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Ok fine, the iPad is better than this.
Ok fine, the iPad is better than this.

Photo credit: Phil Campbell

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Just when you thought the Apple Cosa Nostra couldn’t have its fingers in more pies (or i’s) the iPad arrived to fill the void in your life that you didn’t know you had. Marketed with Apple’s customary élan, the iPad seems set to achieve world domination despite the very obvious question which no one seems to be asking: how are men going to carry it around? Are we going to finally see widespread uptake for the man bag?

Doug and Stan have got themselves a pair of iPads. Strictly speaking, they ought to be blogging about it, but it’s my turn to write a post so I’m hijacking their topic. So far it seems they love their new toys, and although they’ll deny it, Apple’s branding must have a lot to do with it.* The appeal of the coquettish lower-case i is so irresistible the designers must be hugging themselves (whilst carting another wheelbarrow-ful of cash to the bank).

Like the iPhone, the iPad can do just about everything except bump off your mother-in-law: music, films, video, unrivalled on-the-go internet access –it’s a veritable smorgasbord of entertainment and future models will undoubtedly exhibit hundreds of other handy features. All this can leave you feeling like the Apple progeny are taking over the world. They are, of course, but don’t let that worry you.

It’s worrying the people at Adobe though. Unless you live under a stone you’ll know that the iPad doesn’t do Flash. AdMob has also joined the ranks of companies who have incurred Apple’s imperial displeasure. Sure, Apple should be allowed to do what it likes with its own stuff – but only up to a point. Econsultancy’s Meghan Keane pointed out that Apple’s move to force developers to use iAd is anti-competitive and could land Apple in trouble with the regulators.

I’d argue that Apple’s general behaviour is becoming increasingly anti-competitive; it’s not just confined to AdMob. What’s frustrating is that Apple doesn’t need to behave this way. It’s already got the edge in terms of innovation, usability, and design. Sure, it’s still a little pricey but that actually only helps its brand image. It doesn’t need to act like the bully in the playground – acting that way just makes it look a bit… paranoid, frankly. Paranoia and bullying are signs of weakness. Maybe it’s no coincidence that Jobs has been quite seriously ill: that would be enough to make anyone fearful about losing their edge.

Apple’s behaviour doesn’t fit with its brand image: laid back, cool, sleek, and user-friendly. If it’s not careful it’ll destroy that: people are already disappointed about the lack of Flash. Of course Flash has its flaws, and it’s good to try and innovate to make poorer alternatives vanish into oblivion, but there’s a difference between offering new things and marketing them, and imposing your will on the market. It’s a difference Apple seems to have lost sight of.

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*I shouldn’t be smug because it works on me too.

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