Photo by Lloyd Alter
Over 300,000 iPads sold on the first day the device hits the market. Lines in front of Apple stores were of course ridiculously long, like this one at the Westside store in New York City, which looped back and forth in front of the store three times. Everyone is talking about how the device is the next big thing in digital reading, essentially blending netbooks and e-readers, and will utterly change the market. Yet, we have to ask - what does this mad rush for the latest device from Apple say about our progress towards sustainability? As Fast Company puts it, "First-generation Apple products are for suckers. Only lemmings with no self-control and excessive disposable income buy first generation Apple products, especially in a new gadget category." We have to say, there's a bit of truth to that statement...and more to say.
While it's true that early adopters are the ones that help guide us towards better devices by creating the initial market the devices need to test their sea legs, it's also the case that with new devices, we tend to go head over heals at the beginning, just to discard them well before their useful life is up for the next model. Unfortunately, there are even quite a few eco-minded people who update their iPhone on an annual basis.
It's planned obsolescence on the part of manufacturers and a combined lack of patience and overabundance of shopaholism on the part of consumers that lead us to mountains of e-waste. And that is a huge problem, especially with Apple planning to sell as many as 7 million first generation iPads during 2010 alone.
The iPad still has a few generations to go before it becomes an honestly useful device that replaces the smart phones, netbooks and laptops that we currently enjoy. Stick with Last Year's Model mentality when it comes to the iPad, and wait for a good reason to buy the iPad - which is that you actually need it because your current devices simply no longer run.
We agree with Fast Company:
If you've already got a smartphone and a laptop, the gap in your workflow that the iPad might fill isn't obvious, and discerning consumers only absorb gadgets that fulfill a need. Plenty of geeks across the Internet have described how the iPad is an expensive, closed platform with too many missing features. I'm opting for simple common sense: new gadget acquisitions come with hidden costs. Only buy devices whose benefits you know outweigh those costs.
Additionally, the green apps we're excited about are only just starting to roll out. Earth2Tech has listed their 5 favorites, and like our list of 100+ green iPhone apps, we have no doubt it'll be a few short months before we have a long list of similar programs for the iPad to help direct your hunt.
It's one thing to be a savvy consumer of electronics, and another to be a gadget gottahavist. Save money, save energy, save on e-waste, and hang out with your current devices while the iPad improves.
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More on Apple's iPad
iPad Version of Wall Street Journal Priced at $17.99 A Month - Too Expensive, or Right on Target?
e-Reader Chart Compares iPad, Kindle, Nook and More, Makes Shopping A Little Easier
Green Features We Love in Apple's New iPad