Five Reasons to Wait on the iPad

Like most geeks, I watched with great anticipation as the iPad was unveiled yesterday. In my case, it was from liveblogs monitored on spotty 3G and WiFi access at the Jfokus after-conference event. I'm reasonably impressed with the device, especially the $500 price point on the low end. But after giving it some thought, I have a few good reasons to wait on purchasing one. Here's five I came up with:
  1. Wait for the next generation. Never, ever buy the first generation of a device this new and this complex. Doubly so for anything the Apple hype machine is pimping. First-gen devices are always at least a little bit tweaky, and Apple has proven repeatedly that their first-gen devices are overpriced, underpowered, and replaced by something better in 4-6 months.
  2. Wait for competitors to answer. Sure, there have been other tablets and "slates" announced over the past year, but the iPad has moved the bar. Given the number of competing vendors, the availability of viable tablet options like Windows 7 and Android (or Chrome OS), and the ever-present iControl and iLock-in associated with all things Apple, you can bet there's going to be a bunch of competitive options during 2010.
  3. Wait for everyone else to buy it. Yeah, this one is painful, but think about all the suckers that bought the iPhone right when it came out. You'll spend a couple months as a temporary luddite, ridiculed by your peers. And then you'll get a better device for cheaper and have the last laugh. I mean, isn't half the joy of the iPad in having the bigger iPenis? You can hold off for a while.
  4. Wait for crackers to bust it wide open. Nobody's happy that the iPhone is a closed platform, nor are they happy that the App Store is so sketchy at approving applications. So why not wait and see what the busy iPhone hackers can do with an iPad before diving it? Chances are it will be a far better laptop replacement once they get ahold of it.
  5. Wait because you don't actually need it. It can't replace your phone. It can't replace your laptop. It can't replace your 50" LCD TV. Seriously now...what do you need it for?
Me, I'm on the fence. I can afford it, but then I probably wouldn't be able to afford something else. And I'm a programmer...I want to be able to put my own apps on the device (or give apps to friends) without dealing with the App Store gatekeeper. In my ideal world, it would be Apple's hardware and design sensibility combined with Android's open platform and familiar runtime. Anything even close to that would outshine the iPad for me.

Update: One last bit of anecdotal evidence. Before the iPhone, I had held off buying anything other than the crappiest, cheapest phones, the lowest-end music devices (yep, I had the "pack of gum" Shuffle), the most basic digital cameras, and no PDA. I was waiting for something that would allow me to get rid of all devices at once. iPhone obviously did that, as a music/media player, internet device, PDA, phone, and camera all in one. iPad takes two of those features away (phone and camera) and only adds a larger screen with the potential for large-form apps.
Written on January 28, 2010