Why I Disagree with Tim Challies


safari_20100127.jpegMy friend Tim Challies has written a very negative post about Apple's new iPad. In fact he's calling it "the greatest disappointment in human history." Tim, where has your discernment gone? Go read your own book!

Admittedly, I am a mindless Apple fan so what I say here doesn't have much merit. But I'm putting my money on Apple and betting that the iPad will be another success. I remember people freaking out because the first iMac didn't have a floppy drive and only used USB ports. The naysayers had similar complaints about the iPod's battery life and the limitations of iTunes. Now, 250 million iPods later, I guess we could say the naysayers were wrong.

Now my brother Tim is upset that the iPad doesn't have a camera and more input options. But that's the genius of Apple. They know what to leave out. Before we even know ourselves, they figure out what we'll actually use and how we'll use it. Sure, the iPad will get better. We'll look back on this first version like we do the clunky first-edition iPod. But I think this will be a game changer for how people interact with media and the internet. Seeing my kids interact with the iPhone has convinced me of that. We want a computer we can touch.

My prediction: look for a blog post by Challies in the next year sharing how he bought an iPad just to review it, really mostly for his kids, and how it's not so bad as he initially thought. He'll gripe about several features just to save face, but will also be driven by integrity to mention that he uses his iPad constantly and his Kindle is in the dustbin. Of course I could be wrong. And if I am I'll do a blog post with the title "Challies Was Right About the iPad." But don't hold your breath!

Update: A web designer named Mike Rundle makes the case much better than I did in a post entitled "The iPad is For Everyone But Us." I agree with him. Power users like Tim Challies aren't the target audience for the iPad. (via @RevTubbs)



Long time reader. First time commenter. (Sorry but had to say that ridiculous line).

Tim gave away his Kindle for a commentary set. Read it here http://bit.ly/SFL8X

I think Tim isn't going to chance his opinion on this version of the iPad.

I once worshiped at the alter all things MAC. I may eventually get a iPad but it didn't live up to the hype.


but don´t bite the hand that designed this blog.

As I have an iMac, MBP, and iPhone, I could only justify this device personally as an e-reader. And I would be much more likely to invest thousands of dollars in an open book format that hopefully would not go away for a long time. But not this version. The first thing I noticed was no webcam. We all know that it's coming, and probably within 14 months. Everything else about it I generally like (and I think I would use it regularly if someone gave it to me).

Found a sore spot, did I Josh? :)

Now obviously my post deliberately over-stated the case against the iPad. I know there will be some legitimate uses for it and I won't be half surprised if I end up finding that it fits into my life quite nicely (though I won't get one for my kids--you can be sure of that).

Don't tell me you seriously believe that the iPad will always be without a camera. You and I both know that they'll add it eventually. Which, of course, begs the question of why they don't add it now.

Anyway, the proof will be in the pudding. We'll see. But for now I'm (mostly) sticking to my guns.

PS - Did you comment "Go read your own book!" indicate that my book was the greatest disappointment in human history? That's how I chose to read your words. ;-)

As an Apple consultant in DC, I agree with Josh and think Tim needs to manage his expectations a little. Apple isn't a functional savior :-) Take the product as it is intended to be used.

I think Apple is counting on a lot of developers make the iPad much more useful just like the iPhone. I think this product is also a step towards a full OS that is touch sensitive (10.7?). Screen prices just need to come down. Wait for more OS features to kick in in the next few updates. Apple is more careful than most to release features that really work, for better or for worse.

One of the most ironic aspects is the eBook store on iTunes. Apple is entering a market dominated by Amazon to give the publishers flexible pricing, which is what everyone else tries to do in reverse to compete with the iTunes Store. Apple is saying to book publishers: you should be able to set your prices for books, but to the music publishers: we dominate you. Do what we say or else.

Oh and Andrew, I would be careful disagreeing in public with Apple. They are a vengeful and jealous Apple :-)


Since Apple will be releasing the SDK for the iPad, I could see the iPad being used as a capture device for a myriad of cameras. I mean... I would laugh at you if you held up your iPad to take a picture. It would look way goofy. However, if you were a professional cameraman and had an iPad in your bag with a camera attached to it and whipped out your iPad to edit and view photos, well that would be way cool, and I might just high five you.


I'm with you Tim!

What I appreciate about apple is that they have always seemed to not be producing technology simply for technology's sake, but orienting what they do around using technology to make life simpler. The iPhone for example, was a revolutionary product, not only because all of the new technology it introduced, but because it simplified the we use new and existing technologies. I no longer have to carry around a phone, PDA, camera, GPS, and mp3 player - they are all seamlessly combined into one! The internet was made portable and convenient. Of course you still need a computer for things more hardware intensive. But fortunately your smartphone syncs with your computer in many ways (contacts, calendars, etc).

But the iPad seems to be a betrayal of that overall philosophy. Suddenly, apple seems to think we need to be ADDING devices to our lives, not reducing them. Which is fine if they add a lot of functionality, but lets be honest about the iPad: it doesn't. Sure it serves as a better E-Book reader than an iphone. But it doesn't set itself up as a kindle - it sets itself up as another "everything" device. A device somewhere between a laptop and an ipod touch, another device with which you must sync to everything else, with which you must manage. It doesn't replace the need for a laptop or smartphone, but it seeks to replicate many of their functions. I'm left wondering whether this is more of a less powerful laptop or an iphone that no longer fits in my pocket. Either way, I don't see how it simplifies my life.

No thanks, apple. Unless there's a large niche market out there of rich, mac-loving, ebook-enthusiasts with ADD, I can't see this making much of a splash.

The forbidden fruit company got us hooked on the stuff that they didn't put in the iPad. The iJobs' marketing plan of making the first version lesser than what it could be has worked in the past but I think it's gonna come back and bit him like snake this time. My guess is that this first one is to market the education peeps with and the second will have some (never all) of the bells and whistles we want.

Even with that said, the nations are not glad about the iPad.

"Seeing my kids interact with the iPhone has convinced me" - Yep. Watching my little nephews and niece take to my iPhone like ducks to water has convinced me. Quibbling about features misses the big picture. What we saw yesterday was the equivalent of the unveiling of the first vinyl record player, or the first CD player, or the first portable mp3 player. Sure, it needs a lot of improvement, but it's a new class of device that will (rapidly) change the way we exchange information. Wireless multitouch will dominate computing for the foreseeable future. It's the way the upcoming generation will be reached - with whatever message.

In the words of that great philosopher Barney Fife,
"If you got something to say just say it."

Josh Harris has been my pastor for many years. He is wise and preaches the gospel faithfully. He also has good taste and true discernment when it comes to his taste in tech products. Preach it Josh!!! I think it's going to be a great product.

Did anyone find it interesting that the iPad is coming out around tax return time? Hmmm. I'm a Mac user and I'm thinking if I had an extra $500 I might just buy one... even if I had an iMac, iTouch, AND a MacBook (=

Macs are like candy, I could have cared less back when I was a PC user!


You made me laugh, man. I was DEFINITELY NOT saying your book was a disappointment! I just want your "Apple discernment" to be as sharp as your spiritual discernment. (grin)

Thanks for leaving a comment. Have a good day.


Usability 101 states that you should create based on how people USE SOMETHING, not what they SAY THEY WANT. I'm sure Apple put the iPad through the paces in terms of usability during development, and had very specific reasons for pulling certain features and including others.

I find it very interesting that I have not read a SINGLE negative review from anyone that has actually used the device. Not one. Tim, find one for me! That is eerily similar to how the iPhone rolled out.

I think the iPad will be another big win for Apple similar to the iPhone. Maybe until we use it we won't have it in our head how USEFUL and UNIQUE from an iPhone and Macbook a multi-touch screen that size is.

And who knows about the camera... Maybe they didn't include it because during user testing they found that it was at a bad angle (straight up) or something of that nature that made in impractical. Maybe it's something simple that we didn't think of, like the large bezel on the final product that's obviously so you can hold it comfortably at any angle without your thumb touching the screen.

All I'm saying is, Apple are very easily the undefeated masters of usability when it comes to tech products, and much if this is due to their willingness to cut out supposed "must-haves" that aren't really "must-haves" at all. Virtually every celebrated product they've released has in some way or another significantly snubbed the guys with the long feature checklist, and the products are all the better for it.

"Even more important, a few years down the road, the iPad's power will have increased and its cost will have dropped. At some point, the price should hit a point where many people decide to buy a couple just to have them around the house--a universal "reader" that takes the place of piles of magazines and books. When that happens, the iPad could go ballistic, adding another monster revenue stream to the global powerhouse that is Apple." -Henry Blodget, Yahoo Finance

I'm a junkie but I don't know that i have the money for this niche product. I see where it fits in the lineup although I'm not so sure that it will do all the things better that Steve Jobs claimed it will. I hope so but I doubt it.

This is coming from a iPhone, iMac, and MBP user.

Just remember Josh's sermen where you said: "I own three ipods!" Then you subsequently mentioned each ipod being a successive enhancement of the previous version.

Yes, I do believe computer companies are getting us to buy more and more electionic stuffs by either withholding necessary or enhancing some unnecessary features. I think that's what they (companies) do, and I think we as Christian should be aware of our needs and exercise discernment and financial wisdom of sterwardship.

Being disappointment in apple may not be an issue here, more than knowing what you need - to do anything (including purchasing) - to the glory of God.


Except for the fact that the camera adapter kit from Apple only allows for direct connection to the adapter or insertion of an SD card. The lack of support for CompactFlash, the standard for high quality digital photography, will keep professionals away.

See this article, subsection "USB": http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/01/ten-things-missing-from-the-ipad/

So why wouldn't a professional photographer plug his camera directly into the device for a $30 adapter? I don't think it's accurate to say that the iPad doesn't support compactflash. It does with an adapter. A $30 adapter won't turn away professional photographers in the same way that the MacBook Pro didn't turn away photographers before they had direct CompactFlash.

too funny.

my clunky first-generation iPod, does get some stares for sure, since it is nearly 10,000 times the size of the new ones. but it still works and doesn't freeze up on me ... on a good day. :)

I dunno. The iPad has a lot of potential, but I'm concerned about the totally typing on the pad with your fingers interface. Maybe I'm the only one who likes to eat while using my computer, but I see cleanliness and streaking as strong possibilities.

That's not the only reason I don't like it though. While I admit I am no MAC fan, This idea will eventually catch on, I just think that without an external peripheral to write on that it kind of falls short when netbooks can do a lot more for less.

Oh hand lastly, let's not forget ergonomics, its difficult enough to type on a regular keyboard with good posture. I see many hurting necks from bending over to type on this thing.

Hey Josh, I agree with you, the iPad will be a huge success, despite it's ginormous pricetag. But I can't help but agree with Tim that there have to be features that are purposely being held back for a future version. They aren't unique in that practice, so I'm not going to single them out. But for such a large investment, it's disheartening for early adopters.

Let's all remember to give Apple the credit it deserves for being the biggest techno magic-eight-ball in computer history. They marketed the first GUI, the first mouse, the first laptop, and the first PDA. Not all of those things were financial miracle children (Anybody remember the Newton?) but Apple consistently releases products that move the industry in new and exciting directions. History tells me that the iPad is the beginning of something much bigger than itself, whether the actual product is fantastic or not. I, personally think the iPad is a fantastic idea, though am going to hold out for a second or third generation version that can do a few more things like word processing.

Josh makes a great point about the original iPod. The thing had loads of issues, but they eventually ironed out the kinks. Apple is very good at listening to it's customers. They're going to find out what people don't like about this thing, and take care of it fast. I predict a new iPad by summer that has more input options, word processing, and a few other features that this one doesn't have. I'm not saying everyone needs to buy one today, I'm just saying don't give up on the iPad too soon. Apple hasn't let us down yet.

I'd also like to point out that "Biggest Disappointment in Human History" is a pretty intense claim. I think I can think of a few other things to the running. Let's get a list going:

New Coke
The Starwars prequel trilogy
The Titanic
The Tower of Babel
The Carter Administration

Those are just off the top of my head, and I feel confident that all of them score higher than the iPad. Does anyone else wanna' tack a few more items on just for fun?

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