I’ve long been a fan of Apple’s products, yet even whilst the rumours grew about an ‘Apple Tablet’, and certainly since its announcement in January, I’ve never found myself as excited by the iPad as others have.

Maybe I should. As an admirer of Jonathan Ive’s work, this device – simply a 9.7 inch screen framed by a thick black bezel – is surely the apotheosis of a life’s work. Often inspired by Dieter Rams, this is yet another product that aims to satisfy Ram’s ten design tenets.

Yet I can’t ignore the inescapable feeling: I don’t need – or want – this product.

Often sat with an iPhone in my pocket or a Mac on my desktop, when I am in a situation where I need a device that sits between these two extremes I use my laptop. It’s already clear that I own more technology than I require, and perhaps that explains why I don’t wish to add a fourth. Even so, I can’t imagine replacing any of my existing devices with an iPad either.

I suspect the same is true for many of the two million people who have invested hundreds of pounds for the ‘distinction’ of being one of the first to own one. This, a prize inevitably egged on by a publishing industry which sees the iPad as its only path to salvation, and perhaps by developers too, who having seen the price of their iPhone applications driven down on the App Store, see this as a means to regain their profit margins.

The Wrong Users?

I find it hard to believe those who have purchased the iPad so far are those who will truly benefit. From what may be a blinkered view, it appears the vast majority of people who have brought the iPad are early adopters – and yes, what counter iPad argument can exist without the word ‘fanboy’ thrown in – the complete opposite audience for which this product is intended. Geared more to content consumption than creation as my colleague Jeremy suggests, this is a device more suited to my mother than me.

This is not to say I’m not fascinated by user experience on the iPad. It’s interesting how just a change in scale requires an entirely different approach, especially when it’s essentially the same technology as that used in the iPhone.

Indeed, in the limited exposure I’ve had with the product, it would seem many developers have yet to discover it’s full potential, with most magazines transforming the iPad into nothing more than a glorified PDF reader. A number of apps – including those designed by Apple – require the use of multi-touch gestures that aren’t immediately obvious until somebody demonstrates them. I’m excited by those early apps that are willing to investigate what’s possible, yet how much interactivity can compensate for the iPad’s low resolution, weight and material inflexibility compared to paper?

Whilst I may be excited by such possibilities, I don’t feel the need to spend more than £429 for the privilege of owning one. Whilst I’m sure those who have brought one will have valid reasons for their purchase, I find it hard not to see it as anything but greed in the face of over consumption. How many iPads will be left on tables, unused and unloved in a years time? If so, how could that money have been better spent? Gregory Wood has 13 possibilities already.

Money Better Spent

With that in mind, I’ve decided to put my money where my mouth is, and donate £429 to projects guaranteed to enrich more lives than 9.7 inches of touchscreen glass could ever hope to improve my own.

By splitting the price of a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad between the three charities I support, I’ve been able to fund:

For WWF

  • The training of one villager, in Borneo, to become a Wildlife Warden
  • Ten days salary for a Rhino Protection Unit ranger
  • 72 seedlings to help replant the forests of Tanzania

For Action for Children

  • An inexperienced parent to join an Action for Children parenting course
  • An educational toy for a family centre toy library
  • A hot nourishing lunch for 10 neglected children
  • Payment towards a fun day out for a neglected child

For World Vision

  • 20 mosquito nets
  • A fruit tree
  • A chicken

(Estimates taken from WWF’s donation page, Action for Children’s donation page and the Must Have Gifts I purchased from World Vision).

When you see how such an amount of money can be spent on rather more important things than a luxury technology device, you might understand why I get so frustrated by the continual tweeting about your iPad.