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  • 05Apr

    Apple's iPad: Content with Restrictions

    From npr

    The obsession of the tech savvy this weekend was the release of Apple‘s iPad. The tablet computer, which looks like an oversized iPod touch, is being hailed by many as a revolutionary device. But there are some critics who say it’s a sign that the Internet revolution could be coming to an end.

    On its Web site, Apple boasts that the iPad makes you “feel like you are actually holding the Web right in the palm of your hand.”

    Paul Sweeting, an analyst with GigaOM, sees it differently. “With the iPad,” he says, “you have the anti-Internet in your hands.”

    ‘Pushing Content To You On Their Terms’

    Although Apple is marketing the iPad as a replacement for a netbook or a laptop, Sweeting says Apple’s control over the iPad makes it very different, because on most computers, you can choose any software or application you like. “This is not an open platform where you can create a lot of content, or other people can create a lot of applications and content that you can then access and use and incorporate into what you’re doing,” he says.

    Jonathan Zittrain, a law professor at Harvard, says Apple even rejected an application that took a position that was critical of the former Bush administration. The app was called Freedom Time, and Zittrain says “it actually simply counted down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until President Bush would be out of office, regardless of who his successor would be.”

    Zittrain and Sweeting worry that if the iPad becomes popular, both entertainment and computing companies will imitate its closed system.

    Sweeting says he thinks many of the major media companies would love to see computers discourage people from searching the open Internet for content.

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