Friday, October 29, 2010

COLUMN: I’ll take my free iPad now

Regular readers of this column may recall how, in 2005, I made a very public request to the Apple Corporation to send me a free iPod. Their response was a deafening silence, which was better than the anticipated restraining order, but only marginally.

Eventually I had to break down and buy one, but I am undeterred and have decided to get back on the free portable electronics horse (let’s call him “Chippy”) and request that Apple send me a complimentary iPad, their hugely popular tablet computer. Sure, I know that everyone wants a free iPad, but it just so happens that I have a particularly urgent need for the device’s primary function, which is to make you look cooler than you actually are.

That’s a function I’ve always needed, actually, with the possible exception of the period when I was the lead singer in my high school’s most popular rockabilly band. Oh wait, that was just who I wanted to be … I was actually the dweeby guy in the corner whose persona could have desperately benefited from an iPad that Steve Jobs had beamed back to the 1980s from his revolving space station.

Ah, but you say the iPad’s purpose is not to make you look cool but rather to help you better experience the Web, e-mail, photos and video. “You,” of course, are Apple’s marketing department, because everybody knows the real, actual reason you get one is to pull it out at every opportunity — at work, in a bar, at a Red Sox game, during an “intimate moment” — and watch the jaws drop around you. If drool results in some quarters, all the better.

I base this theory at least partially on the new study by the Neilsen Company that says a full one-third of iPad users have never even downloaded an “app” (short for “Appolonia”) for the device. Yes, I know that Neilsen later issued a correction and stated the actual number of users who hadn’t downloaded apps was more like 9 percent, but we can presume that Steve Jobs’ goons got to them in the interim. (I doubt Neilsen could actually be that far off on anything, although it would explain the 1976 cancellation of “Holmes and Yo-Yo.”)

Besides, I don’t need a study to show why people buy iPads. Take the guy in Seattle (where else?) who last week asked President Obama to sign his iPad, clearly to one-up the crowd of caffeine-addled liberal hipsters (including President Obama) surrounding him. Of course, the fact that the president did it will probably give the GOP another excuse to label him as elitist and out of touch, unlike Sarah Palin, who, when presented with an iPad to sign, shot it from a helicopter.

I’m not saying using an iPad to be popular is a good thing — we all know that what people should really be doing with their iPads is reading newspapers, so that the industry doesn’t implode. It’s ironic that just like with an iPad, reading a newspaper in public also draws the attention of strangers, although they mostly just stare and prod, like they just spotted a long-extinct reptile.

So Apple, if you send me my free iPad, I promise to give you unlimited promotion in this publication and on my blog, which have a combined audience equal to the ratings of “Holmes and Yo-Yo,” as reported by Neilsen, who is, obviously, drunk. You can send it to me care of this newspaper, but make sure to put my name prominently on the package, because frankly I don’t trust all those sports editors who hang around near the mail cubbies.

Or if it’s easier, you can just beam it to me.

Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. Follow him on Twitter at To receive At Large by e-mail, write to, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE.”

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