Why I'm Returning My Apple iPad ($AAPL)

In the past 48 hours I’ve gone from boycotting the Apple iPad, to purchasing one, and this morning I’m bringing it back to the store. While I can explain my initial justification for purchasing the device, I should state that I could just as easily justify the purchase of a watch that remotely turns on my car. Purchasing luxury goods can be fun, but in this case, there are far too many substitutes for the device which are either cheaper, have more functionality, or both.

The iPad Is A Luxury Good

Yes, I may have disposable income, but I also like to feel good about my purchases. Having the option to purchase luxury items is always nice, but the option is often much more appealing than the actual act of making the purchase. Simply put, the iPad is nothing more than a luxury good that you can show off to your friends. Yet when numerous people asked me my thoughts on the device while using it on the go yesterday, I admitted that I couldn’t figure out the main value of the device.

Battery Life Is A Big Selling Point But Not Enough

The 10 plus hour battery may in itself make the device worth purchasing. It most definitely makes the iPad a legitimate competitor to the Kindle, yet if you truly ask yourself: “Do I need this?”, the answer will always be a definitive, “No!” Why do I need to have a larger screen than my iPhone? If I’m on a flight somewhere, I can pull out my laptop and watch a movie.

Not only that, but I can also accomplish other tasks, like sending email, at the same time, something the iPad is not capable of. The iPad has the following advantages:

  • Lighter than a full laptop, which makes it most useful while lying on the couch or in bed
  • Option to consume any form of media. In contrast to the Kindle which is mostly limited to consuming books, the iPad lets you watch videos, listen to music, respond to email, browse the internet, play games, and anything else that app developers enable you to do.

If you are a millionaire, you can possibly justify the extra cost for having a more convenient device on your nightstand (instead of lugging a laptop around), but I also don’t know many people who became wealthy by just blowing their money on useless devices. Yes, there’s some value to the device, but I’m perfectly happy reading a book when I have the opportunity to lie on the couch or take a break in bed before falling asleep.

Let’s be honest: most people who truly have the disposable income to purchase an iPad don’t have the time to lie on the couch and browse the internet for hours on end.

Apple Will Not Revolutionize Magazines And Textbooks On Behalf Of Publishers

There is a significant opportunity to change the magazine industry and Apple was touted as the platform that would do that. Wired magazine has developed a new type of publication just for the device, and there are a number of other publishers who have promised similar digital versions of their publications. Textbooks will also go through a similar process of becoming more interactive, however Apple is not going to monopolize these markets anytime soon.

iTunes is simply one distribution channel for publishers. While the iPod single handedly transformed the music industry, the iPad is much more expensive. While iPods were more expensive than their competitors, everybody had one and by not purchasing one, you weren’t “in the cool crowd”. Unfortunately iPads are much more elitist, with owners having to shell out four times the price of an iPod nano. Simply put, it’s extremely challenging to transform an entire industry with an extremely expensive device.