iPad for Stock Trading? Decisions, Decisions

I sometimes wish my iPhone had an app to tell me what I really use my iPhone for. I am sure I’d be surprised. I’m guessing, but the shakeout might look like this:

  • 60% — Making stock trade and checking on related information (stock futures, stock and precious metals prices, CNBC news etc.
  • 10% — Reading newspapers (Minneapolis StarTribune, NY Times,etc.)
  • 10% — Internet searches and other idle curiosity research, i.e., is Van Johnson still alive? (no).
  • 5% — Reading and checking for emails
  • 5% — Using the calculator
  • 3% — Talking on the phone, texting
  • 2% — Making notes to myself
  • 5% — All other uses

The reason why this inventory boiled to the surface today is because I got an email from Apple inviting me to buy one of their flashy new iPads. And I’m asking myself, do I really need another electronic gadget?

At this moment I’m leaning toward buying one. But if I were to be honest, I would admit my reasoning is entirely specious. I need an iPad like I need another TV set (and I’ve got several of those cluttering my little condo). Charlie, I plead with myself, think of all those starving people in Haiti and clinging to life in Darfur. Just think of what $500 could for the SPCA. In truth, I purposefully block such magnanimous thinking from my mind.

Instead, I relish the opportunity to connect more fully to the social world. But let me report that I already live in an iPad: a crib with wall-to-wall wi-fi so I’m never away from a robust Internet signal. Accordingly, I am an Internet user literally all day long.

It started when I bought my iPhone. I started checking the stock futures and pre, premarket stock prices even before I lifted my groggy head from the pillow. Having that news, of course, tells me whether I can stay in bed an extra hour or so, or whether I should get up and starting doing battle with the market makers. If the indexes are deep into the green, I better get my patootie out of bed. If they’re deep into the red, I won’t be buying anything until a half-hour or so after the market opens and the market decides which way it is really going to move.

When I do get up, I make coffee, turn on my desktop and check out the stock trading landscape and the news of the day. But that takes only a half-hour to an hour, and then I can either stay glued to my desktop or recline in an overstuffed chair that is situated about 10 feet away from the desktop.

From the easy chair (and here’s where my thinking gets specious) I can fritter away some time checking out that cheeky Erin Burnett on CNBC or watching an old Barbara Stanwyck movie on TCM and — with my iPhone — keep tabs on the shifting prices of my favorite stocks. If something hot happens, I can make the trade right from my iPhone, or get up out of the chair, walk 10 feet, and place the order on my desktop. (It’s a tough life but somebody’s got to do this).

Enter: the iPad.

Buying an iPad would change that scenario in a way so ostentatious that even Thorstein Veblen would be proud. Instead of walking 10 feet and reviewing stock prices on my desktop or doing the same on my itty-bitty iPhone from my easy chair, iPad would give me the opportunity to do all that stuff on the BIG screen right without moving. Nor would I have to crack open on my little netbook (how I hate that hassle of lifting that lid). Now how’s that for being lame?

What’s more, my friends at iStockManager, the folks that made the Ameritrade trading platform iPhone-ready, told me today their app for iPad will be available the day the iPad itself goes on sale. Now how can I resist?

Plus, of course, I get 140,000 other iPad apps to chose from, probably including a WordPress app, a banking app, etc. etc. etc.

Frankly, that’s my idea of conspicuous consumption. I mean, I already own three computers and a smartphone. Isn’t an iPad giving me just another excuse to sit on my butt and fart around all day in an easy chair?

Of course it is. But I think I deserve it, don’t you? I mean, I’ve just stuck it out through another Minnesota winter without setting foot in Mexico, or running away to anyplace warm and that, after all, is what this blog is all about? So what if I was trapped here by an unfinished book that desperately needed my editing. God knows I deserve this new toy!

I haven’t yet decided whether to buy it but you can see where this is going. I’m caving in to the Apple hype. I don’t need an iPad, but I am unable to resist the temptation of becoming a complete mouse . . . er, couch potato.

One final note: When you get to hell, look for me. I’ll be there.

Charlie, the Runaway Trader