iPad is Yet Another DRM Crippled Device

You may be one of the lucky few whose sweet spot is tickled by Apple’s new device. Or you may find yourself in the overwhelming majority that find the over-sized iPhone wholly underwhelming. At least gauging from the various social networks, this seems to be the rough distribution of reactions to today’s over hyped event.

I won’t bore you with the litany of technical issues that have elicited a mild “meh” from me about Apple’s latest. The fact that the only means of distributing applications to the iPad discussed is the App Store eclipses any other complaint I might have.

My love affair with my iPod Touch is enough of a dirty shame I have to bear. At least I can rationalize my purchase and use by focusing on the fact that I use it almost exclusively as a media player.

I have vastly different expectations of a tablet, even one as stripped down as the iPad appears to be. How does Apple justify hobbling the device? Wireless carriers have begun offering comparably stripped down computers, netbooks, that are still open to the end user installing whatever they like. I might concede that a single distribution channel makes the experience better. And Apple is clearly more about experience these days than substance.

But why does the experience of some have to preclude the ability to exercise owner override? Would the App Store be any less used if power users could still install their own bundles? If the arguments Apple makes about their captive channel really hold water, why not open the device to both and see if the market agrees? Allowing users to install simple application bundles like on a regular old Mac would be the shortest way to turn around much of the negative PR the approval process for the App Store has generated almost since day one.

Usually I am skeptical of the need to actually protest the premeire of such a DRM-riddled gadget. The fact that this comes so close to a general purpose computer, even a very low powered one, makes even my hackles rise. If the hardware and OS has the potential to do anything, then I expect there should be no limit on how or why I take advantage of that by running the software I want, from the source I want.

4 Replies to “iPad is Yet Another DRM Crippled Device”

  1. Well written cmdln. The Apple lock down bows greatly to the corporate fears of us stealing the media (device DRM definitely stops media theft on device but what about the interwebs?).

    I would SERIOUSLY consider this device as a target for jailbreak. Most of the stuff I want to do is NOT going to be available in the app store (ever). I like paper books, not into kindle type of stuff. My iPod touch is a perfect toy, just like the iPhone is 101% a toy with exchange. I want to use the iPad as a GIU for other hardware/software. (I can build my own tablet for the same price. The software + hardware is so much more mature than what I can do)

    To me the iPhone performance is weak. Blackberry still kills them on email, Android shows me that the iPhone OS offers nothing other then GOOD games. The deal with (the devil) ATT is another crusher.

    So, we end up with iTampon (as they are calling it on twitter). Insert your own local translation of that idea…

    But remember, this is THE YEAR OF PARADIGM SHIFTS!!! Here are the first 2:

    1-Apple moves into advertising with the purchase of online advertiser *slips my mind*
    2-Google moves into hardware manufacturing (Nexus Uno).

    Apple is permanently moving into a room with no windows called “User Experience”. With these recent decisions I feel they are sealing the door behind them.

    Drop DRM, open the platform, stop being lame.

  2. I’m definitely in the meh camp. Tablets have been around for ages. Their niche is dedicated applications like inventory collection. If they were so wonderful to carry around, geeks at least would be carrying them around. We don’t because they aren’t. If I’m going to tote something that size, it damn better have a keyboard. To me it’s a Touch that won’t fit in my pocket. Double-meh.

    @Marc: #3 Mini-notebook becomes device of choice (unless you think that one happened last year).

  3. This post’s just grumbling from someone who neither invents nor delivers anything in terms of technical innovation themselves. Yawn – easy to be a critic, so I’ll stop doing it myself.
    OK, bottom line: Apple’s a COMPANY, in a global CAPITALIST world. It makes money. It does what it wants. Stop whinging – you have no say in the matter. If it doesn’t sell, then tough luck Apple.

    1. My right to free speech isn’t predicated on inventiveness. I am well aware of the limits of my free speech. I also feel an obligation to go along with that right, to express it in the pursuit of saying something interesting. I believe my blog and podcast speak for themselves.
      I am not speaking to Apple, either. I will exercise my right to spend my money with a competitor who offers a product that I find more suitable.
      This post is part of my own synthesis of the tension that Zittrain lays out so well between open and closed systems. It was for my readership who may not have considered the iPad as part of that continuum, not necessarily drive-by commenters who don’t have anything substantiative to say, critical or otherwise.

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