Locked in.

One of my favorite things about the changes to OS X and iOS is the interoperability between the platforms. This will only be increased as OS X moves to Mountain Lion, with tighter links between the devices joined with iCloud as it becomes more robust. On top of this, the iTunes App Store is an unbeatable location for software downloads, and barring jailbreak, your one-stop shop for your iOS devices.

The strongest guiding factor in how I chose a mobile platform in the past (dating way back to the early-mid-2000s) was the availability of software for my device. I began on Windows Mobile, because at the time, they seemed more exciting than their Palm counterparts. WM had a ton of software, but installing it wasn’t elegant or particularly easy. The devices were middling at best, and required some serious hacking to even be usable. After that, I moved quickly through BlackBerries in a six-month tryst. I didn’t purchase the original iPhone because the idea of not being able to install apps was just unacceptable to me. But when the App Store launched, it made something I’d been doing laboriously for years exquisitely easy. I landed on the iPhone 3G shortly after it launched, and never looked back.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve looked back lots of times. With Android, with webOS, with Windows Phone. I continue to look back whenever something catches my attention. That’s how I am. Something’s different now, though, and I’ve only recently been able to identify what that is. The idea of a platform lock in based on software purchases is not a new one; it’s happened on desktops for years. If you put a good deal of money into a platform, it’s hard to pull away from it when something new comes along. Psychologically, you attempt to add value to the decision based on the money you’ve already spent that is irretrievable. We know this as the sunk-cost effect.

However, I’ve discovered something far more compelling than a financial imperative to stay with a particular phone/platform. It’s something that isn’t as easily quantifiable, and can’t be assessed in a rational way as easily because there is an innate emotional component that ties directly to how I feel in the course of a given day. At its simplest, it’s my time, but that time is based and built upon complex workflows that I’ve refined over the course of years. Years spent on one platform (iOS) and strengthened by the addition of fantastic products and services that enable me to work more efficiently from wherever I am. I take great pleasure in discovering new apps that allow me to do things more smoothly or that add value to an activity in which I’m already engaged. That pleasure (and time-saving) translates directly to my dopamine receptors in some nerdy way, because I enjoy this stuff in a way that most people don’t, and can’t even understand. It’s a pure love of great software, but compounded with the benefits of enhancing (at least that’s what I tell myself) my daily life.

Sure, there are some apps that appear on many platforms. I live in Dropbox, and I can get it almost everywhere. There are plain text editors for every phone, I’m sure. I can scan documents with my phone and sync them as PDFs with a lot of different apps. But this isn’t always the case, and sometimes even though an app may appear on other platforms, it’s not as useful because to the developers it may be an afterthought since iOS is the main platform for which they build. More importantly though is not that I can get apps everywhere, but that I find myself unwilling to trade off to inferior versions of these apps or add steps to the processes that I can perform more easily on iOS. When I find a really great way to do something, I want to stick with it. I don’t want to spend time figuring out a new way to do something that probably isn’t as good as the way I’ve been doing it. And those words “spend” and “time” are more salient to me than any amount of money I can spend on software. I can always make more money; I’ll never get back my time – or at the very least, the perception of time.

The problem I’m facing as a lifelong lover of technology is that my excitement for new devices is still there, but slightly diminished because immediately after I feel the thrill of seeing something cool, there’s a part of me, however deep in my subconscious that surfaces a thought: “this is great, but it’s not going to fit”. It sounds dumb. Why can’t I just enjoy things? What’s my problem? As our devices become more interconnected, I dont see as much value in having any that aren’t. And as more manufacturers chase the idea that people are going to own all of their individual devices (as I do with Apple gear), it’s getting harder and harder to get the most out of things when they exist outside of your workflows.

I used to switch phones with what could only be described as alarming frequency. The only constants were that I’d enter my IMAP settings, add a few phone numbers, and that was mostly it. No platform interconnection, no syncing over the air, no compelling apps I simply couldn’t live without. Because they just didn’t exist. In the years since I’ve adopted iOS, I’ve created stores of application data, some of which I rely on heavily both personally and for business, and some of these can only be used within iOS and in some cases with a Mac. It’s not enough for me to try other platforms – I really can’t leave until I see a path on which to travel. For now, I’m locked in. Quite frankly, it’s a good problem to have.

The Kindle Fire. Take two.

As co-host of two iOS podcasts and a mobile design podcast and as an iOS user, when I mentioned I took the plunge, people on Twitter asked me to write up my thoughts. As such, I’ve decided to try and approach this as pragmatically as possible, so I’ll be looking at this from the perspective of a technically proficient and critical nerd, and also as much as possible like a regular person might.

I say take two not because I’m the second person to write a review (btw, read Marco’s exhaustive and very specific review as well – he covers the super minutiae better than I could hope to) but rather because the first take for me was a less-than-stellar experience in a brick-and-mortar store with the Fire immediately after it launched that left me feeling less-than-impressed. But as I have some time until the next iPad arrives, and I’m feeling experimental, I decided to give it another shot. I had heard that the software update improved the interface a bit, and was curious to see it for myself.

As Marvin would say: let’s get it on.

In keeping with fashion these days, I offer you this:

tl;dr

Though needing some definite love in a few areas, the Kindle Fire is not nearly as bad as I’d felt in my initial experience. There are some questionable decisions that Amazon’s made regarding both hardware and software, but for a content experience (following the intentions that Amazon has set for use of the device), the size and UI are functional and easy enough to use for most people. Nerds will likely continue to find fault in a few key areas.


In The Hand

I’ve gone on record saying that while I don’t think the iPad would work as a 7″ tablet, I do see a place for smaller devices in the market. I stick by that. Whereas the 10″ Android tablets I’ve tried feel cartoonishly long or tall depending on the direction in which you’re holding it, the dimensions of the Fire, while similar, don’t feel as strange. I’ve read paperback books that were oddly shaped, and it’s not too foreign a feeling, despite my preference for 4:3 devices like the iPad and TouchPad.

It is, however, a bit heavier than you’d expect. If you’re holding it up – and you’re likely to do it based on its overall size – you may feel fatigued. I noticed my hands becoming sore when reading in certain positions for extended amounts of time. Granted, they got sore with the iPad too, but I was more inclined to rest that larger device on something, so I avoided the experience without realizing it. The build quality of the Fire is, as a result of this weight, significant. It feels very sturdy and relatively high-end given its price point. It feels good.


Hardware

The most distinctive thing about the Fire’s hardware is probably that there are no exterior buttons, save for the awkwardly-placed power button on the bottom of the device. It’s tiny, and I can see how it’d be hard for some people to find it to activate or turn off the device, but I didn’t have too much trouble. My hands are smaller than some, and I’m used to manipulating smaller controls like that on other devices, so take that for what it is.

Not having exterior volume controls is a little strange, though, especially while watching a movie or listening to music. When watching video, it’s distracting to have to tap the screen, then tap the settings gear, then adjust the volume (Amazon seems to default to having the volume icon pre-selected when you do this, almost as though they’re trying to mitigate the annoyance) – but it’s not horrible. It’s definitely not ideal, though. During music playback, if you have the screen off, then you’ve got a slightly awkward power button press (since there’s no home button to quickly tap to wake the device), then a swipe, then the taps I just described. Not terrific. [EDIT: I discovered a setting in the music player that enables lock screen controls for playback; it’s a little odd, but it works fairly well.] Will it slowly drive me mad over time? Possibly. But then again, I’ll probably do more text-based consumption on the Fire than I will audio/video media, despite its prevalence at the top level of menu navigation and Amazon’s content availability.

Speaking of media, the speakers are ok, not great. A little thin, and not loud enough. Well, they’re sort of loud enough if you crank the volume, but the controls are sensitive, so you’ll probably spend a lot of time between not loud enough and damn it why can’t I just get this a tiny bit louder.

Battery life is definitely solid; not iPad solid (and definitely not e-ink Kindle solid, which is otherworldly), but very good. More than I expected. But that was a lot of app browsing and reading; throw video streaming in the mix and you’ll likely watch it drop a lot faster. It also gets a bit warm during video playback which never leaves me feeling great about a device.


Software

As we all know by now, the Fire runs a highly customized version of Android, forked from Google’s path down a questionable road of Amazon’s choosing. They’ve made some good choices and some strange ones with this decision.

First, the overall interface to a regular user is pretty good. You start up and you see a text bar of all the things you can do, and it’s pretty clear what those things are. Jump to an area and you’ll have (in most cases) two options: what’s in the cloud and what’s on your Fire. And you can usually hop over to a storefront for that area to get more stuff quickly. While not exactly what I would call intuitive, the Fire’s UI is obvious, and that’s very important too and not to be diminished.

The other thing I noticed is that given Amazon’s customizations, the typical things you might think to do with an Android device (widgets, changing launchers, theming, etc.) are missing. And in this case, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Not only has Amazon removed the fiddly nature of Android to make a more simplified device that more people can understand, they’ve made a stand as to how they want to shape the presentation of their content (and yours). It’s a very Apple-like move, that goes against the tweaky lineage Android has forged up to this point, but it’s actually a bit refreshing, because you don’t spend the time you normally would playing and trying a million different visual and functional configurations. You just use the device.

Having said that, I immediately tried treating it like a regular Android tablet and began browsing for apps. The on-device store for Android apps that work with the Fire is fairly limited – for people like us [“What do you mean YOU PEOPLE?!”]. For regular people, it’s probably more than enough. There are some confusing elements, though, as Marco pointed out. The appearance of multiple versions of apps – one of which may be labeled “Kindle Fire Edition” or something of that nature – could definitely be confusing to people. It sort of confused me for a second. Fire-optimized apps that I tested generally have a more natural feel on the device, whereas the other apps you can install from the store may just look stretched, which is a complaint of many Android tablet users.

If you try to browse the Amazon Appstore from your computer, prepare to see a lot of apps that are not compatible with your Fire. Amazon clearly calls this out when you view the app page, and while you’ll be allowed to purchase the apps, they won’t sync down to your device and install. There is a way around this and I’ll mention it here, but keep in mind, this is a perfect example of the problems with software on a customized device like this.

What I did to get a few other apps onto the Fire:

  • downloaded app to a separate phone via Android Market
  • used Astro File Explorer’s backup feature to drop the .apk onto the SD card
  • plugged phone into my computer
  • copied the .apk I wanted to the desktop
  • disconnected the phone
  • plugged in the Fire
  • added the .apk to the SD card
  • disconnected the Fire
  • used AndroXplorer file browser on the Fire
  • navigated to SD card
  • tapped .apk
  • installed app (which only worked some of the time, some app installs failed)

No normal person is going to do this.

But like I said, most normal people won’t care. What they get through the Amazon Appstore will be good enough. But it’s still indicative of a different way of using this device. It’s not really an Android tablet – it’s an Amazon content delivery mechanism. If you adopt this viewpoint, you’ll make out all right.


Content

Obviously Amazon has plenty of content for you to browse, buy, download, stream, and consume. In fact, I’ve said in the past that the only way Amazon had a chance with this was due to the fact that the content was in place already, and it will certainly be a success of some measure if only for that alone.

Books: Amazon’s got bunches. If you prefer the e-ink Kindle experience, then you won’t like reading here. I’m used to reading on the iPad and iPhone, so it’s actually nice to have a slightly smaller/larger view (depending on which device you’re talking about) to read text. Marco made some very good points about smaller details, most of which won’t bother me and most people, I would wager, but if you’re very specific about your reading experience, they might.

Magazines: I haven’t had a chance to explore the magazine subscription content yet, but the magazine viewing is a little odd. You either get a full-page view you can barely see, or you get a stuttery zoom that’s not wonderful. However, you can also apply a simpler text view very much like Instapaper that is pretty readable. Of course, you’re giving up the magazine layout at this point, so you might just say forget it and not bother if that’s why you like magazines in the first place (and there’s a good chance that it is).

Music: Tons of mp3s to download, and Amazon’s got the cloud player system in place. Haven’t used it because I’ve got a Subsonic server set up at home and I use that for all my streaming. The Fire audio player itself is a little spartan though, and not having external volume keys is fairly annoying, and could become more so over time.

Videos: As a Prime member, I’ve got a lot of content I can view for free, both TV and movies, but it’s still not a mind-blowing selection. You can forget about using Netflix on the Fire; it’s a hot mess. Constant stuttering, dropped frames, audio out of sync, the works. Even the Amazon video did some crackling and stuttering in certain parts of my house where I have no problem with other streaming devices (and I have FiOS, so bandwidth is not the issue either). I’m going to continue experimenting with video stuff and see what I find. There’s an app that I found which appears to be like Air Video for iOS, which is a longtime favorite of mine, and would allow my Mac mini to stream video around the house over wi-fi.

But you can side-load content: Sure, you can, but there’s not a ton of room. You have about 6 GB actually available to you on the device, and that’ll get eaten up fast. I’m wondering if I can hack it to add more storage, but that’s not a normal person thought, that’s a nerd thought. And my gut tells me no. I tried to load some comics I had in PDF form and they weren’t detected by the Fire in any capacity (even as “Docs”) so I installed Adobe Reader to view them. I loaded some books as epubs and dropped them into the “Books” directory of the SD card to find that they were completely ignored, unsurprisingly, by the Fire. In fact, I could only find one epub reader on the Kindle Fire store at all, and it’s a complete piece of crap. Even the TouchPad could read my epubs, including the ones I downloaded through iBooks. So there’s that. On second thought, I think that was only the epubs I may have downloaded and placed into iBooks. Apologies for misstating that.

The bottom line is that you better like streaming everything (with the exception of books) because you’re going to be doing a lot of it. And you better like Amazon’s content, because a lot of other things just won’t quite fit in as nicely as you’d hope.


Summary

As a nerd, the Fire is a waste of time for the most part. You’re limited by the choices Amazon’s made in the hardware and software, and getting stuff done around those choices is possible, but probably not worth your time unless you really feel like poking around. People have been hinting at how great a CyanogenMod build would be for the Fire, so you may want to go that route eventually, but then again, why not just buy another Android tablet if that’s what you want it for? Surely if you’re willing to hack to that end, you can save yourself some time with other hardware. But I guess there’s the challenge too.

As a normal person, the Fire is pretty good. Seriously. The software update (which auto-installed minutes after I unboxed the Fire) made a big difference in responsiveness. Prior to that, half my button presses didn’t even register and scrolling was pretty lame. If you’re comfy with Amazon’s selections, and you don’t mind a few weird moments (like always tapping the screen to do everything), you probably won’t mind it too much. There’s plenty to do and it’s laid out clearly for you. If you use the device in the manner Amazon has envisioned, you’ll be fine. It’s when you stray outside of that use case that you face some resistance. My guess is that most Fire owners won’t make that choice.

Regarding the sales numbers: well, a lot of people probably got them as holiday gifts, and haven’t really begun using them yet. And Amazon’s always been a little reticent about sharing that stuff. Who cares anyway? Actual, regular people don’t care about this stuff. They only care about what they’re doing with the device.

I know I didn’t cover everything, I probably couldn’t if I wanted to. But as I said, Marco’s review is worth reading – it’s much more specific on a technical level about the things I touched on. I just think that most people won’t care about a lot of them, because they’ll either see it as a Kindle that does a few extra things, or as an ancillary device along with their iPad – which is exactly how I choose to view it. It’ll never replace an iPad, and Amazon is bat shit crazy to even suggest such a thing. I thought they’d have approached the device a little differently among consumers, but that page shows clearly what the intent of the marketing is.

Takeaways?

  • It feels well-made and decent in your hands, but a little heavy
  • If you use it how it’s meant to be used and don’t bolt on your own expectations about what the device should be able to do, it’ll probably be fine
  • If you watch a lot of video, I wouldn’t recommend it unless there’s a software fix to make it better overall
  • If you currently like to read on your non e-ink devices and want something that’s more of a dedicated reader with a few other things, you might like it
  • If you’re a serious app hound, you’ll probably be disappointed as the app selection (at least the ones easily available and compatible) seems limited
  • If you focus on the little things, it’ll drive you crazy, but you can probably get over them and still enjoy it for the most part
  • It’s a decent secondary device, but you wouldn’t want to do “work” on it, the way we’ve gotten used to doing some things with the iPad
  • It is $199, after all
  • It’s not an iPad and never will be

The last one is the sticker.

I do still like it, though, and plan to keep it. I’m reading more, and I like the size a lot. I also plan to get the next iPad when it arrives and have an entirely different plan for how I think I’d like to use it (it involves taking my laptop fewer places for starters). If I change my feelings significantly or something happens in the future to the Fire, I’ll possibly revisit this post and write an update. If you were on the fence about it, I hope this at least sheds a little light on the decision for you. Consider me your guinea pig.

Giving in, with three Gs

I’ve had an iPad since launch day, when I wasn’t sure if I was going to buy one or not. That five minutes in Best Buy was more than enough to convince me that I wanted this new shiny wonder, but not quite enough to convince me to wait and order a 3G model a month later. I really expected wi-fi to be enough. But my couch gave way to slightly more remote locations. Like offices with bad wireless network connections. Like moving vehicles, stuck in traffic for hours. Like airports, taxis, and any other place where your phone is pretty good, but a little extra space would really be spectacular.

So I made the decision to trade up for the 3G model. Scaled back to the 32gb, since I have never even come close to filling the 64gb I got with the first model. Sucked it up, filled out the on-device wireless agreement and parted with another $25 to AT&T.

Now we have three iPads in the office, and I have a truly mobile computing experience. The first time I sat in my car and loaded the app store, I knew it was the right decision. Do I like spending more money? No, most people don’t. But I do like having the ability to do all the things I can do with my phone, bigger, prettier, and with many more words-per-minute. Nerd lust, satiated.

The iPad’s promise for potential.

I tried. I really did. I told myself I wasn’t going to get one on day one. But then I found myself in a Best Buy, touching, filling my face with new glowing hotness, and asking “so, do you have any?”

“Oh yeah. We got a lot, actually.”

“Oh. Cool. Can I get one?”

That’s all it took. No pre-order, no line waiting, nothing. In and out in five minutes. Aimee even encouraged me:

“Well, whether you buy it now, or in two weeks doesn’t make a difference. Why torture yourself?”

A good woman, she is, that one.

Throughout the holiday weekend, I’ve had the chance to play with the iPad, not as much as I’d have liked, due to the requisite familial obligations one experiences at such times. I played the role of early adopter, as my relatives fawned over the lovely screen and Jetsons-like functionality. I convinced at least a few people to probably seriously consider it, and I solidified Justin’s resolve for the wait for his pre-ordered 3G model.

But really, how is it?

Well, it’s definitely something special. Gorgeous, svelte, futuristic. Enjoyable to use, with a host of new apps that make fun things even more fun. I can see myself doing a lot with it, traveling, showing off pictures of our new house, spending even more time on Twitter than I already do.

It won’t, however, replace my MacBook Pro. At least not yet, and not for a really long time. But that’s ok. It doesn’t need to. Steve put it right in between the iPhone and the MacBook in his presentation, and that’s exactly where it belongs. Furthermore, so many – SO many – people are decrying its very presence in the market, foretelling of the death of freedom, exploration, and open platforms. Cory Doctorow, I’m looking in your direction.

But this horrible, Orwellian outcome is not what I see happening, and others agree. Joel Johnson made a great counter-point to Cory, all of which I completely agree with. See, I’m not all about the iPad right now. It’s a cool new gadget, but what I’m about is potential. What it can do, not what it does do.

As a kid, all I did was think about the future. Robots, computers, flying cars, the whole thing. As an adult, well, I’m still waiting. A lot of what we were promised has yet to appear. Rather than wallow in my disappointment, however, I’m prepared to embrace what we do have. And what we have is one of the most inventive, creative, fascinating computer interfaces the world has ever seen. What we have is the potential to redefine how the world interacts with and utilizes technology, and how that technology shapes our lives. When I think about how the iPhone changed my own perception about just what a mobile device was capable of (and that was after spending years dissecting almost every other platform in the market), I get very excited.

I get excited because for the first time in my life, I feel like we are witnessing an event – a place in time that in years to come, we’ll be able to point at and definitively say “that’s when it changed”. Not because I’m an Apple fanboy, but because I am at my core still a child, filled with wonder, and filled with the hope that the future will be as good as I’d always pictured. I often feel like my life would be simpler in another time; that I should have lived in another era. I was convinced for years. But I started to realize that I would have been exactly the same kind of person even then – a DaVinci, drawing and dreaming fantastic things; a Disney, visualizing and creating entirely different worlds in which to play and live. Which is not to say that I fancy myself as important as these types of people – I’m still just a speck of dust on the windowsill of innovation – but that no matter which time I would have found myself in, I would always be dreaming of the next step, and when it would arrive.

It’s a different kind of thought process. Inability to maintain the status quo, constantly shifting, changing, looking for more. It’s why I need to rearrange furniture peridocally, why I organize information differently when I find a more effective method through which to access it, why I can’t just be satisfied with what I have. It’s not because I’m delirious, or that I like spending money. Ok, I do. But it’s because I want to be a part of the next step, as soon as it arrives. I’ve waited long enough.

My childhood was spent trying to grasp at the possibilities of the future. Now we can put one of them right in our hands, today. How can anyone hate potential? What kind of person looks at something beautifully designed and crafted and immediately hates it? Someone I’d rather not spend the future with, I guess.

I don’t think the iPad is the answer to the world’s prayers. But it is damned cool, and I’m more than happy to use it and enjoy it in whatever role it ends up playing in my life. And I’m really glad that at least one company is willing to take risks to shape the emerging face of technology, and do something different. You might not agree with everything they do, but the minds at Apple sure know how to manufacture a specific feeling. For me, this time it’s the feeling that things will not be the same from now on.

The iPad is born, and logic dies a little more.

On Wednesday morning, Apple revealed to the world a device so rumored, so rife with brazen speculation for the past decade, that nothing could ever live up to the fever dreams of the geek world that descended upon it like a pack of ravenous animals. The iPad took the stage, and the world was forever changed, whether you like it or not. Let me begin by saying that I’m not an Apple fanboy – I’m a fan of innovation, and devices that change the face of our world, and our lives. I think this device can be both, despite the naysayers and cynics, content to deride it based on nothing more than a spec sheet, a presentation, and the opinions of others.

Let’s get over the name right off the bat. For God’s sake, there’s a million other “Pads” that we never had a problem with before, ThinkPad being the most obvious. Not to mention the fact that when it was introduced, the Wii was completely skewered because of its chosen moniker. Now it’s the biggest-selling console in the world, and everyone shut the hell up about it relatively quickly. Get the period jokes out of your system now, because they’re not really that funny in the first place, and you’re going to be eating your words when you eventually buy one. And we both know you will eventually buy one.

People are crying over the locked-down environment and the death of “free computing”. Well, let’s be honest: first, aside from people who are willing and able to learn about computing and spend the time and money to stay on top of things, the rest of the world isn’t interested. They just want their email, and their pictures, and their Facebook, and that’s enough for them. And if you’ve ever had to do support for a barely-tech-literate relative, you likely thanked the gods of free time when you saw that thing unveiled. Most people don’t use computers the way we do, and they don’t care if they can only run certain apps in a walled garden. They like it that way. Not having to worry about exploits and issues because of a sealed computing environment is what the world actually wants, despite the market’s best efforts thus far to persuade them to the contrary.

Second, the idea of “free computing” is terrific in principle, terrible in practice. Since people don’t bother to learn, the ability to manage their own systems becomes a liability that for which we all pay the price. Spam, viruses, zombie botnets – they’re all largely connected to a massive group of people who don’t pay attention to what happens on their computer, or don’t even know how to. So protecting processes and users without them having to think about it is not necessarily a bad thing for anyone, save software zealots who believe everything they own needs to be under their full control. It’s simply not reality, and that’s a fact. If you don’t like the way Apple manages their devices, there’s a ton of other options for you. Quit your bitching. They’re not obligated to do what a small, vociferous group of computer patriots wants. They’re in the business of making money, and making software accessible to everyday people without command-line experience. Period.

Apple simply said “this is where we see things going”. You don’t have to agree! That’s what is so wonderful about living in a world with choices! Don’t like that UI or platform philosophy? Don’t buy an iPad. This is a consumer electronics manufacturer, not an oppressive government regime. To equate their choices in product development as such is insane.

There will always be a place for full-on computing. Apple is not saying you can’t have that. Hollywood is not going to edit days of HD footage on an iPad. Professional designers are not uninstalling CS4 as we speak in unfettered anticipation of a brave new world with the iPad. Professionals need professional tools. They will always have them, in whatever form they take. To become senselessly reactive and defensive to a non-existent threat is beyond irrational.

I’ve also heard arguments that it turns everyone into passive consumers of media as opposed to creators. Guess what? Most people like being passive consumers. The droves of people who walk into a store and buy a computer because they think they need one are not the people who are changing the face of media and driving the industry forward. In fact, the greater number of people who use computers are those who read, watch, and listen, not write, film, and compose. It’s just numbers, I’m not trying to be judgmental. However, those who want to create will do so, and a platform shift will not change that.

I want to create, hence I will find ways to use that device to change the way I do it – to enhance my ability to do it – and to get my creativity out into the medium in which I choose to deliver it. So the argument that we’re losing something when nothing was there in the first place is invalid. Furthermore, given the amazing amount of creativity that was spawned on the iPhone platform, I would not even be surprised to see the same kind of new tools on the iPad. It’s a foregone conclusion as far as I’m concerned. Creativity will take a new shape, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

To the industry pundits, analysts and self-proclaimed “experts”: savagely criticizing the iPad before you’ve even had a chance to touch it is just asinine. I’m pretty sure not all of you were there on Wednesday. Yet most of the comments from those actually coming out of the event conveyed the same thought: seeing isn’t believing, until you’ve had your hands on it. I wouldn’t even begin to argue emphatically that a certain car was a piece of crap without ever getting behind the wheel myself and driving – yet that’s exactly what most tech writers are doing in their write-ups. It’s bad journalism, and even worse overall decision-making as a human being. We teach small children better than that (“How do you know you hate that food? You haven’t even tried it!”); certainly you can make the same leaps in logic. You can theorize that it won’t do as well as others might think, but to look at it and call it a giant iPod Touch is oversimplification to the point of hyperbole. Clearly, it’s not, and Apple simply wouldn’t release a product that was. You can think what you want about Apple; it’s not the mid-90s anymore – they’re just not that dumb.

I know how the Internet can be, and I know it’s always the same cycle. I just don’t understand when it became more productive to blindly tear things down for no better reason than pageviews than to at least entertain the notion of what might be. There’s no way anyone – even Apple themselves – can see the future. This platform could become something so much more than what we saw in that presentation. In fact, it’s almost a certainty that it will. I was a serious critic of the original iPhone, and it wasn’t until the development possibilities opened up through the App Store that I began to see potential where I scoffed before.

The iPad presents a unique shift for computing, and the fact of the matter is that any movement is good. We’re using essentially the same kinds of boxes now that we did 30 years ago, just with fancier guts. Isn’t it time to just try something new?