The Apple IPad 2 – Luxury Or Necessity?

There is a new iPad in town and it is faster, smaller and a ton cooler than its first version. But this marvel of modern design and innovation unfortunately still remains an incredible piece of technology you probably do not need.

Yes, the iPad2 has made it to Ugandan shores. Plenty of ‘mzungus’ and Ugandan businessmen have smuggled them into the country from their trips to the US, Europe, Asia, South America or the Middle East. And you can even buy a new iPad2 at an exorbitant cost at some of the gadget shops that dot the city.

But why do Ugandans have to go to such lengths or pay such a price for a piece of technology that has become commonplace in Western countries? On a recent trip to New York shortly after the iPad2 was released, I asked the salesman if there were any available. He shot back a look of contempt.

“We sold out of them the first day. Now when we get new stock, people are lined up around the corner to buy one,” he said with a look that said I should have known this.

Demand has apparently leveled off and one can now walk into an Apple store anywhere in the developed world and buy one. But one has to wonder why over a year after the release of the first version, you still cannot officially purchase one here. Neither Orange, who sells the iPhone, nor MTN are planning on bringing it in, though I am sure the demand would be significant. Why bring in the Samsung Galaxy Tab and not the iPad?

Back to the device itself, it is an incredible piece of technology. Utilizing the super-fast connection in the Apple Store, I was able to zip around the Internet with ease and watch videos and play games. An hour passed before I realized I was supposed to meet a friend 30 minutes ago.

The iPad is light, fast, intuitive and fun. Kind of like a the sports car of the computer world. But like the sports car, it is definitely something that is cool to have but not critical to own. Typing on an iPad is still awkward and all the apps in the world will not allow the iPad to seamlessly synch to your Microsoftbased work existence.

Perhaps one of the few occupations for which the iPad2 would be an indispensable tool is that of magazine editor. I could scan the world’s magazines for inspiration on new design and content. I could read and save great articles by some of my favourite writers while Tweeting my find to my friends and colleagues. I could…

One thing I could not do is convince my wife that I needed to buy myself an iPad2 because it is a necessary tool for my job. The truth is that it is not necessary. But it sure is cool.

by Ole Tangen Jr.