YESTERDAY WE WERE TREATED to the spectacle of Apple CEO Steve Jobs attempting to peddle a slow touchscreen netbook without a keyboard for nearly twice the price of anything similar on the market.
It reminded me of my grandfather, a crook who set up a used car business in Durban auctioning dodgy cars to Boers who were not used to that sort of thing. He was so good at it that he once won a bet that he could sell a car without a motor for more than he would get for a car with one in it. The story goes that he did it by emphasising how the motor that shipped in the car limited your options.
When Steve Jobs stood up yesterday with the "Ipad" he clearly was having a laugh.
You can just imagine the board meeting where the idea came up.
Steve: "I am really pissed off with humanity at the moment. I am charging them way over the odds for junk they can pick up for half the price and they think I am a god. I'll bet you I can sell them something totally useless. What is something no one can sell?"
Board member: "A tablet? No one has been able to shift one of those, not even us, and you might recall we tried it about 15 years ago and it flopped."
Steve: "Yeah, but I bet I can shift a tablet now. What about we make this really hard? We will flog it with the processing power and battery life of a netbook so it is next to useless."
Board member: "Don't cheat and make it into an Iphone."
Steve (enjoying himself): "Nah. I tell you what, I will even be able to sell it with an Iphone operating system rather than OS X. And I will call it an 'iPad' which is what users will need after having their eyes gouged out by our expert marketing." (Board collapses laughing) "It will cost about $100 to make, so I will sell it for $600 to $800. But - and this is the best bit - I will tell them a few days before that it will cost $1,000, so then they will think they are getting a good deal." (Pauses) "Nah, even I can't get away with this."
But apparently he did. The Ipad is a netbook without the usable keyboard. It is an Iphone without the phone. It is a games machine that can't do graphics well. It is an e-book reader without the e-ink to make the print easy to see. In short, it is the veritable chocolate teapot of hardware.
Its competition really is the Amazon Kindle, which despite using e-ink is also overpriced and extremely limited.
Initially the response from Apple's fans was the usual "Jobs is a genius" nonsense. However this morning more rational heads are saying "What the...?" and "Wait a minute. Is he just trying to flog us a car without a motor?" µ