I Want You, Useless iPad


Written by Brian Merchant

I want an iPad. I have kind of sort of wanted one since Steve Jobs first foisted the rectangular non-laptop, non-smartphone ‘tablet’ straight through the walls of that cavernous exhibition room, packed with giddy execs and tech writers, and into the internet ether, its coming heralded by even giddier bloggers and tweeters and status updaters.

Steve Jobs looked like a Hollywood actor playing the role of a hammy God in a B-movie. The ‘tablet’ he waved above his head was a runestone from the future, a religious artifact unearthed from a forthcoming society made benevolent by Bill and Ted and their Wyld Stallyns.

Millions of people bought it, and then bought the new one that was the same but made the old one suck. I see it on coffee shop counters, loaded up with e-books, on airplanes. Mostly, I see people playing Angry Birds.

And now there is another new one, and I kind of sort of want one again. I really kind of do.

That is the genius of Apple.

The iPad is the epitome of the created want. It is a consumer product that fulfills no function that a laptop or smartphone cannot; and everyone who wants to buy an iPad already has one of those things. It is something that we never knew we wanted before, nor ever needed. Everyone knows this. Steve Jobs knew this more than any of us will ever know this.

But the iPad is about the “experience”! It’s for video and apps and for being part of the trendsetting, trailblazing crowd that is actively participating in how we will consume the internet “next”. This is no mistake. Obvs. This is the message Apple has diligently worked to craft, with smart design, prohibitive pricing, and aggressive branding. This is the world that loyal Apple customers live in:

The future is here, it just isn’t evenly distributed yet. I wonder if William Gibson reads cyberpunk thrillers on an iPad e-reader.

Apple is powerful, the call of the crowd is powerful, and the desire to be elite, to be taste-making—is powerful. And that is why I want one.

But let’s not kid ourselves.

The iPad is a 3D TV. It is a banana slicer. It is the entire stock of the Sharper Image condensed into a single product. It is pointless. It exists exclusively for he or she who retains enough disposable income to justify the need to “experience” the internet in a marginally different way. It remains a blatant repackaging of widely available technologies and functionalities, and that becomes clearer with every new model that is released, every new model that does little new besides make the older one less sexy and beam obscene profits up to the Apple mothership.

I would have bought one by now if I ever could have convinced myself otherwise. Earlier this year, I almost did. My girlfriend’s brother, who works at Apple, mentioned something about a 20% discount.

But I thought about it for a moment longer. I lifted up my laptop. It was not very heavy. And I do not need to play Angry Birds on a “tablet.” I do not need to buy more useless consumer electronic products. But I very much want to.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.


Related Stories:

Chinese Workers Make $8 Per iPad

The Religion of Apple

The iPad, the Innovation of the Year for Kids With Disabilities


Photo from anitakhart via flickr


W. C
W. C5 months ago

Thank you.

William C
William C5 months ago

Interesting, thanks.

Andi P.
Andi P.3 years ago

hopefully by selling obat untuk wanita frigid someday I could afford it. thank you

Jink Huge
Jink H4 years ago

I want one too...

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

i dont have one. I don't want one. And I am happy with my books, my crocheting, my son, my man, and my puppy :)

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

I don't have an iPad! :-P

Noel S.
Noel S.5 years ago

I've a computer.
It's not filled-up to its capacity.
It's as fast as I need.
I can only use one at once.
Stealing it will be hastle for the thief ( as well as me, obviously ) - becuase its not compact &
portable or simply up-to-date. But then again I don't need it like I would need to take my a dog for a walk every day.

I've an automobile..
It's not worn out.
It's as fast as I need.
I can only use one at once.
Stealing it will be hasle for the thief ( as well as me, obviously) - becuase its not that compact
or simply up-to-date. But then again I don't need it like I would need to take my dog for a walk every day.

Juan P.
Juan P6 years ago

I have an Imac that I purchased when my old dell finally became impossible to upgrade, I guess if you want an Ipad for whatever reason, thats fine, I just never have seen the need for even a laptop, as I am not in business, and when I travel if I am driving I cant use it, and if by plane or train, I want to engage with other humans that are with me, when I don't want to talk, the Ipods music is more than enough, other activities I engage in are outdoor, and those are not ideal for Ipads either.
If I where to get one, someone is going to have to come up with a rental program, I do think they are better than smart phones because of the size. Thanks for the article.

Meg Graham
Meg G6 years ago

I love the article and I so understand. I went through this just with my mobile phone which is used exculsively for my business. My old one needed a new battery which was proving difficult to find and I so wanted a smart phone to do all this groovy stuff my other phone couldn't do. But apart from the battery there was nothing wrong with my current phone, oh decisions, decisions. I was weighing up consumerizm, desire, need, practicality what a smart phone could do for me and my business. Finally the phone made the decision for me, the battery failed totally, I had found a new battery for it but it hadn't arrived at the shop and it was going to be another week before it would arrive. No phone, no business, so I now have a new smart phone which I love and I hate.
No one told me about the amount of power they use, my old phone when the battery was good would last 2- 3 days without charging. The smart phone requires charging everyday and sometimes twice a day. The signal and reception strength is weaker even though this new phone is approved for rural areas. It is harder to answer than my old fliptop while driving and harder to make calls while driving.
But I can now email while not at home which means I have more free time when I am home. Take good quality photos no need to carry my camera. I can text easily, I can begin to create documents to download to my computer to finish off later, I can find things on the net while out on the road. When my maps don't cover an

Dominic C.
Dominic C6 years ago

Treehugger, you are so right! Don't be fooled by commercialization, it will never end year in, year out!