It’s all Steve Jobs‘ fault.
Yes, I have succumbed. Yesterday, at the Boulder Apple Store, I lost all common sense and self-control and bought an iPad. The new one. The gorgeous shiny, pretty thing I’ve wanted since the first one came out of the mind of Jobs, the design gurus at Apple, and, sadly, the factories of China. And, what’s worse, I’m not even sorry.
Not only is the gadget thrilling, the experience of shopping at an Apple store is amazing. Walk in and no matter how busy they are (and they are always busy), within a minute an employee will have approached you and within another minute, the person who will guide you through the purchase has arrived. You never stand in line, the wonderful widgets are brought to you and, with small hand-held devices, the employees “ring up” your purchase right then and there. After which, if you like, they set up the gadget for you and answer all your questions. And the “wow” factor remains. Even the packaging is magnificent: sturdy, attractive, of a quality designed to underscore the quality of what is packaged. (Yes, packaging is evil. If the actual trivial way in which we chop up the planet just for ephemeral things isn’t bad enough, the layers of plastic and cardboard in which we surround them will be.) But Apple’s packaging becomes part of the experience of buying.
So, I discovered that the merest touch and gesture would, more easily and elegantly than on my iPhone, move me from screen to screen, app to app. I found out how brilliant all images are (unfortunately, this also included my own face, which lately I have enjoyed seeing, shall we say, as if through a bit more mist). I stayed up late (nonsense, early for me) reading a novel on the delicious sharp screen. Earlier, I synchronized my new toy with all my other Apple toys (iPhone and iPod). I surfed apps, and I turned it on and off so often that I actually had to recharge it on its first night. And I’m still enamored. Although the guilt level is higher today.
You see, I don’t really need it. No, let’s state it more forcefully. I do not need an iPad. I have an iPhone I still do not really know how to use to its fullest capacity, I have two computers, one a Mac, one a Dell and, as I said above, an iPod. Obviously, I have long since drunk the Kool-Aid. But if there’s anything Steve Jobs knew how to do, it was to create desire for those shiny, pretty things–desire that immediately becomes need. Of course, unlike so many other shiny, pretty things, once a person has an Apple gadget, the delight has a tendency to stick around. Unlike the toys of my childhood, which barely kept my interest past New Year’s Day after being so wanted, so desperately wanted, prior to Christmas, my iPod, my iPhone, and, I’m sure, my iPad (MY! iPAD!) will be used and happily so for a long time to come (at least, they will if I can figure out all their options and mechanisms).
The term “shiny, pretty things” is not mine. It comes from the antic and gadfly mind of Mark Morford, a truly sane voice howling in our current cultural wilderness. He was pointing out in his weekly column for the San Francisco Chronicle that our monkey-desire for these shiny, pretty things is gnawing our planet bare. And it is. And I’m guilty. But as he also pointed out in the same column, all of us want ours before the chance is gone. After all, they only had to make one more iPad so I could have one. Only one more. Sort of how I feel about Colorado–glad I moved back here and NOW they can close the gates and throw away the key.
All of which does have a tendency to take a little of the shine off my new toy. But I’m still glad I got it. Thanks, Mr. Jobs.
Although, upon thought, I really should have gotten the white one.