Dvorak angered by iPad’s popularity, abandons reality

John Dvorak published a stunning rant at PC Mag that attacks Apple’s marketing department, professionals over 30, people under 30, the practice of gift-giving, greedy children, capitalism and George Costanza, all in 547 attention-seeking words. Typically I don’t reinforce inappropriate behavior. Providing a link to such bait is like making a delicious sandwich for the guy who just robbed your house. But Dvorak, and this post, is special.

Dvorak’s first claim is that Apple’s marketing department is responsible for flattering iPad stories in the press:

“According to every report in every corner of the world, everyone wants the same thing for Christmas: a tablet computer, preferably an Apple iPad. Of course, the Apple marketing department had nothing to do with any of these ‘surveys.’ Hah.”

If the iPad is receiving positive press, that’s partly because Apple’s PR team is DOING ITS JOB. They’re supposed to generate positive buzz about Apple’s products. On the other hand, suggesting (in complete absence of supporting evidence, mind you) that Apple is manufacturing false “surveys” about the iPad’s appeal is, in a word, absurd.

Also, Dvorak says “every” a lot. “Every report” conducted in “every corner of the world” finds that “everyone” wants an iPad for Christmas. Unless you’ve personally read every report conducted in every corner of the world and spoken with every person IN THE WORLD about their electronic Christmas wish, you’re just blowing smoke out of your iAss. I realize that he’s using exaggeration for the sake of humor, but I just find it distracting. It’s like when someone says, “You should have seen that fire! There were, like, a million firemen there!”

No, there weren’t.

John’s second claim is that kids don’t want iPads for Christmas. I’m sure there are plenty who don’t, and many who do. The problem is with John’s definition of “kid.” He begins with a scenario many of us are familiar with: the mall Santa:

“I’m sure every department store Santa Claus has heard an earful of requests for an iPad.

‘What would you like for Christmas, little girl?’

‘I want an iPad for Christmas.’

‘So do I, you greedy, little kid!!'”

I’m fine with failing to give a $500 computer to “a little kid” as a Christmas gift. My own children are 7 and 5. They’d both love to own an iPad, but it’s not going to happen. They’re children, and as such an iPad is a wholly inappropriate gift. But I’m not prepared to call them “greedy.” My 5-year-old, while smart as a whip, has no concept of money. To him, money is created and distributed by ATMs, and freely available to everyone. All he knows about the iPad is that one can play Plants Vs. Zombies with it, and that’s all he needs.

However, John extends his definition of “kids” far beyond the Hannah Montana generation:

“Whatever the case, I can’t imagine anyone under the age of 30 wanting an iPad. A PS3, Wii, GameBoy, or even a useful laptop maybe, but an iPad? Furthermore, I do not recall ever seeing anyone under 30 actually using an iPad. It seems to be an old person’s computer.”

There are big differences between a 4-year-old and a 29-year-old (for example, the pee accidents), yet John lumps them together. I have not conducted a formal study, but I imagine there are plenty of twenty-somethings who’d choose an iPad over a GameBoy.

Regarding thirty-somethings using iPads. Consider, John, that many people in their 30’s have more discretionary income then their younger peers. The truth is, the iPad isn’t necessary. You can do everything the iPad does, and more, with a laptop. As laptops fit most users’ personal and professional needs more fully than an iPad, that’s what they buy when an “either/or” choice is necessary. A 22-year-old fresh out of college might covet an iPad, but his/her financials allow for one computer purchase. In that instance, a laptop is the obvious choice. By contrast, many 30-year-olds have put a significant dent in those student loans and have an additional ten years in the work force. Those people can afford a 500 dollar supplement to their primary machine.

Next, John exhibits a healthy disdain for self-important attention whores:

“A slew of business types and computer freaks wander around with them in leather cases that cost as much as the machine. It has become some sort of prestige thing. ‘Oh, look at me, I’m carrying an iPad. I have useful business to attend to and it might be needed. Look! Look!'”

Yes, nothing is more off-putting than conceit. Arrogant jerks make my skin crawl, and it’s comforting to know that John feels that, too. Unfortunately, he’s displacing his rage on all iPad owners (what did we say about generalities, John?). There are probably plenty of Olympic-class asses with iPads in their “leather cases.” [1. This is my favorite part. Two paragraphs after bemoaning the “leather cases” that “cost as much as the machine,” John notes that “nobody carries the iPad in a briefcase or bag.” Awesome.] But not all of them.

Finally, John attacks the act of gift-giving among adults:

“…when did Christmas gift giving begin targeting adults? It’s a kids’ holiday. Isn’t it? I think it began in the 1960’s, but TV marketers took it to new levels…now an iPad has become a serious gift idea. Years ago, a mouse pad would have been a good gift suggestion. What changed?”

Easy, John. You’re slipping into Andy Rooney mode. I give gifts to my adult friends and relatives because, well, I love them and want them to be happy. Christmas has “gone commercial,” but one needn’t dwell on that aspect. It’s puzzling and you can puzzle about it until your puzzler is sore. Then you might think of something you hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, John, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. [2. Apologies to Dr. Seuss.]