Do I Buy a RIM Playbook? Or a Hamster?

RIM launched its new tablet, the Playbook yesterday. (If you weren't aware of this, you really should get out more..) Do I want one? What kind of IT person would I be if I didn't? Will I get one? No. And here's why.

This is not a review of the Playbook features, flaws or benefits. It's not an analysis of whether or not it's an iPad killer. My reason for not getting a playbook is simple. I don't have enough room in my pockets, on my desk, or in my satchel (it's NOT a man purse!). If I add the Playbook, something gets relegated to the "collect dust on the shelf" phase before it becomes one more contribution to the mountain of e-Waste we humans produce every day.

It's not that I don't like technology. My current personal arsenal includes an LG WP7 phone, an iPhone, an iPad (original flavour), a Fujitsu T580 small format hybrid tablet PC (my travelling machine), a Fujitsu T4410 full size hybrid tablet (the standard model used at Appleby), an Entourage Edge eReader/Android netbook (for reading my Kindle and Kobo books outdoors), an HP desktop (at home), AppleTV, and so on... I know you are thinking one of two things... "Is that ALL?" and proceed to list your arsenal, or "This person needs therapy!" Hi, my name is Kevin, and I have techno-lust.

There actually is a very good reason (in my deluded state of mind) that I need each and every one of these devices. Each of these devices does something better than all the other devices. I haven't found the Swiss Army knife of personal technology. So I end up carrying a boatload of technology around. But I digress... this is a topic for another post.

The point I really want to get across is that in a year (or less), all of the items I have listed will become obsolete, if they aren't already. The average lifecycle for a cell phone is approximately 18 months, my iPad didn't even go a year before the iPad2 replaced it. Let's admit it. We really, really like the smell of new technology when we unwrap it. We LOVE casually putting the latest model of phone/tablet/etc. out on the table hoping someone will notice it. We are consumers. We LOVE consuming things.

This post is not a rage against the machine, but a personal reflection on a personal choice. Would I buy a Playbook just because it's new? Or would I buy one because it actually meets a need I (or my organization has)? The chances of the Playbook becoming a dust collector in 12 months is statistically high, at which time that beautiful sculpted piece of plastic, metal and silicone will have a net value of approximately $0.

As an IT leader, should I focus on the ever changing plethora of end point devices, or focus on the environment that will allow any of these devices to work well? Are they evaluated on latest or greatest, or how they will allow my team, my company, and myself to do things we need to do better, faster, or in a way that differentiates us from our competitors?

After thinking that through... the Playbook didn't make the cut. Sorry RIM.

As for the hamster? The lifespan of a hamster is about 2-1/2 years and you can find one for less than $20. At the end of its life, the hamster would still be doing what it does best, not superceded by Hamster 2.0. It would appear that hamsters are a better investment than a new tablet in terms of longevity.

Note: This post appeared as one of my entries in BloggingIdol contest.


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