Obama Drama Over iPad Fad

Could it really be true? Could Barack Obama be less technically competent than his predecessor?

If a recent speech by Obama is anything to go by, the answer could be yes. Speaking to the graduating class at Hampton University in Virginia, Obama said:

“With iPods and iPads; Xboxes and PlayStations – none of which I know how to work – information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.”

That’s raised some eyebrows given that the New York Times revealed in 2005 that then-President George Bush owned an iPod (though he’d only put 250 songs on it despite its 10,000 song capacity.) It’s also created some irritation among Apple enthusiasts who are disgruntled to see the iPad mentioned in the same breath as purely entertainment devices.

On closer inspection it’s tough to take the words literally: it’s well known that Obama can and does use a BlackBerry and, even though that’s a fairly simple device to use, it’s arguably less intuitive than an iPod. The chances are Obama was simply trying to make a joke and acknowledge that a 48-year old with a fairly busy schedule probably has a different experience of consumer technology than your average student.

Still, the iPad does have some fans in the world of political leadership. The President Prime Minister of Norway recently revealed that while stranded in New York thanks to the recent volcanic ash cloud over Europe, he was able to work at the airport using a cellphone and an iPad.

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