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iPad Greed

April 3rd, 2010

TIME Magazine is offering their periodical on the iPad for the low, low price of just $4.99 an issue! What a deal!

I am, of course, being ironic. Often sold at newsstands for $2.95 (though the cover price is $4.95), Time is selling first-year print subscriptions for $20 (not counting the free issues up front). In contrast, the iPad version will cost roughly $260 for the same one year. They’re not even trying to lure people in with a first-year, first-month, or even first-issue discount.

I’m guessing that they don’t think much of the discriminating skills of their readership. Seeing the prices many app makers are charging, I get even more an impression of opening-day greed similar to what we saw on the iPhone; many seem to think that just because the iPad is a hit, people will spend gobs of money on stuff they can get cheaper or free elsewhere. It’s pretty astonishing, when you think about it–charging 13 times more for the iPad edition than for a mailed subscription? Wow. Even with added content and nice moving doodads, that’s still astonishing. Two years of Time on the iPad would cost more than the iPad itself. People who are buying the iPad may be willing to spend more than they would on a netbook, but it is still pretty solidly in the discount category of computing devices–iPad owners will not be paying premium prices for much.

By the time I get my iPad here in Japan, I expect prices will already be dropping on a lot of stuff.

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  1. Troy
    April 3rd, 2010 at 18:48 | #1

    LOL. $5 a magazine was what I was paying before the internet in Japan.

    Looks like UPS held the plane in Loiusville so that my iPad could be loaded; usually the Oakland plane takes off before 4:00AM, today it took off at 5:13AM. . .

    Pretty amazing that a device can be designed ~5 miles up the road, manufactured by Chinese elves and drop-shipped back en masse. There’s gotta be $25M worth of iPads on that plane.

    I *do* wonder if the iPad will be a hit or a miss this year. The main thing it’s got going for it is the full attention of every app developer on the planet.

  2. Troy
    April 4th, 2010 at 05:39 | #2

    Heh This is coming from an iPad.

    The best form factor for typing is vertical — やっぱり、the thumb-board could use some modernization.

    As expected, the device is pretty heavy. The density is good, just like a mbp.

    Text pixellation isn’t bad but not exactly over-sharp.

    My app runs at 30fps on the device so I’m happy.

    It’s like a glass and aluminum chunk from the Star Trek future.

  3. Troy
    April 4th, 2010 at 11:56 | #3

    Heh, the UPS guy said he had 50 more deliveries.

  4. stevetv
    April 6th, 2010 at 09:23 | #4

    It seems like a frivolous item to me. No USB port, no flash and no multitasking means its not worth the current asking price.

    When it comes to getting the general tech community to make content for their devices, Apple is an extraordinary force in the market. But is there another PC corporation as closed off as Apple? Unlike the rest of the PC universe, Apple is the only one who can create devices to run apps developed for Apple devices. And peripherals that are specifically made to work with Apple stuff need a special connection that isn’t going to work on any other devices. Plus, the manufacturer is obliged to pay a licensing fee.

    I’d wait for the HP Slate instead and hope it’s more customizable. Or I’ll just stick with a netbook. Some of them have pretty awesome battery life as well.

  5. Luis
    April 6th, 2010 at 10:03 | #5


    Depends on what your needs and desires are. There is no USB port, but there is a USB connector is you want to download images from a camera (don’t know if it can be used for anything else, I assume that either 3rd-party apps or jailbreak features would address that). Question is, what would you use the USB port for? Probably most anything you would use it for can be done wirelessly–printing, file transfer, keyboard–all can be used via WiFi or BlueTooth. So what’s the big disadvantage, what are you prevented from doing because of no USB? Remember, this is a “mobile” device, not a PC; mobile devices are meant to be cable-free.

    No Flash: you no doubt have heard all the arguments. Me, I actively block Flash on my computer, and won’t miss it on the iPad. But many people can’t live without the games or videos that are not ported to another technology. If you’re one of them, then the iPad is not for you–though if Adobe gets its act together and gets rid of all the security flaws and power drains that make Flash undesirable, it still could come with an upgrade.

    No multitasking: don’t look now, but OS4 will be shown in 3 days, and most believe multitasking will come with it; it’s just a few months and an upgrade away.

    One thing you have to remember is that the iPad is an actual tablet, not a PC with the keyboard shaved off. That’s what all previous tablets tried to be, and they failed because of it. If you are waiting for a tablet which is bristling with ports and weighed down and thickened with added PC components like hard drives and other stuff, then you’re waiting for something which is not really a mobile device one could call a true tablet. People have derided the iPad as a “giant iPod Touch,” but that’s only because they expect a tablet to be a netbook without the keyboard.

    There will also be a trade-off if you use a different tablet. Apple may have restricted external memory usage, especially physical add-ons via cables, but there are two major advantages it has going for it: design and development. Design includes the hardware and the OS; the hardware is very well designed for what it is intended to be, just like the iPhone is. This includes touch sensitivity (see how the iPhone’s touch screen is superior to everything else out there), ergonomics, and especially balance–the right balance between weight, thickness, features, battery life, etc. Attention to detail here can be crucial. Then there is the OS; Android is the only one that comes close, but I don’t know too much about their tablet OS. Windows 7? Maybe, but I doubt it.

    Then there is the development: 170,000 apps, already 3000+ apps designed specifically for the iPad. It is doubtful that any other platform will get the sheer number, depth, and breadth of apps that the iPad is capable of using. Remember, for years people argued that the Mac was inferior because there weren’t as many software titles for it; now the tables have been turned, and with a vengeance. Not to mention that Apple’s OS development proceeds along at full speed and you know that development will not falter for quite a long time to come.

    So there are trade-offs, but the shortcomings you list as the main issues seem like non-issues to me. USB is supplanted by wireless, Flash is an inefficient, dying technology, and multitasking will likely come to the iPad soon. This is not to say that it is the device for you–you may really be married to features that are more netbook-related, and so a netbook may be the better device for you.

  6. Paul
    April 6th, 2010 at 15:47 | #6

    That pricing reminds me of a problem I had with Consumer Reports several years back.

    I was a subscriber and happy to see that they implemented a fairly good online version of the magazine with searchable archives, lots of back issues, etc.

    BUT… if you were a subscriber to the magazine, you still had to pay full price for the online version- which was priced at the same level as the print version.

    Obviously the online version should be cheaper than the print for the simple fact that once you’ve digitized the content, it’s cheaper per copy to distribute than the print version. By a long, long way.

    But okay, they don’t want to cheapen their product… except that Consumer Reports is supposed to be a nonprofit, cooperative kind of deal. Consumers Union is a nonprofit that has the mission of testing and informing consumers on nearly anything they can buy.

    The magazine accepts zero advertising and the vast majority of their funds received go towards their testing and advocacy work.

    SO… I emailed them, pointing out that as a subscriber to the magazine I was already actively supporting their work and that I thought it would make sense to get at least a significant discount, if not free, access to the online site.

    Nope, no chance.

    These guys all look at new media wrong. Instead of saying “man, we could sell for a lower price and sell XXX times more than we currently do and distribution is much cheaper!” they keep thinking that their content is worth more than it really is.

    Steve Jobs convincing them that the iPad is a miracle machine isn’t helping the situation, either.

  7. stevetv
    April 7th, 2010 at 05:44 | #7


    I think we’re taking the same point and branching off in different directions. It’s very true that the Ipad isn’t meant to be a netbook or PC. And that’s my beef. For something that large and pricy, I expect more than – yes, I’ll say it – an Ipod Touch on steroids. I agree that the interface is very good and the screen is outstanding, but those are matters of aesthetics. I’m concerned with more functional matters.

    From what I can ascertain, you use Apple products exclusively, or at least mostly. That may be why you ask “What would you use the USB port for? What is the disadvantage?” USB is not some fossil from the days of the dinosaur. It’s a common standard. If I need to connect my work GPS to my home computer, I can do that. If I’m at work, and I need to charge my cell to the office computer, no problem. When my girlfriend visits her family and she needs to connect her cell to their TV? Done. If I’m visiting my next door neighbor and I need to connect my camera to their laptop, it’s very doable. Why? Because we all share the same universal cable. The Ipad has a proprietary cable, and that’s it. When the opportunity arises that you must connect it to something that’s not officially licensed by Apple, you have to have a dongle on hand. And what if you need to connect a mouse or a keyboard to the Ipod? You can’t just take one from a nearby computer. It’s no great expense to add a port, but doing so would hurt the sales of other Apple products users would have to otherwise include. That’s probably why they don’t include ports.

    To an extent, I agree with you about Flash. It’s clumsy and technologically outdated (although I utilized a version of it on my phone in 2007, and although I didn’t love it, it wasn’t so horrible), and it may very well be dying. But you wouldn’t know it considering 75% of online video uses it. Flash videos are embedded in news websites, blogs, etc. Like USB ports, it’s another universal. By the time Flash is finally replaced with something else, the Ipad in its current form will also be rendered obsolete. Buying a hot new gadget today with the expectation that it will conform to technology that won’t exist until several years down the line doesn’t make much sense to me.

    It’s not necessary to make the case for multitasking, other than to say it’s importance can’t be overstressed. Personally, I’m not one who needs a camera on a tablet, but there are lots of people who insist on it. There are lots of good things about the IPad, but I think the weaknesses outweight the strengths.

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