Sunday, January 30, 2011

American tablet on Indian shores

You no longer need to visit the grey market to buy the Apple iPad. The iconic tablet computer is finally available in India, even though it’s been over 9 months since its US launch.

When Apple launched the iPad in the US on April 3, 2010, hardcore fans and enthusiasts thronged the company’s retail stores, with hundreds of people standing in lines. Jenna Wortham from NY Times reported that, “There are about 300 people in line at the store, but the lines are moving fairly quickly.” 300,000 iPads were sold that day by midnight. 28 days later, Apple went on to sell 1 million iPads and the number increased to 3 million by June 22.

iPadWhat’s most surprising about the Indian launch of the iPad is the pricing. The entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi version costs only R 27,900 while the top-end 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G variant will set you back by R 44,900. Just to compare pricing, the former costs R 23,000 ($499) in the US and the latter, R 38,000 ($829). The average difference works out to hardly R 5,000.

Not one to miss out, mobile service provider BSNL has already launched several 3G data plans for the iPad. Prepaid plans start at R 100 per day with unlimited data usage. Both prepaid and postpaid plans offer unlimited access for R 999 per month. Other carriers are expected to come out with iPad specific plans soon. Even so, the iPad, just like the (yet to be launched) iPhone 4 should even work with existing 2G plans from Vodafone, Airtel and other Indian carriers. Just remember that it needs a micro-SIM; regular mini-SIM cards won’t fit in the slot.

Other competitors in the Indian market include the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab that costs R 38,000 and the 5-inch Dell Streak that’s available for R 34,999. Both of these devices run Google’s Android 2.2 operating system and sport 3G and Wi-Fi.

For the uninitiated, the Apple iPad has a 9.7-inch LCD touchscreen that’s based on IPS (in-plane switching) technology. IPS LCD screens have better colour depth and viewing angles compared to conventional displays. The iPad runs the same operating system as the iPod Touch and iPhone 4 – IOS. System internals too are the same as those in the iPhone 4 – a 1GHz processor, 16/32/64 GB memory configurations, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and (optionally) 3G connectivity, a digital compass and GPS. The 9.7-inch screen packs in 1024x768 pixels and sports a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating. Unlike Samsung and Dell’s tablets, the iPad doesn’t come with a camera.

Even though the iPad has stormed the markets worldwide, many Indians feels as if Apple is clearing old stock to make way for the launch of the next version of the iPad, that amongst other things will include a front and rear camera and a high-resolution Retina Display. “A little too late, a little too less. Let the iPad 2 come out!” mentions a user on “Look at the brighter side. We get official warranty for the imported iPads which otherwise wouldn't have been possible,” sums up another member.

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