Mac Corner: A rant or two or maybe a little more about the iPad  

By Larry Grinnell, Palm Beach Phoenix Apple Users Group

larry grinnellSo, the iPad’s been out for a few weeks. The blogosphere is sagging under the weight of all the commentary, pro and con. One interesting thing has been observed, and it’s probably not a mystery to Apple observers: IT professionals hate it, while mainstream users love it.

Why are the IT pros such iPad haters? First, Apple makes it, and IT pros see Apple equipment as a threat to their well-being, because Apple computers require substantially less support.

At my previous place of employment, once upon a time it was a 100 percent Mac shop. It was a big company, a big facility, and had lots and lots of Macs — thousands, I think. The Help Desk was staffed by two people who had a lot of time on their hands. Then came the corporate edict that all the Macs had to go (while the company was hemorrhaging money) and all those lovely Macs were replaced with dull, boring, buggy, and ill-performing Dells running Windows NT (this was quite a few years ago). When the installation was complete and all the contract IT folks went away, the help desk jumped from two people to over 20. Now that’s what I call job security (at least until the IT functions were outsourced a few years later, but that’s another story for another time).

In the corporate world, headcount (number of staff) is power. If your IT organization is just a few people, your power is limited. If you have a large staff, you can start to exert major influence over the operation of your company, and do some empire building. I remember one IT manager telling me that no matter whose budget paid for equipment, if it plugged into “his network,” it belonged to him. But I digress …  

The IT professionals who blogged about how the iPad was so horrible dwelled on the fact that it didn’t have a camera, that the virtual keyboard was inadequate, it can’t view websites that use Adobe’s Flash technology, that there aren’t enough applications available, and blah, blah, blah. Mostly, however, is the clear evidence that the IT professionals are losing credibility with consumers who are buying what they want to buy, no matter what the IT pro’s exhortations may be to the contrary. My good friend Bill Palmer wrote an excellent comment to a recent blog on the website that brought the declining influence on the geek community into focus for me, and I hope you take a few moments to read it.

Admittedly, there are some things that the blogosphere did get right, and that’s Apple’s obsession with control over every aspect of their products and their software developers. The latest boneheaded stunt by Apple relates to their ongoing quarrels with Adobe Systems.

Adobe has built a development environment for the iPad/iPhone that permits developers to port Flash applications into something the iPad/iPhone can understand. Well, Apple announced last week (I think) that the only software that will be approved for posting on their App Store must be developed with Apple tools only. Frankly, it sounds a little anticompetitive to me, but I’m not an attorney, nor do I play one on television. 

As I stated in a previous column, Apple’s public stance is that Flash technology is bloated, susceptible to virus infections, unstable, etc. Adobe strenuously objects, but hey, for the moment, it’s Apple’s ball and Apple’s bat and they are calling all the shots. Apple firmly believes the emerging HTML5 standards are superior to anything available from Adobe (read that proprietary and out of their control), compared to an open standard that they (Apple) helped write, hence at least indirect control.

About the rest of it, I plan to vote with my checkbook sometime soon. As stated before, this will be a great living room computer, and with access to my media server, I can watch movies wirelessly in any room in my house, if I can’t be near the big screen in the living room or the only slightly smaller one in the master bedroom. Now, if only Hulu could go with HTML5 so I could view their content … oh, yeah, I will be able to, as Hulu’s plan is to make their content available to iPads — on a subscription basis! Doh!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Readers are welcome to comment on this or any Mac Corner columns by visiting the Palm Beach Phoenix blog as well as by writing the editor of Palm Beach

Mac Corner runs every Wednesday only in Palm Beach Click to read the previous column.

About Larry Grinnell: Larry has been working with Macintosh and Windows PCs for over 25 years and worked as a senior technical writer and IT support professional for a major midwest-based consumer electronics and telecommunications equipment manufacturer here in South Florida. His musings on a wide variety of topics from computers to jazz guitar to strange foreign cars from the 1950s can be viewed at the website. Click here to reach him by email.

palm beach phoenix logoWriters of this column are members of the Palm Beach Phoenix Apple User Group, a nonprofit organization for Apple Computing Device Users, recognized by Apple Inc., with the purpose of providing educational training and coaching to its members (students, professionals and seniors alike) in a cordial social environment. The club meets the second Saturday (1-4 p.m.) and fourth Wednesday (6-8 p.m.) of each month at the Fire Station #2, 4301 Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach (just two block south of Southern Boulevard). Click here to visit their website. Click here to reach them by email.

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