Note: This item was written two days prior to the iPad's fateful release. Our crystal ball was a little hazy, so our predictions were off in a couple of cases, most notably the $499 starting price, which is admirable, and the alleged 10-hour battery life. Thanks to all who corresponded with witty missives. Now that the device has been released, we'll be offering some thoughts shortly.
For several months, rumors that Apple (AAPL) will release a touchscreen tablet-style computer have dominated the tech world, despite little or no tangible news to verify that. But that hasn't stopped reporters and bloggers from diving into the rushing stream of speculation over this still unnamed "iTablet," hurling themselves headlong into Steve Jobs's infamous "reality distortion field" (and generously fueling Apple's publicity machine). But not us. No, here at DailyFinance, we're far above leaping into the mosh pit. Instead, we realized we had 10 excellent reasons not to buy an Apple tablet. (Full disclosure: we've used Apple products for 20 years and love them.)O, Apple iTablet, how do we (already) hate thee? Let us count the ways.
1. The first version of any Apple product will be outdated soon. It's the First Commandment of Apple consumers: Thou shalt not buy the rookie products. "I'd like all the other 'beta testers' to work out the kinks first," one staffer here says. Sometimes, the launch is completely half-baked. Remember the iPhone's debut? Just months after it hit the market, the 4GB version was scuttled and the 8GB version's price dropped. Fact is, there will be a second tablet within months, and the price will inevitably drop. If you simply must have one, wait for it, because you'll be pretty annoyed when see how much it improves.
2. You don't need a giant thousand-dollar smartphone. You've got an iPhone. You've got a laptop. You just received a Kindle for Christmas. Why do you need a tablet? You're probably not sure. Unlike the iPod and the iPhone, this is a product without a clear need. Unless you deliver FedEx packages, you probably don't need a giant mobile touch-screen device. It won't replace your smartphone, which you carry around in your pocket, or your laptop, which needs a keyboard. Will you want to pay nearly $1,000 to carry around a tablet, along with your mobile phone, your work BlackBerry, your laptop, and your Kindle?
3. You're just going to break it, anyway. Picture yourself with your steaming coffee in one hand, your squirming toddler in the other -- and, somehow, your shiny new Apple tablet, playing Sarah Palin's Fox News clips you missed last night until -- gasp -- your precious Apple escapes and plummets to the floor, shattering into a million little pieces. In The Hunt For Red October, sub captain Marko Ramius observes: "Most things in here don't react well to bullets." Don't expect an Apple tablet to react well to almost anything in the world. Water, soda, food, kids, pets: you'll surely figure out a way to damage your new toy sooner or later.
4. Multifunction devices can do a lot -- just not well. Other than your couch, where might your tablet be more useful than what you're using now? Will you use your tablet instead of the PC at your office desk? Will you watch videos on it instead of your flat-screen monitor? Will you use it instead of your smartphone when you're out? No, no, and no.
5. Buy one, and you might as well wear a "Rob Me!" sign. Carrying a tablet around on public transit, on the street, or in a bar is a needless risk -- yet that's precisely where you're expected to use them. Cellphones stow invisibly in your pocket, and laptops fit innocuously into cases, but if you use the tablet as intended -- on the go -- you're just asking for someone to snatch it. Remember those iPod muggings, with those telltale, enticing white earbuds? Think about that whenever you're tempted to watch last night's Daily Show on the New York City subway.
6. The tablet never caught on -- and there's a reason for that. You do not need to buy a new gadget every time Steve Jobs tells you to. The iPod represented a major evolution over the Sony (SNE) Walkman, and the iPhone escalated the smartphone game. But the tablet seems driven by nothing more than desire. Just take a breath...put the tablet down...and back away...slowly.
7. No keyboard, no mouse, no dice. Typing (or "typing") on touchscreens is annoying. How many Tablet buyers will wind up connecting peripheral keyboards and mice? And then...well, what's the point? Besides, mobile devices are only as useful as their battery life. Unless the tablet has more than about six hours of power, it's going to wind up tethered to a wall. Just like your desktop.
8. Netbooks are cheaper. With a glut of netbooks on the market -- with keyboards! -- offering a full Web experience with significantly less sticker shock than the tablet, there's no reason to go there. If you've got the cash for a tablet, you'd be better off with a MacBook Air, a device with far more functionality packed into its three pounds.
9. Something better's coming. With advances in speech recognition, data input will be changing radically over the next few years. Perhaps more importantly, advances in mobile display technology suggest we'll eventually be projecting images and videos on blank walls, or even into space. Or we'll be wearing headsets that project tiny images of the screen into our eyes at close range. In any event, the tablet is an innovation that'll surely be obsolete within a few years.
10. Beware -- Apple also built the world's most infamous paperweight. One word: Newton.