Why I don’t have an iPad yet

How are you guys? Long time no see… I’ve been so busy with real world stuff that I haven’t had much chance to blog. Don’t worry though; I’m still jotting notes and adding to my ever-increasing list of draft posts faster than I’ll ever be able to clear them.

Alright. Let’s talk about monopolies.

I’ve been thinking at great length about buying an iPad. So much thinking, in fact, that after 3 generations I still haven’t bought one yet. I’ve bought an iPad for each of my three sets of parents but not myself. In theory it should’ve been a no-brainer after Apple released the New iPad with the retina display. After all, that was the one feature I’d been eagerly waiting for. I already own an iPhone and Macbook Air, and spent copious amounts of time and money accruing apps and content through iTunes and the Mac App Store so it’s not like I haven’t already sold my soul to the cult of Jobs.

But therein lies the problem. I feel like I’ve unwittingly invested too heavily into the Apple ecosystem without proper consideration, and I’m wondering whether I’m putting all my eggs into one basket.

Let me back up a bit and explain what I mean by the Apple ecosystem – I’m not just talking about owning a bunch of iDevices. Those are just a variety of different-sized windows into the content world that Apple has built. Media (music, movies, games, etc.) isn’t what it used to be. CDs are likely to be the last of its kind, a brand-agnostic platform that can be played on hardware manufactured by any company (most likely Sony, who we’ll come back to in a bit). Today, when you buy something from iTunes, you’re no longer receiving a physical product, but buying into the company. Sure, progress in the area of digital rights means that you can get a file in a standard format, without restrictive Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes so that can be played on devices from other manufacturers, but ultimately if you accidentally lose the file, you’ll go back to Apple – why would you pay for a replacement copy when you’ve essentially purchased a life-long right to it so long as you keep using their system! How is this a bad thing, you say?

It’s that old saying: the medium is the message.

We think we’re buying songs, movies and games, but really, the content itself is free (another topic that I hope to cover in depth in a future post) and the money that you pay goes entirely towards building the ecosystem through which it is distributed. The money that artists and developers receive isn’t payment for their intellectual property – it’s a commission, albeit a fairly large one, for helping Apple to sell their platform.

Taken to its logical conclusion, Apple’s success reduces choice. The bigger they get, the harder it becomes for anybody to compete with them. Like the banks, Apple too will become “too big to fail”.

In all seriousness – and this has nothing to do with my being a member of one of their social media marketing groups – Sony is the only company in the world with interests in the critical parts of the content ecosystem to be able to take Apple on. The reason why they’re struggling is because they haven’t been able to corral their offerings to deliver a consistent customer experience. Both Google and Microsoft lack coverage in the consumer electronics space, and must partner with other companies such as Samsung and Nokia to even be in the game. Likewise for content – merely providing a conduit (marketplace) for content to be sold is nowhere near the same as being able to offer an integrated multi-device platform (both Apple and Sony), or actually owning the content (Sony).

Content is the lifeblood of devices, and with each additional device I buy (i.e. the New iPad), the more I must invest into buying content from Apple to make that purchase worthwhile. I’m not so loaded that I can afford to buy the same content through both iTunes as well as Sony’s ecosystem (in order to be able to watch shows on TV through my PS3). If I buy the iPad, then I’ll be more inclined to also buy an Apple TV so that I can watch iTunes video content on TV.

Hehe… given the above, can you imagine what kind of buyer’s remorse I’ll suffer after buying an iPad? And that’s why I don’t have one yet.