Frankly speaking, I don’t really understand the passion for the new Apple iPad (an "iPhone on steroids"?). It’s a beautiful-looking machine but it also jails its user in the "Apple ecosystem". It’s just consumerism.
Apple has a record of launching beautiful-looking devices and shiny products. In the beginning of the years 1980s, they popularized the computer mouse and the graphical user interfaces as we know them today. In the beginning, one would love the simplicity of use of Apple computers and software, especially compared to the MS-Windows or GNU/Linux versions at that time (I’m speaking of the years 1990s). The end-user was then at the center of the "computer experience". But now, it seems the end-user becomes a (paying) consumer, nothing else.
Since a few years, Apple developed its own, closed ecosystem and is now cleverly taking advantage of the miniaturization of electronic devices to sell content via this ecosystem. Indeed, Apple first developed the iTunes Store that was initially only a music store but later offered other multimedia content and applications (most of them for a fee). Legally selling music via the internet was disruptive at that time when most music available on the internet was only personal copies from some individuals. With the miniaturization of electronic devices, phones became "personal digital assistant" with the ability to play music, play games, run office application, take photos and videos, surf the web, exchange e-mails and instant messages, etc. Computers also became miniaturized, giving birth to netbooks.
The great thing about these small devices is that they are usually forced to save data in common formats in order for their clients to be able to use these photos (jpeg), videos (3gp) and music (mp3) on other devices than their phone or netbook. However, nearly all manufacturers also created their own "Store", websites selling multimedia content and applications (not only music anymore) specifically created for a platform but also specifically locked to a platform. One may argue that Apple iTunes Store is easier to use and provides more content than any other platform (which is probably true) but nevertheless, Apple is locking its customers to its platform.
The advent of the iPhone and now the iPad further locks its users to use Apple Store thus to use Apple-approved content, Apple-approved music, Apple-approved applications, Apple-approved books, etc. Of course, there is a way to open some of your own documents previously saved in a more usual format. But there is no way to share the content you bought from a Store with your child, spouse, parents and friends. Apple owns the content you bought, you are just leasing it from Apple for your own personal use.
So, technically, the iPad may be a nice looking device but it’s also an iPrison for your data and what you can/can’t do. I agree computers and electronic devices needs to be user-friendly and shouldn’t annoy users with technical details. But I also would like that the same computers and electronic devices give the freedom to modify, share content, look at details if that’s the user wants.
Finally, I like this citation from Laurian Gridinoc, before Apple annoucement:
HAL-9000: What is going to happen?
Dave: Something wonderful.
HAL-9000: I’m afraid.
Dave: Don’t be. We’ll be together
Don’t be afraid, indeed: Apple will know what you want, dictate what you’ll like but won’t disable any life support systems as it needs your money!