The announcement of the iPad last week was the latest event to receive the Hitler Downfall parody treatment, Mein Fuhrer’s rage wasn’t an isolated incident though as Apple’s latest product caused a flurry online. By Googling ‘iPad’ you’ll get a plethora of different YouTube videos, latest technology & traditional news as well as thousands of image and blog results. Interestingly one of the related searches is ‘iPad jokes’ – highlighting the mixed response to the details of the iPad. Despite the numerous jokes referring to the products name in connection to a sanitary towel, many have reacted fairly negatively to the features of the iPad.
One of the major gripes came from the fact that the operating system was identical to the iPhone. Although this means that some 140,000 iPhone apps can be used on the iPad, it doesn’t allow for using more than one application at the same time. This will surely be a major sticking point for many young people who naturally multitask on their laptops in behaviour such as writing a document and listening to music at the same time. However, having said this, it perhaps highlights a particular intention of the iPad, to fit into a multitasking lifestyle as opposed to a placing a multi-processing gadget into a multitasking lifestyle. As Charlie Brooker scathingly notes, the iPad is not quite a laptop and not quite a smart phone, but “a weird combination of portable and cumbersome: too small to replace your desktop, too big to fit in your pocket, unless you’re a clown.” Yet it’s easy to imagine young people using the iPad to casually read something while they’re engaging in other offline activities like watching TV or cooking.
The casual space that the iPad attempts to place itself in is typical of Apple products released in the latter half of the last decade. Yet the closed nature of the iPad heavily reflects Apple’s status as a company that portrays itself to foster much open innovation but, in many ways, is very much closed.
The above image highlights one of the major complaints about the iPad. Apple products, especially iTunes, iPods and iPhones, have used Digital Rights Management (DRM) to make it particularly hard to install non-approved applications and share music, video, books and games between users. One website has called for a petition for what it called “a computer than will never belong to its owner,” Apple incorporate a feature that allows them to remotely switch off applications and media in use by a user of the iPad. In some ways this is an extension of the veto system that exists for iPhone apps that are submitted and then rejected. Inevitably however, young people, who have grown up with a pophacking mentality in always being able to find the answers they crave through the internet or video game cheat codes, will almost certainly jailbreak their iPads as they have done with the iPhone. The iPad will ultimately sell because it’s an Apple product. This initial release is only version 1.0 – it took Apple’s engineers 2 years to code copy and paste to the iPhone.
It seems as though young people growing up with these gaming/reading devices will most certainly begin to refer to them as books. The creatively-fueled industries are beginning to change. Young people will no doubt enjoy interacting with the iPad, so it can possibly be suggested that the attitude towards it represents a kind of futureshock.