I’ve decided to upgrade to the iPhone 4 when it comes out on June 24, but I’ve scrapped any plans to purchase an iPad. While I’m not incredibly excited about committing to another two years with AT&T (I’m hoping this new antenna alleviates some of the dropped calls), I have to admit that my dependence on Apple products has become just that, a dependence. I’m approaching a point where my content and habits have become too ensnared in Apple’s web to be undone. Various attempts to make inroads over Google’s way have been snarled by a host of compatibility challenges.
I should say that my decision to refrain from buying an iPad has very little to do with my decision to upgrade to the iPhone 4. I just felt as though these two decisions had come to a point of convergence and for some reason figured I’d tackle them both in one blog. Still, I will assert that the iPhone 4, when combined with the latest iOS 4, can do pretty much everything an iPad can do. I resisted initial critics who panned the iPad as just an overgrown iPod touch, but in the end, that might not be far from the truth.
I’ll spend the $200 on a 16GB iPhone 4 because Apple has made a smartphone that is smaller, faster, prettier and offers better battery life than any other iDevice that has preceded it. While the FaceTime video calling feature is kind of cute, it’s really not all that interesting. Ditto on the iMovie app. The only other thing I’m interested in when it comes to the iPhone 4 hardware is a better camera, which will allow me to make decent-sized prints from the photos that I shoot on my phone.
As for the iPad, I recently got my mother set up with one, so I had occasion to get a good hands-on with that device. While I found the iPad had all of the Apple trademarks (slick design, best UI in the industry, easy-to-use), I felt like it was incredibly limited (perfect for my mother). Sure, you can watch movies, listen to music, search the Web, etc., but it’s still a device that relies heavily on your computer (and iTunes-bought content). It’s just not a stand-alone device (yet), which for some reason I think it should be for $500+.
This is to say nothing about the proprietary adaptors and docks that come along with owning an iPad. The fact that there are all of these other add-ons makes for an uncharacteristically sloppy design from Apple. Either that or those “extras” are all about profit (I’m guessing we’re getting warmer here). What makes these “extras” exceptionally frustrating is that they seem as though they could have easily been worked into the original design. The fact that there are as yet no truly competitive tablets on the market just means I’ll have to wait until there are.
AT&T has done its part to assure that the iPhone 4 will sell well by bumping upgrade eligibility for a ton o’ customers who otherwise would not have been ordering anything other than an unsubsidized iPhone 4 (and we know Americans aren’t big on the unsubsidized model). It wouldn’t surprise me if the iPhone 4 topples records and creates riots, but then it wouldn’t surprise me if didn’t, either. The cult of Apple’s marketing has become such a finely tuned thing that sales depend heavily on emotion, which can be ecstasy or boredom, depending on the weather.
If you doubt the Apple aura, consider that Steve Jobs recently derided Flash for being a “closed system” that falls short, contending that Apple is more open than Adobe. When the leader of the camp that has built a veritable Great Wall of China around his platform can say things like that, and still people nod their heads in agreement, you know they’re also going to buy a lot of his devices on emotion alone.