opinion Australians woke up to the news this morning that the next generation of the *cough* Apple of Steve Jobs’ eye would hit local shores on March 25; a new tablet to salve our compulsive need for the latest technology and a new colour scheme to make sure nobody was in any doubt as to the fact that we had the newest model.
For a few moments, we were elated.
But minutes after Jobs’ presentation finished, the cynicism set in as publications like Engadget started to tally up precisely what was actually new in the latest Apple hotness. And that tally didn’t precisely weight in Apple’s favour. With no iPhone 4-style ‘Retina’ screen, no multiple form factors, no real software upgrade or user interface overhaul, few extra ports and so on, it’s not hard to see why much of the initial reaction to the iPad 2 has been a collective, global “meh”.
So we thought we’d add some fuel to that negativity fire, as well as a bit of local colour. Here’s five reasons why Australians, specifically, shouldn’t buy the iPad 2. Treat it as an antidote to the mega-hype that will be circulating today in Australia’s media-sphere about Steve Jobs’ latest masterpiece. We’re calling it anti-marketing.
1. It’s the same as the old one
There’s no doubt that Australians loved the first iPad. Analyst firm Telsyte believes some 400,000 of us would have been using a tablet of some sort by the end of 2010 — and with Telstra alone connecting some 100,000 iPads to its network so far, there’s no doubt the overwhelming majority of that 400k total are iPads.
In other words, iPad hype reigned supreme in Australia last year, and the nation bought it in droves. But here’s the thing — as we’ve pointed out, the iPad 2 has no really significantly new features over the first iPad. So if you didn’t buy the first iPad when it launched in Australia in mid-2010, why would you buy one now?
2. You don’t need one
Common uses for the iPad include reading newspapers, magazines and books, browsing the internet, playing games and consuming multimedia such as movies, TV shows and music.
Well, here’s a big, fat reality check: Most of those functions are actually better performed in other ways. The overwhelming majority of Australia’s newspapers and magazines are not available on the iPad and Amazon’s Kindle eBook store has a way bigger range than Apple’s iBookstore — especially when it comes to those books actually available in Australia.
If you want to browse the internet on the move, why not do it on the iPhone, HTC Desire or BlackBerry which you already own? The same goes for listening to music, and as for watching movies and TV on the road, if you want to stay legal and avoid BitTorrent you had better buy a portable DVD player, as very few TV shows or movies are available for legal download on the iPad in Australia.
3. The competitive landscape is about to open up
Companies like Motorola, HTC, Samsung, LG and more have all revealed great tablet devices similar to the iPad over the past month, and many of the tablets are expected to hit Australia in the middle of 2011 — although major companies like BlackBerry maker Research in Motion have not yet confirmed local launch dates for their offerings.
Some of the devices have fantastic features that the iPad doesn’t — especially when you factor in the ability for manufacturers to customise the Android platform being used by many. They also come in form factors that Apple doesn’t, giving greater choice. In short, why would you buy an iPad 2, when we don’t know the full picture yet about what tablets will be available in Australia? Hold off a few months and we’ll know a lot more.
4. It costs too much
Even if you decide you definitely want a tablet device, why would you shell out the uber-dollars required to buy an iPad? Apple hasn’t yet confirmed Australian pricing for the iPad 2, but if the US pricing model (where the price is the same) is applied Down Under, the cheapest you’ll be able to buy an iPad 2 for is $449 — and that’s for the lowest end model, with just 16GB of storage and no 3G mobile broadband access.
For $269, by comparison, you can buy an Optus My Tab tablet, which provides many of the same functions as the iPad 2 — light browsing, email, reading and multimedia use — without being overpowered or overpriced. Better yet, it’s a sturdy little beast that you can give to your kids to take to school or on holidays. If it breaks, the cost is not overwhelming to buy a new one.
If you just want the basics and a little more, why pay double for the iPad 2?
5. Apple fandom is so two years ago
Most of my friends belong to Australia’s early technology adopter set. They often buy the latest and greatest mobile phones, game consoles and games, PCs and laptops — and now, tablets — when they come out, because they want to be on the edge of the technology curve and are prepared to pay for the privilege.
Among this crowd, if you’re an Apple fanboy with an iPhone, a MacBook Pro and an iPad, you’re really just … not cool. In fact, you’re viewed as a bit of a conformist — the sort of person who would switch off their brain and be subject to Steve Jobs’ famous reality distortion field.
No, most of this crowd has switched their focus away from Apple over the past year as the Google Android platform has taken off in a big way. Why pay for Apple gear that is inherently limited according to Jobs’ personal specifications, many ask, when you can get the same hardware with more open software?
In mobile devices, Apple is becoming the way Microsoft was seen in the late 1990’s and early years of the 2000’s — a monopolistic behemoth that controls its position in the market with an iron fist in a velvet glove. Do you really want to be an iClone?
Image credit: Screenshot of Motorola Xoom advertisement, text added by Delimiter