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Old 05-25-2010, 04:22 AM   #1
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European Parliament to buy iPads for every member

http://www.techinfospotlight.com/201...or-apple-ipad/

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THEY are renowned for seldom knowingly missing a perk. Now MEPs have decided that, financial crisis or not, they will snaffle a taxpayer-funded Apple iPad for every member two times the latest computer must-have is launched on the European market.

The European parliament’s bureau, its administrative office, has earmarked £4.3m for an “IT mobility project”.
Bad as the financial crisis may be, the bureau has decided that all 736 MEPs need to become more “connected” & that the iPad, a transportable tablet computer, is the gizmo to enable them to do more on the move.

The iPads, likely to cost over £500 each, will be highly coveted when they are released on to the European market on May 28. Half a million of the devices were bought in the United States in the week that Steve Jobs, head of Apple, launched them earlier this year.

Although MEPs have recently been equipped with new Hewlett-Packard laptops, some have told the bureau they find them cumbersome in comparison with the iPad.
The driving force behind the idea is Klaus Welle, the parliament’s Italian secretary-general, who is named an enthusiast for the iPhone, already a popular Apple product.
The iPad plan was disclosed by a senior bureau source who was worried to reveal his name. “We could get rid of our elderly PCs, some of which have outdated program such as Microsoft Word 2003,” the source said.
“The majority of MEPs already have iPhones & they are very happy with them. The PC was lovely for its time but the iPad is a much better gizmo.”

Marta Andreasen, the UKIP member who sits on the budget committee, said: “We were told the iPads would actually cut costs as they are not pricey & that they would be able to stay connected while outside the office or on holidays, but lots of of the older MEPs don’t even know how to make use of the net properly.

“I am against that because it seems unnecessary, when European taxpayers are facing such difficult times.”
A parliament spokeswoman denied that there were designs to get iPads for MEPs in the “immediate future” & said he was not familiar with the bureau initiative.
I'm a bit pissed off, sincerely. Though it is fitting that one of the most obscure organisations in the whole Earth opens its gates to one of the most obscure, closed-source-friendly gizmos ever made, I would like it not shoved in my face.
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Old 05-25-2010, 04:58 AM   #2
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"A parliament spokeswoman denied that there were designs to get iPads for MEPs in the “immediate future” & said he was not familiar with the bureau initiative."

Is that a world record time for a gender reassignment?

Looks like the story was copied from The Times with a few added typos.
I'm not sure I believe it.
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Old 05-25-2010, 05:15 AM   #3
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I'll wait for one or two days and the story being crosschecked before believing this. None of the bigger techsites carries this up to now. Wait and see.
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Old 05-25-2010, 11:27 AM   #4
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That would really make sense -- they might be thinking better grab what you can get before the EU is bankrupt! But I think the whole story sounds more like a belated April fools' joke.
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Old 05-25-2010, 01:49 PM   #5
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Seems rather an odd choice, you would expect them to pair a smartphone such as a blackberry with the laptops they have, if it is true then it does seem like they are just pocketing a new toy.
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Old 05-25-2010, 02:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Logseman View Post
I'm a bit pissed off, sincerely. Though it is fitting that one of the most obscure organisations in the whole Earth opens its gates to one of the most obscure, closed-source-friendly gizmos ever made, I would like it not shoved in my face.
I'm not a huge fan of the iPad. That said:

1) No one is making a competing product yet.
2) Though the platform is closed (and in many ways a PITA), access to content isn't particularly controlled.
3) Though the platform is closed, they can develop their own apps, with private and secure channels, to distribute information. E.g. they can develop an app that can push out encrypted PDF's to the MEP's via the Enterprise app setup.
4) It's a lot easier to deal with a single unified hardware/software platform than a dozen different open source firmwares and hardware configs.

So, I have to say I'm not really seeing what advantage open source has here, especially at this point in time.
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Old 05-25-2010, 04:13 PM   #7
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Kali Yuga, let's start from the beginning: European Parliament Members do not need (understanding it as "requisite of their jobs") a device which has been conceived as a media consumption tablet, and not as a work interface. In case they want to do some work (which I doubt), they'll need the ability to actually add some text input, a task for which they have smartphones and recently-acquired HP laptops, both by the taxpayer.

The open source thing was not meant as an attack to the iPad, but as an attack towards an organisation which should strive to spare some costs to its stakeholders through the usage of OSS and which instead keeps putting more and more cash in the hands of Big Business.

Last edited by Logseman; 05-25-2010 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 05-25-2010, 05:35 PM   #8
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I can't believe I'm actually defending tablets.


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Originally Posted by Logseman View Post
Kali Yuga, let's start from the beginning: European Parliament Members do not need (understanding it as "requisite of their jobs") a device which has been conceived as a media consumption tablet....
I concur that "need" is a strong word.

However, I can see how it can be a useful device that extends beyond a mere toy for MEP's -- especially for those who are not technically savvy. For example, as you may have noticed some governments tend to knock out absolutely massive documents, and would need to send out a large number of copies. Sending out PDF's to individuals who have a large color PDF reader is clearly beneficial.

Or again, as I cited, they could fairly easily develop a proprietary app to securely distribute sensitive documents to the MEP's.


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Originally Posted by Logesman
In case they want to do some work (which I doubt), they'll need the ability to actually add some text input, a task for which they have smartphones and recently-acquired HP laptops, both by the taxpayer.
I concur that the iPad in its current iteration is not truly a laptop replacement -- though not so much due to the form factor, as it's fairly easy to pair a bluetooth keyboard to the iPad. (The real issue is horrible file management, which might get fixed in the fall, but who knows). However, obviously I don't see it as impossible to do work on an iPad, especially if "work" means reading PDF's, doing web-based research, and email. There are already quite a few productivity apps, and it's much easier to take notes etc on the iPad than an iPhone.


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Originally Posted by Logesman
The open source thing was not meant as an attack to the iPad
Yes, it was. Otherwise you wouldn't have mentioned it. Just be a man and admit it already.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Logesman
but as an attack towards an organisation which should strive to spare some costs to its stakeholders through the usage of OSS and which instead keeps putting more and more cash in the hands of Big Business.
I see little evidence that going OSS would save money here -- especially if it happens to result in increased maintenance and/or development costs.

Nor do I necessarily see "Big Business" as an automatic designation of Pure Evil or high cost. Economies of scale tend to reduce prices, not increase them. Small size does not guarantee moral integrity or righteousness, and some things -- including producing 1,000 or so devices that are low-maintenance, use a common and relatively easy programming interface -- can't be done in any sort of reliable and affordable fashion if your vendor is "Adelbrecht's Mom & Pop Computer Shop."

Or to put it another way: I'm not seeing a lot of evidence that Android-based smartphones are significantly cheaper than ones with proprietary OS's.

Plus the startup costs for, let's say, 1000 iPads (750 for MEP's, the rest for IT, repairs and misc other staffers) is only £700,000 -- i.e. probably only a small part of the £4.3 million project.

You're welcome to be bitter by default about government officials and corporations, but I'm not finding this to be a particularly egregious problem, nor your objections especially persuasive.
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Old 05-25-2010, 06:28 PM   #9
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I always get pissed off whenever an organization decides to frivolously spend money like that. I remember the members of my university's student government got free blackberries, too.

*sight*
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Old 05-25-2010, 06:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
However, I can see how it can be a useful device that extends beyond a mere toy for MEP's -- especially for those who are not technically savvy. For example, as you may have noticed some governments tend to knock out absolutely massive documents, and would need to send out a large number of copies. Sending out PDF's to individuals who have a large color PDF reader is clearly beneficial.

Or again, as I cited, they could fairly easily develop a proprietary app to securely distribute sensitive documents to the MEP's.
The very source cites that old MEP's are not tech-savvy at all and don't even know how internet works, let alone use it. As you may know, the EP is mainly a cemetery of political elephants who can't be positioned anywhere else in their countries and who find a golden retirement in Brussels. I wonder as well what secret data must be handled by an MEP, but that's of course another matter... Parliaments are obscure by default, seemingly.

Quote:
I concur that the iPad in its current iteration is not truly a laptop replacement -- though not so much due to the form factor, as it's fairly easy to pair a bluetooth keyboard to the iPad. (The real issue is horrible file management, which might get fixed in the fall, but who knows). However, obviously I don't see it as impossible to do work on an iPad, especially if "work" means reading PDF's, doing web-based research, and email. There are already quite a few productivity apps, and it's much easier to take notes etc on the iPad than an iPhone.
I concur to the fact that the iPad can be a productivity tool, but it's not like they don't have alternatives to do their work besides it. They have them, and not only that, they have them paid with the finest taxpayer's leather.

Quote:
I see little evidence that going OSS would save money here -- especially if it happens to result in increased maintenance and/or development costs.

Nor do I necessarily see "Big Business" as an automatic designation of Pure Evil or high cost. Economies of scale tend to reduce prices, not increase them. Small size does not guarantee moral integrity or righteousness, and some things -- including producing 1,000 or so devices that are low-maintenance, use a common and relatively easy programming interface -- can't be done in any sort of reliable and affordable fashion if your vendor is "Adelbrecht's Mom & Pop Computer Shop."
Economies of scale are not as important as they ressemble, since they're subsidised by the states, as companies do not pay the cost for much of the infrastructure necessary for them to operate in a large scale (highways, ports, airports).

Going OSS saves costs, as this very forum gives evidence of. Calibre's technical support, for a program which is claimed as immensely superior to other proprietary library management solutions and which is used by thousands of people, is mainly performed by... two or three people, who have their project supported by donations. One would imagine that the EU, very keen on embezzling money for improductive subsidies, would be able to save some funds to hire competent technical support for its own functioning.

As an aside note, Big Business isn't evil, for it's mere greed which fuels its rent-seeking. The matter comes since Big Business is a sock puppet of the states, a mere tool of exercising foreign policy like armies, diplomat corps and nation-based NGO's. And states... well, their way of functioning is closer to "evil" than anything else.
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Old 05-25-2010, 07:14 PM   #11
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“We could get rid of our elderly PCs, some of which have outdated program such as Microsoft Word 2003,”
And replace it with Pages for iPad?
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Old 05-25-2010, 07:25 PM   #12
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I agree the iPad could be used for some productivity stuff--but it's far from ideal.

Most government docs in the us are 8.5x11"--in the EU I assume their A4. The 9.6" screen isn't ideal for reading these. Doable in landscape mode, but lots of scrolling.

Pages is a pretty limited word processor-but might could get the job done. But having to pair with a wireless keyboard (or the keyboard dock) is clunkier than having a laptop etc.

And I say that all as some that does want a tablet for productivity reasons. But I'd always want my laptop and desktop to do real work. I'd just use the tablet for reading and marking up documents and that sort of thing once there's one with a screen big enough for working with documents at 100% view (or very close) in portrait mode.
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:46 AM   #13
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I'd rather watch the MEPs surfing, reading or playing on the iPad than actually making any politics.

Let them instead enjoy eBooks and pass pro-eBooks laws.
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:10 AM   #14
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“We could get rid of our elderly PCs, some of which have outdated program such as Microsoft Word 2003,”
How on earth is Word 2003 outdated? Ok from the perspective of it has been superseded by 2007, ok I agree, but Word 2003 (and all of Office 2003) is still a very functional and capable office suite.

If the idea posed happened here in Australia I would be one very unhappy person. I can see some benefits for those who embrace technology, but just giving them to people does not assist people in embracing it. For example millions of dollars were spent here in Australia (well one state anyway) dishing out laptops to teachers so they can improve their teaching. These laptops are replaced every 4 years. Now I worked in the education system, and all I saw teachers embrace was the fact that they now have a laptop they can put iTunes on and their kids can play games on at home. Very little benefit came out of it, and if you did a cost/benefit analysis, the rollout would never have happened.
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:16 AM   #15
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"A parliament spokeswoman denied that there were designs to get iPads for MEPs in the “immediate future” & said he was not familiar with the bureau initiative."

Is that a world record time for a gender reassignment?

Looks like the story was copied from The Times with a few added typos.
I'm not sure I believe it.
The European parliament, like any other public organisation, would have to go through an extensive RFQ process, even for relatively small invest.
I don't think, this would be possible for a unit which only is around for a month...
Sounds a bit strange...
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