From: The Wall Street Journal
Why I Don't Want an iPad for Christmas
By BRETT ARENDS
Everyone wants an iPad this Christmas, right?
Apple's tablet computer is this year's hottest adult toy. Sales are booming. James Cordwell, an analyst at Atlantic Securities, expects the company to sell six million this quarter, half of them here in the U.S. It's driving the company toward what will probably be yet another blowout Christmas period.
Apple is expected to sell millions of its popular iPad tablet computer this holiday season but Brett Arends has several reasons why he's not willing to join the masses and buy one for Christmas.
But you can count me out. I don't want an iPad for Christmas, thanks very much.
Why? Here are my reasons.
1. It'll be cheaper next year.
How dumb are people? Apple is coming out with iPad II in 2011. (Mr. Cordwell predicts April.) That means fanatics won't be seen dead with this year's model, and you'll be able to get it much cheaper. Try eBay or buy it "refurbished" direct from Apple. Price deflation in technology is a wonder to behold. Remember the first iPhones? The 8-gigabyte models cost $599. A few months later they cost $399. Now they're paperweights. The average middle-class American earns maybe $16 an hour after taxes. So if you save, say, $150 on a product, that's more than nine hours' extra work. Of course, if you love your job so much you like putting in an extra day for free, go ahead.
2. It's going to be better next year.
The next iPad will have new features—allegedly including video conferencing and maybe a better screen. This year's model will be so over. When Steve Jobs unveiled the second iPhone in 2008 he actually made fun of the slow first model—the same product that he had hailed a year earlier as the eighth wonder of the world. The audience yukked it up. Me? I'm not a fan of buying a product for $500 from a guy who's going to deride it a few months later.
3. Check out those profit margins!
OK, I admit it: I've been wrong about Apple stock lately. After correctly turning bullish at $85 two years ago, I turned cautious waaay too early. My mistake? This isn't a technology company. It's a luxury brand, like Hermès or Tiffany. And it's wooed customers so they'll pay almost anything for its products. Last Christmas, Apple's gross margins were 41%. That's incredible. It's good for Apple, good for stockholders—but not so good for shoppers. Me, I don't want to support someone else's 60% markups with my own dollars. Generally speaking, the smarter move is to invest in the Tiffanys of the world—and shop at the Wal-Marts.
4. Competitors are coming.
Right now the iPad has just one serious rival, the Samsung Galaxy Tab. So no wonder it's doing so well. But all that will change in just a few months. New tablets, many running on the Android platform, are expected to hit the market as soon as March. These will give you a much wider choice of size, style and operating system. And when these companies duke it out for market share, you know you'll be able to get a deal. So why would I buy now?
5. No Flash.
Do you want to watch video clips on the Web? On a boring old laptop or PC, you can do that for free. On the amazing new iPad? Only sometimes. Most Web video runs on Adobe Flash, and the iPad can't—or rather, won't—handle Flash. So there are plenty of video clips you won't be able to watch. And plenty of others you will have to pay to watch, either by renting them from Apple's iTunes, or by paying for a subscription service like Hulu Plus. Mr. Jobs had a very public bust-up with Adobe over Flash this year. I have sympathy for his position, as Flash can be unstable. But it's still the software most Web video clips use, and I want that choice.
6. The cost of the add-ons.
The iPad starts at $499 plus tax. That's nearly twice as much as a netbook. And I know if I get the cheapest iPad I'll regret it. It has only 16 gigabytes' storage. And it can only go online when you are in a WiFi hotspot, like at home or in Starbucks. A lot of the iPad's best features need an Internet connection. So if I want to use them wherever I go, I'll want the model with a 3G data plan that works everywhere. And those start at $629, plus at least $15 a month. Total cost: at least $809, plus tax, in the first year, and $989 over two years. This I don't need.
7. The games.
Yes, they're great. But that's the problem. Computer games are as addictive as cigarettes. And this is a habit everyone is taking up, not quitting. This is why I dumped my iPod Touch. Am I alone? Maybe. But I don't think so. I know lots of people with horror stories about addiction to immersive games. Someone I know—now, as it happens, a British member of parliament—once sat down to play Civilization, a role-playing game, on a PC one Saturday evening and didn't finish until three o'clock ... Thursday morning. (He stopped when he ran out of cigarettes.) And that was on an old PC. Games on the iPad are more intense than ever. A friend recently showed me some of the serious news apps on his iPad. I noticed that to get to them he first had to "wave" us past several screens of games. Is he really using his iPad to read that article about the Indonesian economy, or is he playing Angry Birds? Hmmm. You make the call.
8. The waste.
The scarcest resource in life isn't money, land, fresh water or gold. For singles under 25, the scarcest resource is sex, and for the rest of us it's time. And the biggest waste of time I've ever discovered—after games (see above)—is the Web. Nothing comes close. It's a total black hole. Do I want to carry a device that lets me surf the Web endlessly wherever I am? That's easy. It's amazing how much time I have to read now that I never look at Facebook.
9. It'll get boring.
This year's totem is next year's meh. Economists call this "the hedonic treadmill." Human beings quickly get bored of each new item. We always want the buzz from something newer, better, bigger, faster or fancier. But the treadmill never stops. Think of how amazing the first Palm Pilots seemed back in the 1990s. Look at them now. The iPad may look like the eighth wonder of the world today. Soon it will seem so old.
10. The whole Apple cult is starting to creep me out.
OK, I already knew about the fans. Last summer, three-quarters of the people standing in line so they could buy the new iPhone the moment it went on sale already owned an iPhone. But now it's the company, too. Look at how it reacted last spring, when a Silicon Valley blogger scooped an early iPhone 4: Next thing he knew he was being handcuffed on his lawn in front of his wife while police ransacked his house. And think of Steve Jobs, complaining that news coverage of the iPhone 4's troubled aerial had been "blown so out of proportion that it's incredible." Hmmm, out-of-proportion media coverage—you sure you want to go there, Steve? This is the guy marketing a new telephone under the slogan "This changes everything. Again." Maybe this stuff shouldn't matter to me, but I have to confess it's turning me off.