Roger L. Simon

To iPad or Not to iPad - that is the question

Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of Steve Jobs or by opposing…

Oh, never mind. It’s too late today anyway. It’s almost 7:00AM and I’m not online at the Apple Store. No iPad in my immediate future. But should I buy one? WSJ’S Walter Mossberg says yes, but Boing-boing’s uber-geek Cory Doctorow says nyet. As Jean Renoir famously said, “Everyone has their reasons.”

Doctorow puts his succinctly (well, relatively). He doesn’t like gizmos you can’t open up and that seem designed for technophobic mothers. Forgetting the bourgeois sexism (the mother in my house is my wife Sheryl who is a graduate of Princeton and a successful screenwriter and novelist and has used computers for twenty years), Doctorow has a point. At first glance, the iPad appears a passive item. It’s not for creating content, but for consuming it.

But what consuming. For five hundred bucks you can have a slick, light weight item on your coffee table for reading just about any book, magazine or blog you might desire or imagine with amazing clarity and ease, plus view movies and television similarly, plus play any number of games (again real or imagined), show the family photos, check your email and spend even more money than I already have for iPhone apps I don’t use. [I thought this was the pro-iPad paragraph.-ed. Just churning the economy.]

But seriously, folks. I actually do think the iPad could be a game changer, to use that rancid cliché. But even more for content providers than it is for consumers. Yes, it’s a beautiful convenient device that is likely to get even more beautiful and convenient in the years to come (see the iPhone), but for those making a living (or trying to) writing, drawing, animating, composing, etc., etc., it is a potential bonanza. Yes, the great thing about the Internet is that (almost) everything has been free. But that has also been the bane of the creative community. People are not used to paying for content. I suspect the iPad will begin to change that in significant ways. But the content had better be good because the competition will be hellacious. And that will be good for the consumer.