

So, I put the question out there for current or prospective iPad users — what am I missing? What features or capabilities does the iPad provide that you really don’t get until you experience one?

Here’s To The Crazy Ones

I was talking recently with Heather, who now owns a MacBook, an Apple TV, a Mac Mini and multiple iPhones, and uses a MacBook Pro at work.

Heather was relatively anti-Mac when we started working together. Now, there are people who own Apple products because of her.

She half-joked that there should be some sort of referral program. Apple, she argued, should cut me in for a piece of the action on purchases made directly or indirectly because of me. That would, indeed, be cool.

But, I explained, even without a literal cut of the profits, I still benefit.

As a former Apple stockholder, I benefited financially from the company’s growth. As an Apple user, I benefit from the incredible amount of R&D and technology acquisition the company can afford as its profits increase.

Simultaneously the most and least important result — least because there’s no material benefit, most because the intangible benefit is huge — is the benefit I receive as someone who has been using the Mac for more than 80 percent of the time it’s been around.

We won.

I was a Mac user when you were mocked for being a Mac user. I used Apple, as hard as this is to imagine, before Apple was cool. I used the Mac when Apple was a niche player, when software and peripherals were hard to come by, when seeing an Apple logo in a store was a rare thing.

Today you see it in gas stations.

We won.

I still have the Wired magazine “Pray” cover. Now Apple is the second-largest company in the world by market capitalization. Not second-largest computer company. Second-largest company.

Computer-wise, granted, it’s still true that most computers aren’t Macs. But counting Apple’s new tablet computer, Apple is now the leading seller of personal computers.

We won.

And for those of us were faithful during the Michael Spindler years, that’s worth more than any referral fee ever could be.

This isn’t meant to be gloating. It’s not meant to be an “I told you so.” A lot of the criticisms during those early years were valid. The Mac was expensive and had limited compatibility and a handful of peripherals. But for all those flaws, the faithful among us saw the potential.

It’s a good feeling that we’ve finally stuck around long enough for enough of that potential to be realized that other people can appreciate it, too.