October 22nd, 2010
07:19 AM GMT
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(CNN) – This week I wrestled with a thorny ethical dilemma. I was given an iPad for my birthday which triggered a great deal of soul searching.

Many people might say I was lucky to be given one at all. That my wife was thoughtful and generous. The sleek Apple design was certainly enticing and I am apparently a typical iPad user, consuming various types of books, media, video and music.

But as I opened the present, I felt a great sense of unease sweep over me. I knew it was expensive $700 for a 3G version and while we could obviously physically afford to pay for it, it seemed excessive. Could I really justify keeping it?

For days I toiled with the burden of trying to decide: Was I ready for a lifestyle change that would embrace the world of tablets? I’m a huge fan of the iPod, but would I really get that much use out of a portable internet console with a few trendy apps?

But ultimately it came down to this: In this economic climate, was I comfortable with an extravagant toy? Consumer confidence in the United States remains low and this is greatly hindering economic recovery. And those staying away from the shops are not just the millions of unemployed, but people with jobs who are affected by the same sense of unease as me.

I took it back.

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Filed under: BusinessTechnology

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Bo

    I dunno whether this story says anything about Apple or rather about your own insecurities. Frankly for the money Apple products tend to be more future-proof than any other gadget manufacturers. Thus it is always money well spent. Staying away from shops only helps companies retrench. Wise spending is a different issue, much more personal and based on circumstances at a particular time. Times do change.

    October 22, 2010 at 10:08 am |
  2. Frederick Chua

    I was given an ipad last week from my sister. Your decision in putting it back is not an issue. However, to deal with our sympathy emotion on others is the things that matter. How should we helps others? What went wrong?

    If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves
    and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
    then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal
    their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

    Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
    James 4:10

    Shall we pray for America?

    October 23, 2010 at 1:04 am |
  3. morris agaba

    How many books does USD700 buy? Here in Nairobi, a good book goes for $20 – 50. and youhave to creat speces for the personal library. I think in the long term it makes business, financial and environemntal sense to have kept the iPad or donated it to someone else.

    October 23, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  4. Edward

    If you wanted to write about the economic climate and about what we can do for these people who lost their jobs, then why focus on your iPad gift?

    Two more things:
    - I hope you explained this properly to your wife, she bought you a nice gift and you returned it.
    - I assume this also means you're trading your car for a smaller Korean version.

    October 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
  5. Dirk

    I believe the feeling of uneasiness you described is actually scarcity thinking. Acting that's based on scarcity thinking makes things better in the short term but worse in the mid and long run. If you think the iPad is not for you should have considered to give to someone less financial fortunate than you. Be generous. It feels good and it helps defeating your uneasiness.

    October 24, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
  6. Bakatare

    Send it over to me and I'll be sure to send you a card of thanks.

    October 24, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  7. stanley tan


    how does returning the product do anything to help the economy or the people or those currently unemployed?

    you didn't mention having bought any cheaper alternatives, whether it be another product or simply more books.

    if anything, a refusal to consume actually has a negative effect on an economy, retailers and manufacturers will have lower sales and this could create even more unemployment.


    October 25, 2010 at 1:53 am |
  8. Homer.liang

    I like Ipad

    October 25, 2010 at 6:34 am |
  9. JC

    This kind of thinking will only prolong the recession in the United States. Spending on luxury items with credit may not sound too feasible, but if you have the purchasing power and received it as a gift, why complain.

    If you really want to help out, perhaps offering donation or charity to the not so privileged.

    Have you considered how your wife felt in not accepting her gift?

    October 25, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  10. Baroda

    I seriously need an ipad.
    This is a life saving machine.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  11. hmmm

    This story just shows how bad some people understand the workings of an economy. But at the end of day; the choice is our own. Which might explain why we're in a recession.

    October 26, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  12. green_me

    I would like to have it one but can not afford..wish 1 day i get it for my busy daily jobs..

    October 27, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  13. Mike Wise

    I do not understand this at all. How is not buying something helping anyone? Economic activity consists in people *buying* things from each other – not helping for free or giving things to people (not that he mentions that – but it is implied).
    I think this guy needs to think more and feel less guilt. Buying an iPad that you can afford is not the same as getting as living off flipping houses.

    October 28, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  14. Daniel du Toit

    When you do get one, it will be ok to admit you made a mistake to give it back!

    November 1, 2010 at 2:26 am |
  15. Mobeen

    I was also given an iPad as a gift, at 599, wifi version, it's over priced, and without a USB port,it's useless device. I have tried my best to figure a use for it, I have not been able too.

    It's better to have technology that has a use and a meaning. An iPad is failure in concept. It's hi tech with no use, one cannot even transfer photos from a mobile phone ...

    It's a good thing that you returned it back. Good for you. By a net book , it has more use, and versatility.

    November 2, 2010 at 2:56 am |
  16. Francois Botes

    Great job in giving it back. Yet another toy which you think you cannot do without, but at the end of the day, it takes away from those many other important things in life that is being neglected due to the digital revolution.

    November 2, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
  17. BM

    Taking it back is, in the current US economic climate, probably the worst thing you could have done. It makes no economic sense, in fact your post shouldn't really be on the business page.
    Not mentioning the disappointment your wife would have felt.

    November 2, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
  18. macsteve

    My question is this: What will you do on your new Ipad that you can't do on your mac or laptop?
    Answer: Nothing
    So getting an Ipad is an extravagance that those with the extra cash can afford, but it will not change anything that you are currently doing or add anything to your lifestyle. So if you want one, get one and don't stress over it.

    November 2, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  19. catalyst

    Inner struggle? Oh, please. More like guilty conscience. Even then, your rationale for returning your ipad is full of shit. What are you? Some kind of Martyr? Out of sympathy for the world, you forfeit your ipad? And then write about your actions like you are some kind of hero? Give me a break. You achieved absolutely nothing by your actions. For you or anyone else. Get over yourself.

    November 2, 2010 at 9:14 pm |
  20. LG

    If it takes one ipad to search the soul its getting very serious these days

    November 2, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
  21. readynow

    This is why our economy continous to stumble. What is it that makes us feel about having a new and expensive gadget.....even if we can afford it?

    Consumerism (a bad word for many) is what we need to bring back our economy, A strong demand for products and services will help the economy re-start.

    November 2, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
  22. JuliusCaesar108

    Here are some recent headlines from CNN:
    "Are we becoming 'plant blind'?"
    "Why doesn't game packaging make more sense?"
    "BlackBerry buzz: Is the new Bold a real iPhone rival?"
    "What's next for 'shellacked' Obama?"
    "Inner struggle over the iPad"

    Here's a good headline to add in the editorial section, "Where can I find a decent media that doesn't blow everything out of proportion?" The worst part is that I keep visiting sites like these when I keep forgetting how CNN loves to add drama in their questions to distort reality.

    November 4, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  23. thailandfarang

    returning accomplished nothing but relieving your guilt related to your feelings about the current state of affairs in the USA. News flash... the situation is not your fault and we are 3 years deep with 4-5 years before we are out... and things might never be the same as the baby boomers retire and we are left with a very different work force in size and nature. So you should have held onto that iPad and put it to work like I have. It saves so much money in electricity vs my MBP which is now in a bad collecting dust. Go back and get it and make yourself more productive and add your .00001% to the economic return :D

    November 4, 2010 at 11:25 am |
  24. MAGNUM

    I must be the minority who uses the Ipad for NECESITIES. If you brought it back, you simply had no NEED for one, and would prefer to amuse yourself with this senseless story.

    November 4, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
  25. icon archive

    Completely I share your opinion. In it something is ands it is good idea. I support you.


    September 23, 2012 at 3:54 am |

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