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1/29/2010
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Apple iPad Arrives Amid Controversy

Skeptics dismiss the iPad as underwhelming and limiting while developers see dollar signs.

Apple iPad Launch in Pictures
(click image for larger view)
Apple iPad Launch in Pictures
It will be a few months before the market renders a meaningful judgment on the success or failure of Apple's forthcoming iPad.

But Internet scribes have weighed in along predictable lines.

Peter Brown, executive director of the Free Software Foundation, has lambasted the device as a threat to freedom, a gripe leveled frequently about the iPod and iPhone, not to mention Microsoft, over the years.

Bemoaning the iPad's lack of camera and phone, and its software regulation, Tim Bray, Sun's director of Web technologies, declares, "For creative people, this device is nothing."

Twitter engineer Alex Payne dismisses the iPad as "a deeply cynical thing. It is a digital consumption machine."

Competitors like Nintendo president Satoru Iwata have damned the iPad with faint praise, noting there was nothing surprising about it.

Flash marketing manager Adrian Ludwig complains about Apple's lack of support for Flash. "It looks like Apple is continuing to impose restrictions on [its] devices that limit both content publishers and consumers," he said.

And Internet users -- women in particular -- have ridiculed the name "iPad" and enumerated the iPad's list of supposed failings across thousands of Web sites. Some of the YouTube parodies are pretty funny.

Apple's defenders have answers. Responding to complaints about the iPad's threat to technological freedom, Daring Fireball's John Gruber asserts that Apple is taking computing to a place where low-level access is no longer the norm, the way that car makers have largely done away with manual gear shifting.

"Manual computers, like the Mac and Windows PCs, will slowly shift from the standard to the niche, something of interest only to experts and enthusiasts and developers," he says.

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