The iPad Is Not A Lifeboat

Three things come together to prompt this post, two of which are economic:

California budget crisis: it’s worse than you think
A perfect storm for unemployment in June

The looting and wreckage of the worldwide economy is something I first started tracking in 2008 (and I was late to it!).

The bottom line — pardon the expression — is this: there’s no more money, period.

I don’t give a damn what the Fed and Treasury have been doing or what Mister Obama says. It’s all over. Those turkeys have created the term pretend and extend. It’s all like putting a tooth (a failed asset) under the pillow and really believing a Tooth Fairy exists and will swap it out for cold hard cash.

The machinations that are going on behind the scenes would make your hair stand on end. Right now, the Fed and Treasury and IMF are conspiring to pass the hyperinflation buck onto all of Europe, using the the immediate worse condition of the “PIIGS” (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain) as sleight of hand to disguise our own situation. We’re also using our Weapons of Monetary Destruction — such as the H-bomb of Goldman Sachs — to manipulate every single market to our temporary advantage. It’s all a sick shell game to keep things as they are. Or, rather, to subjugate everyone else to our advantage.

Meanwhile, as the two opening links explain, real people are losing their jobs, their homes, and their hope.

Now put yourself in their situation. You can see the street looming. Yet we live in an age where Internet access is absolutely vital. It’s needed to keep up on news, for mail, for researching and applying to jobs. Try finding a fax number in most Internet jobs listings — they don’t exist. Resumes are wanted via email because there are specialized algorithms that are run on them to ascertain which are worthy of someone’s time in Human Resources.

Knowing all that, and knowing you will need an on-the-go computer that will be as reliable and trouble-free as possible, wouldn’t you be most likely to buy an iPad if you’re not a technical person?

I think so.

And I think that’s part of what’s driving iPad sales. It’s not just the appeal of the iPad itself. It’s the lifeboat appeal of it too.

If you haven’t had to rely on a public library for Internet access, consider yourself lucky. It’s a mad scramble for time on a machine. You often have to make an appointment first thing in the morning to get a 20-30 minute slot before closing time. And remember, you’re not a techie, so you’ve got to also learn how that particular library — or branch of a system — has its machines set up. For example, if you don’t already have your resume socked away online somewhere, good luck trying to upload it directly from a public machine!

Aside from all that, library budgets are being devastated nationwide. Here in New York City, the NYPL is facing the largest cuts in its history at a time when library use — as it always is during a bad economy — is at an all-time high. Libraries here could be cut back to just three days a week. Could you afford to hunt for work online just three days a week? Could you even guarantee that you would get a library computer appointment every one of those three days? What if the library has to ration use and you can get only one day a week?

Having an iPad would alleviate most of that stress because of its WiFi and even 3G connectivity.

But an iPad is not a computer in and of itself.

This is where the not being a lifeboat part comes in.

Why the iPad Can’t Function as a Computer Replacement

There’s nothing in that post that’s news or wrong. In fact, people openly wondered the same thing about the woman who wanted to pay cash for an iPad. People wondered if she knew she needed a computer to use it.

If you’ve been looking at an iPad as a possible lifeboat, you’d better understand its limitations. It will likely require the use of a full computer at some point. Whether it’s to update the OS or even to restore data after a possible catastrophic crash (which, while slim, can happen).

The iPad is more of a flotation device than a lifeboat.

It has better battery life than any netbook, its touch interface is designed for sleek efficiency, and it’s not prone to the malware of a Windows-based netbook. In all those respects, it’s superior to other solutions out there.

It’s just not — yet? — the ultimate solution.


12 responses to “The iPad Is Not A Lifeboat

  1. Paul Johnson

    There is no ultimate solution, and the thesis of this article is ridiculous. The iPad is a great way to consume media and do a little bit of work, and that’s why people are buying it.

  2. Problem: “…you’ve got to also learn how that particular library — or branch of a system — has its machines set up.”

    Solutions: on a thumbdrive.

  3. >>>the thesis of this article is ridiculous.

    Oh really? Which part, the people being unemployed?

  4. No. That is not guaranteed to work.

  5. Well, thank goodness there is a nicely lit, wifi enabled Apple store just around the corner for that credit-card-less lady to update her iPad on. :-)

    Perhaps she can regularly back everything up to DVD/thumbdrive on one of the store Macs…

    Apple Stores – the new Library?


  6. Paul Johnson

    No, I will go with the “people think the iPad is a lifeboat” part for $500, Mike.

  7. You can have your iPad activated at any Apple store. From there you can use it without a computer. You can access the App store, etc, from the iPad. You can back it up, etc., on a relative or friend’s computer.
    If you have no relatives or friends, you have bigger problems than no base computer for backups.

  8. Let’s think this through.

    You’re worried about losing your job. So instead of simply continuing to use the same computer you’ve been using for years, you run out and drop $500-900 on a new device that you can use instead of our existing computer?

    Or, if your computer is truly so ancient as to be useless (and it would have to be pretty old to be less powerful than an iPad), you could buy a full-blown computer instead.

    I love my iPad and am convinced that they’re going to sell like crazy – but your logic doesn’t make any sense at all. People who buy iPads are generally using them IN ADDITION to their other computers or using them for very limited functionality (email and viewing photos, for example). They’re not running out to buy them because they lost their job.

  9. No, you have missed the key point: having a portable to use while *homeless*. And if you don’t think that’s happening, check out the people using up public library Internet time — if your libraries are still open.

  10. >>>If you have no relatives or friends, you have bigger problems than no base computer for backups.

    Yes, and that’s the point of the post too. Have you ever read any blogs that cover the homeless or are done by the homeless? When someone reaches that state, they tend not to be helped by family or friends for long.

  11. >>>Perhaps she can regularly back everything up to DVD/thumbdrive on one of the store Macs…

    Why don’t you do a test and see what happens when you try? People using the machines are watched like hawks from cameras overhead. I once tried something with a CD (read-only) and within minutes a Flying Squad shut down the entire table I was on. I appreciated that. It showed they didn’t want to point me out as an offender violating the rules I didn’t know. I never tried that again.

  12. Paul Johnson

    So from one vivid example you spin an entire social theory about iPad sales? Why not buy a cheaper netbook that has WiFi and a cellular data plan if your theory is true?