Friday, September 3, 2010

iPad launch touch it or trash it?

On January 27, 2010, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the company’s long anticipated tablet device – the iPad, to be precise. Set to bridge the gap between a smartphone and a laptop, this brand new gadget has similar functionality to the smaller iPhone or iPod Touch but is larger, sleeker and comes with a full QWERTY keyboard. It boasts 150,000 apps till date and features an easy to master touch interface, iBooks, Wi-Fi and 3G support. So, it is no wonder that jobs has proudly proclaimed the iPad to be “the most important thing ever done.”

Hoping to capture the market ruled by millions of PC users who are frustrated with their virus ridden, cumbersome and much too expensive laptops and desktops, the iPad ahs the potential to outsell even the wildly successful iPhone, it is also said that the breakthrough device may propel the finger driven interface ahead of the decades enduring mouse.

Immediately, the Internet was buzzing with reactions to the initial announcement of the iPad. The hot and happening Twitter was chirping with endless feedback. Out of the 50,000 tweets analysed by the Attensity Group, at least 67 per cent professed love and adoration for the new device while 87 percent stated that they would purchase the iPad. Imaginations whirled as people wondered about the unique ways in which the iPad would enhance their life – be it giving office presentations or watching movies on the beach.

But not all reactions were as euphoric and many were quick to point out its lack of unique features and functions. The iPad cannot have two programmes running simultaneously, thus disabling the multi taking option for power users. There is no stylus included either, which means artists cannot make digital sketches. But most importantly, the iPad does not support Flash.  Another crippling blow to its most touted feature – seamless Web browsing. There are no in built video cameras, so commonly found in notebooks and net books, And those who wanted to use the iPad for teleconferencing, content creation or playing Flash games, were hugely disappointed, to say the least. Their dreams were dashed even before the first iPad went on sale in the USA.  Some people even had a gripe with the product name.

Yet, this initial skepticism did not get into the way of Apple fans, clamoring to touch the iPad on launch day. By the midnight of April 3, over 300,000 iPads were sold in the USA where it premiered. ipad users also downloaded more than a million apps and over 250,000 e-books on the day. However,  this did not quite live up to the hype as the initial frenzy indicated that sales could be as high as 700,000. But with a few more than 300,000 iPads manufactured in time for launch, the product was almost, but not quite, sold out of stock.

However, the US consumers are expected to account for just half of iPad customers this year. The product will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK in April-May, and apple is hoping to sell four million of the touch screen devices around the world by year end.

This prediction has merit, as clear foreign interest in the iPad signals a burgeoning international demand for the product. Almost 80 per cent of iPad purchases on eBay came from outside the USA and one buyer in the UK paid $55,000 for an iPad. Die-hard Apple fans actually travelled to the USA from faraway places like Cyprus, Spain and Argentina to get their hands on the touch device. On Australian resident paid $2,500 to travel to New York and buy 20 iPads for himself and his fellow Apple enthusiasts in Melbourne.

The iPad has inevitably found its way out of the USA and into the international ‘grey market’ where the legality of selling this device is questionable. A CNN reporter found seven stores on the crowded streets of Mongkok selling iPads days after the US release. By April 7, Business Week also came across an electronics store in Mumbai that had a handful of iPads for sell. Amit Jain, owner of the Mumbai outlet, has been able to charge Rs. 100,000 or $2,250 for the device and says that he has 30 more customers waiting for his next shipment. Some people in mainland Chinese bought iPads in bulk from a reseller in Hong Kong, just to resell them in china for a higher price.

But after the product has finally reached the masses and the hype has died down to some extent what do people really thing of Apple’s new touch tablet? Early review were a mixed bag also came up with an in depth analysis a few months ago but of late, we are getting more positive feedback that overshadows much of the initial skepticism. It seems that the more time one spends with an iPad, the more it is appreciated and better ways are found to integrator it into one’s life.  But this doesn’t mean that there were no heartbreaks on the lunch day. iPad users quickly filled Apple forums with complaints raging from charging headaches to crashing app. The Wi-Fi was reported to be faulty, picking up a weak signal or no signal at all, while other devices – even other Apple products would pick it up just fine. While some acclimated to the smaller, touch sensitive keyboard, others bitterly complained of bad ergonomics when typing on a flat surface. And watching the episodes of Lost on the beach was not as easy as it was anticipate due to the iPad’s screen glare under the sun.

Jenny, a middle school student, wants an iPad to use Facebook and Twitter, as well as upload and share photos on these social networking sites. Edith Perkil, a grand mom, just wants a simple way to browse the Web and use the e-mail to stay in touch with her grandchildren, without having to learn how to operate a PC.

So before you decide whether to buy an iPad or not, here is the most important question that you need to ask yourself how you do intend to use it? And to answer this question, you may need to hold this touchpad tablet magic, at least once. 



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