Saturday, April 03, 2010


It is definitely different this time.

No screaming throngs crammed into Moscone Center, shrieking when the TurtleNecked One steps on to the stage, and starts recreating life, as we know it, with the latest-and-greatest Apple product, all but throwing themselves at his feet, or rushing the stage with their first-born cradled in arms.

Apple has stores now, so they can spread around the Apple Worship, generating buzz with Mister-and-Misses-HaveEveryMacProduct bundled up in well-worn sleeping bags, days in advance, sure to become the local news crews' geek-of-the-week interview.

No, rather than sprinkle the new iPad around to all the acolyte tech bloggers, to gin-up that Cupertino-approved ground buzz, Apple only handed out a few, and detoured from the little guys to go gangbusters mainstream, in living color, on prime time television;

John Biggs, over on CrunchGear;

Something struck me about Apple’s handling of the iPad launch this week. Instead of countless nerds spouting off in early reviews, only a few major tech press folks got early samples. Instead, the iPad showed up in a show the missus and I watch, Modern Family.*

That’s right: instead of an overfed talking-head tech reporter pawing over the iPad on morning TV, the iPad got prime-time coverage in a sitcom. Think about the last computer company to get that kind of screen time. Only Microsoft, in their abysmal product placement in Family Guy comes to mind. But in Modern Family the iPad was a major plot point. While I’m sure Apple paid a pretty penny for the exposure, I don’t doubt the folks at ABC would have put the product in for free had Apple asked.

Well, John, it may be that is was a gigantic big, fat freebie wet kiss

Modern Family' Featured an IPad, but ABC Didn't Collect ...Why Apple Didn't Have to Pay for Play -- Again
NEW YORK ( -- Apple may not have paid for its new and much-ballyhooed iPad device to be woven into a main storyline in last night's showing of "Modern Family" on ABC, but everyone is acting as if they did.

Apple has been telling other media outlets it paid nothing for "Family's" bumbling Phil Dunphy character to spend the better part of the program yearning for a new Apple iPad (due out this Saturday) and even stroking the machine wistfully at show's end. And two people familiar with the situation reiterate that notion, telling us Apple and the studio that produces "Modern Family" -- News Corp's 20th Century Fox -- collaborated on its hard-to-miss cameo. Also worth noting: On Twitter, actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays Mitchell on the show, said "I will say that no 'Product' has been 'Placed' in my itchy little palm. I am excited about the iPad & will probably break down and buy one!"


Apple historically doesn't pay for appearances in programming, moreover, and it may not have to. Its gadgets and computers are viewed as status symbols, even cultural icons, so it's no wonder to see shows that want to make characters seem hip -- witness the perennial appearance of an Apple laptop in HBO's "Sex and the City" -- happily weave its goods into scenes and hands.


Even without Apple plunking down any cash, last night's episode was tantamount to a huge wet kiss of approval for a product that has yet to be tested by actual consumer use. And it comes after "Modern Family" has helped burnish the Toyota name, allowing its characters to drive cars from the automaker, which has suffered after some of its cars were said to accelerate unexpectedly.

The hallowed buzz Job's is seeking is coming in, a bit muted, a little fuzzy.

The new product has thrown the Tech Heads a curve ball.

iPad isn't a computer, as much as it is an enlarged iPhone, minus the calling features, a technological piece of catnip, designed to have all the little MacKitties rub up against it, and then pull out their wallets at Apple's Citizen Kane-level domination ambitions, the AppStore.

I doubt we'll hear of injuries, or death, of someone's iPad suddenly accelerating, however, and especially for 'Modern Family' fans, we can't vouch for the safety of someone jumping into their Toyota's, to rush off to the nearest Apple Store.

It's really sounding like, more-or-less, an iToy.

Joshua Brustein, in the NYT Bits column today;
Much of this excitement comes from people who would never give a second thought to the restrictions Apple put on those developing software for the device. As both David Pogue and David Carr pointed out, the iPad is really a tool to consume media, not create content.


To have an iPad, we have to double-up, first, being "consumers", taking that first step of saying "I want to buy an iPad", and then, once we have it, we have to "consume" media.

Which, if you've followed us, will be ready, and amply-stocked, at the AppStore.

Brustein was responding to Cory Doctorow, over on Boing Boing (where his colleague there, Xeni Jardin, loves it), who is putting on the iBrakes;

Why I won't buy an iPad (and think you shouldn't, either)
Incumbents made bad revolutionaries

Relying on incumbents to produce your revolutions is not a good strategy. They're apt to take all the stuff that makes their products great and try to use technology to charge you extra for it, or prohibit it altogether.


But with the iPad, it seems like Apple's model customer is that same stupid stereotype of a technophobic, timid, scatterbrained mother as appears in a billion renditions of "that's too complicated for my mom" (listen to the pundits extol the virtues of the iPad and time how long it takes for them to explain that here, finally, is something that isn't too complicated for their poor old mothers).

The model of interaction with the iPad is to be a "consumer," what William Gibson memorably described as "something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It's covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth... no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote."

The way you improve your iPad isn't to figure out how it works and making it better. The way you improve the iPad is to buy iApps. Buying an iPad for your kids isn't a means of jump-starting the realization that the world is yours to take apart and reassemble; it's a way of telling your offspring that even changing the batteries is something you have to leave to the professionals.

Read all of Doctrow's post
, as he goes on to slap the MSM upside the head, calling their fawning over Apple "Journalism is looking for a daddy figure," as he lays out more reasons to avoid the iPad.

Apple has the status-thing down pat, so we will soon be seeing breathless stories of the iPad "flying off the shelves", which may, or may not be followed, in the months ahead, of complaining, that all the iPad can do is "consume media", or the caterwauling of all the different apps one will have to purchase, to have that "iPad" experience.

It is in the end, a gadget, and there will be other gadgets to follow, to compete with the iPad. minus, of course, the glitter of Apple Status, that will drive down cost, and populate the landscape with all kinds of "media consumers".

All well-and-good, until Apple puts out iPad.02.

That is, of course, if Job's didn't misread the "consuming media" thing, and doesn't suddenly turn into Adam Osborne.

Bonus Riffs

Emily Holleman: A roundup of the early iPad reviews ...Apple's new tablet won't be released until Saturday, but the early notices are favorable -- with a few gripes

Danny O'Brien's Oblomovka: cd-roms and ipads

Juli Weiner: iPad Backlash: The Time is Nigh

Ravi Somaiya: iPad Backlash: The iPad is Not Your Savior

More iToy/iPad at Techmeme

Bonus Bonus Riffs

Apple Settles With Cisco!; Rolling Dice With New iBeckham Phone ...Jobs Promises Aging Soccer Star Can Store "Billions of Photos" of Himself; New "Posh" Command Added

New iPod Phone Requires Downloading Calls

Apple Takes Blog Ruling As New Club On Criticism and Dissent

1 comment:

Byron said...

iPad meets Philip Glass (Koyaanisqatsi)

What if the iPad actually changed the world? I'm all for it trying.

Click the button and the world is your oyster.

Unfortunately it's made in flash so you won't be able to view it on your iPad.