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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

YouPad, WePad, iPad, too!

So now that the dust has settled and the temporary camp sites that were erected outside of Apple stores have been broken down, it's safe to say goodbye to all of the iPad 2 hype. It was fun while it lasted, though, wasn't it? There were the joyful proclamations by the Mac masses, ever faithful to their brand, and confident that THIS would change the very face of computing. There were the Haters, poking a finger in the eye at the subpar camera and the other dubious upgrades offered on the device. There were the urban legends, including the one where a woman who had the coveted first spot in the long, snaking line outside of an Apple store sold her spot to a man for $900.

I wanted to see for myself, but, as I had a life, I waited until Saturday, after the dust had settled, to wonder into the nearest Apple store. The storefront window was festooned with silver balloons and oversized cardboard versions of the iPad 2 and its rainbow of colorful carrying cases. Inside the store stood two weary security guards and the team of blue-shirted geniuses, with various piercings, wool beanie hats, and soul patches, all zipping around tending to the 40 or so customers. They were exhausted, partly from crowd control the day before, but mostly, I suspect, from being asked the same question over and over again, "so, when are you getting more iPad 2s??"

The young lady who came to help me was a friendly soul who bore the look of one of those actors hired to stay in character all day at Disney - you know that look that says "I'm tired, and even though this is the happiest place on earth I'm mustering this smile purely out of obligation and not the actual emotion of joy." I felt bad for her, and soon we were chatting like old friends, that is until we were interrupted by a customer in the uniform of the hipster Mac owner - interesting glasses, functional footwear, expensive outdoor wear. He was feverish, having missed out on an iPad 2 the day before. He'd resorted to Apple's online store, but his beloved iPad 2 wouldn't be delivered for 3-4 weeks, so here he was, trying to get some hard intel from my genius on the arrival of the next shipment to the store. But my genius was formidable, and inscrutable, telling him that only the great and powerful Oz, oops, I meant Jobs would know when the next shipment would arrive. Our hipster friend left, most likely on his way to another Apple store, but he wasn't the only one who came in telling a similar story.

I sat down and toyed around with one of the display models, and while it is a very cool machine, I wondered just how much more special it could possibly be in comparison to its much hyped big sister, the original iPad. And what about the next very special thing that will inevitably be released from the gods of Cupertino? Will there ever be a time when we'll be allowed to just be happy with what we have?

Unfortunately, I think the answer is no. The iPad is like a lot of new technology - it's not something that we need, it's something that we desire. Need is so basic - I need shelter, I need air, I need clothing, I need food to eat and water to drink.  But desire - the desire to have the biggest house I can afford, to wear expensive clothing, to eat expensive food and drink expensive designer bottles of water - desire knows no end. Now, after getting the object of our desire, we may then press it into service and say that it does fulfill a need. This is the genius of Apple - the subversion of need with the perversion of desire all for a tidy profit. But hey, it's not like they invented this, I mean temptation has been around since a nice girl gave the first apple to a nice boy, and we know where that led us! I'm just saying:)

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