No, I haven’t ordered one myself; they’ll take some months to appear hereabouts, and will be expensive. Maybe at WWDC I’ll buy one, though I may not be able to attend this year.

Of course most of the reviewers already have theirs, and the divide between the geek and non-geek users is being endlessly rehashed. David Pogue at the NYT went so far as to do a double review. One predictable vote for the geek side came from Cory Doctorow:

Why I won’t buy an iPad (and think you shouldn’t, either)

…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”…

…As an adult, I want to be able to choose whose stuff I buy and whom I trust to evaluate that stuff. I don’t want my universe of apps constrained to the stuff that the Cupertino Politburo decides to allow for its platform.

Now, Cory is one of my favorite writers, but I think he went a little overboard there. Once you accept that Apple’s model customer indeed is the “technophobic, timid, scatterbrained mother”, all his other arguments become much weaker, since they apply only to old-fashioned tinkerers who are concerned about absolute freedom for their “universe of apps”, or even want to just run Linux on the thing.

Both Joel Johnson and John Gruber agree with me that the iPad is essentially a consumer device, not a device for tinkerers and makers.

Now, I consider myself a serious tinkerer. I learned programming in the days when that meant plugboards and punch cards, and programming books started out with chapters of flip-flop and half-adder schematics. I’ve owned a 1961 VW of which I knew every single wire and screw, learned how to do radio and TV maintenance, designed hardware and OS for special-purpose computers, and so forth.

However, even as a tinkerer, I don’t really want to open up my computer and tinker with it just for the fun of it – or install Linux on it, or whatever – as long as it works like I want it to. Now, I bought my first Mac in 1984, and have owned at least two dozen different models since then; I’ve opened up (and in many cases, expanded or modified) nearly all of them. The exceptions are my current iMac and MacBook Air; they just work fine, and I won’t risk marring the finish. icon_wink.gif If I want to tinker, I’ll get an old junk PC somewhere. But, nowadays, I find writing applications is more satisfying.

But I digress. What I do disagree with is some of this “freedom to tinker” entitlement philosophy. Quoting Cory again:

Having gotten into business with the two industries that most believe that you shouldn’t be able to modify your hardware, load your own software on it, write software for it, override instructions given to it by the mothership (the entertainment industry and the phone companies), Apple has defined its business around these principles.

Exactly; that’s Apple’s privilege, and as an Apple stockholder I agree with their position. Cory (or anyone) should be perfectly free to modify an iPad, write their own software for it and so forth – with one caveat: they can’t force Apple to help them with that, and once they do it, it’s not an Apple device anymore for all practical purposes: no warranty, at the very least, no support, and so forth. I suppose that they want all of that, too; quite unrealistic.

Update: yes, there’s the AppStore. I dislike the current terms, at least from the developer’s side, and they’re one of the factors that keep me from developing for the iPhone/iPad right now. I do think (make that hope) that the terms will – very gradually – become less restrictive. All this “politburo” stuff is, regrettably, fueled by today’s insanely litigious society and Apple’s reaction to avoid liability at all costs.