Why Apple won't be able to sell an iPad to this Mactard

This "Mactard" loves his Apple gadgets but just can't justify spending $500 on an iPad.

Regular readers know that I'm a pretty big fan of Apple products. At my house, there are Macbooks and iPods, a Time Capsule and even AppleTV. No, I don't have an iPhone - but that's because I'm no fan of AT&T's service.

And, you won't be finding an iPad at my pad when it hits the stores, either.

Don't get me wrong. I like Apple's products. I like how Apple's user interfaces reflect an understanding of what the consumer really wants. I think the customer service in the stores is top-notch. And I appreciate the innovation that the company brings to the table when it introduces new products.

But I have say that this iPad - a $500 iPod Touch on a bigger screen - just isn't doing it for me. It's not because I don't like it - I actually think it's a very nice device. No, I just don't see it creating enough value for me to buy.

Hold on. Before you go reading too much into that, let me elaborate.

I don't mean to imply that the device isn't worth the starting price of $499. In fact, that's the thing I kept coming back to as I tried to convince myself that this was something that I'd be willing to buy. If the price has been $999, then the decision would have been easy. That price point makes it harder to say no.

But $500 is $500 and I just didn't see the iPad doing anything beyond what I can already do with my Macbook or iPod Touch. Maybe if there was some sort of killer app for the iPad, something the truly made this device something more than an oversized iPhone. But there really wasn't. Not even the e-reader thing was enough to take it to the next level - for me. It just never seemed to set itself apart in a way that allowed it to scream, "I represent an entirely new category."

Normally, I'm the first one to jump on the Apple bandwagon but, not this time. I was ready to jump on board with what I initially predicted what I thought the iPad might be - a family entertainment device, something that could be shared among the members of the family to become the household jukebox, movie player, magazine rack or photo album. Yes, I realize that's essentially what it is - and I could have been wowed enough to think of it as a new living room product - but then Jobs started checking e-mail and Marketing VP Phil Schiller started working on spreadsheets and presentations and I was suddenly reminded that this wasn't some sort of cool device focused on multimedia entertainment. This was still a computer, a mobile computer.

And that's when I realized I already owned a couple of those, the productivity laptop I'm typing on and the handheld iPod Touch that was waiting in my backpack for the walk back to the office.

As strange as it sounds, I'm not ready to give up the two products in place of one new one. Those two products are used in different scenarios to do different things under different circumstances. Yes, I can listen to music or watch a video on my laptop, just as I can also check e-mail or my calendar from my iPod Touch, or an iPhone. But in the way I use them, one seems better for some tasks than the other.

Yes, I realize that $499 is a breakthrough price and that people will line up to get one at this bargain price point. But, I honestly can't justify to myself - or my family budget - spending that kind of money on something that doesn't really bring anything special to the table

I sure do hope this doesn't mean my membership to the Apple fanboy club will be revoked.

Complete ZDNet coverage: Apple Tablet: It's an iPad


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