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photo illustration by Mico Mazza

Taking a bite out of Apple’s tech reputation

LET’S BE HONEST: The iPad has convincingly dominated the tablet computer market since its launch one year ago. Apple currently accounts for 69 per cent of all tablet sales in the U.S., which is evidence enough that the iPad has elevated Apple, and Steve Jobs, to a whole new level of success.

The iPad has become a symbol of cultural accomplishment, but is buying one really a wise decision? In a market of so many tablets, including the Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry PlayBook and the newly released Amazon Kindle Fire, is the iPad truly the cream of the crop?

I personally have a BlackBerry PlayBook. In fact, this article was written on it, and I can tell you, I have tried the iPad but nothing compares to the usability of the PlayBook. I can do everything on it. I take notes in class, write essays, check my email, listen to music, surf the Internet, go on Facebook, and so much more. The PlayBook also allows me to sync to my BlackBerry phone and use my BlackBerry data plan from my tablet.

Despite its functionality and reasonable price, the Blackberry Playbook has not caught on as well as RIM would have liked. The PlayBook has grossly underperformed, and continues to struggle to live up to its one-million sales estimate.

So what does the iPad have that’s made it so popular? What does it have that other tablets don’t?

One of the problems other tablets have competing against the iPad is that Apple has become such an advertising giant that it is hard for some companies to keep up. But aside from some apps and a handful of extra ad money, there isn’t much the iPad offers that other tablets don’t.

When you bring price into the mix, it seems idiotic that anyone would invest in the Apple tablet. The PlayBook can be bought for as little as $299, and the Kindle Fire is set to go on sale for just $199. Meanwhile, the iPad is still being sold for $699 for its lowest model. That’s a lot of money, and on a student’s budget it is hard to argue for buying it when there are so many cheaper and possibly better tablets.

Still, we continue to buy the iPad and all of Apple’s products instead of supporting other companies. It’s not for the hardware, as BlackBerry’s OS and Google’s Android have shown to be much better for businesses and students. And it’s most definitely not the price.

So why do we do it? I think it’s because of the name. Apple draws us in with its sleek design and tells us in its commercials that coolness can be achieved by buying their products.

If we want to be cool, we should buy Apple products—even if they don’t work the way we want them to, right? Wrong. It’s time to opt out of the cool factor and into buying the products we really need. Sometimes the less cool option is the better option.

—Andrew Ikeman