Remember, the same thing happened with the iPod Touch, Apple's iPhone-based PDA. The first-generation iPod Touch could play only a few sounds and even then only at a whisper, so its calendar alarms and new-email alerts were useless unless you wearing its earphones. You couldn't change the volume without using the touchscreen -- a real issue when driving, jogging, or carrying groceries. There was no microphone, so you couldn't take voice memos or use services like Skype. (Apple even blocked external microphones from working on it!) Despite Apple making sure each iPhone OS revision has continued to support the first-generation iPod Touch, those hardware limits remain in the actual devices.
You can bet that similar types of issue will be discovered in the first iPad.
Maybe I'm wrong -- maybe the iPad will be the full "magic" that Steve Jobs promises. Wonderful! If that's the case, buy one when you know it really is magic -- after people not employed by Apple have had a chance to really use it and put it through its paces. Until then, why send Apple your money until you know for sure? Doing so would be, well, foolish.
One positive sign in all this iPad hoopla: One of my breathless local TV news stations had its tech reporter at an Apple Store last night hoping to find people lined up to camp out so they could be first in line this morning (at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, 5:30 a.m. Pacific) to order an iPad -- the station was clearly hoping for the kind of lemming-like frenzy we saw for Windows 95 (remember that?), the first iPhone, and for fan-driven movies like the "Star Wars," "Star Trek," and "Harry Potter" franchises.
But guess what: There was no line. Sure, it looked like a few people were willing to go online first thing in the morning to order their iPads sight unseen, or even head to an Apple Store before work today to order one. But only a few. Maybe the infamous Jobs reality distortion field does have limits after all. (Yes, I know you can't pre-order an iPad at the Apple Store. Clearly the TV station's anchorwoman didn't know when she asked the on-the-scene reporter if people were lining up already. And I doubt she's alone in that misimpression.)
A fool and his money are soon parted, the saying goes. Let's hope most Apple fans are as smart as they claim to be.
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This article, "Only a fool would pre-order an iPad," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Gruman et al.'s Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile computing at InfoWorld.com.