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Updated: January 29, 2010 20:27 IST

iPad sets off excitement

Brad Stone
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NEVER SAY DIE: Apple CEO Steve Jobs presents the iPad at the Moscone Center in San Francisco on Wednesday. Photo: AP
AP
NEVER SAY DIE: Apple CEO Steve Jobs presents the iPad at the Moscone Center in San Francisco on Wednesday. Photo: AP

After months of speculation, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced on Wednesday night what the U.S. technology company Apple hopes will be the coolest device on the planet: a slender tablet computer called the iPad.

For all the hoopla surrounding it, however, the question is whether the iPad can achieve anything close to the success of the iPhone, which transformed the cellphone and forced the industry to race to catch up.

Apple is positioning the device, some versions of which will be commercially available in March, as a pioneer in a new genre of computing, somewhere between a laptop and a smartphone. “The bar is pretty high,” Mr. Jobs said.

With a thickness of just 1.25 cm and weighing 680 gm, the device will vividly display books, newspapers, websites and videos on a 24.3-cm glass touchscreen. Giving media companies another way to sell content, it may herald a new era for publishing.

But the iPad, costing $499 to $829 (about Rs.23,250 to Rs.38,600), lacks some features common in laptops and phones. To its instant critics, it was little more than an oversize iPod Touch. A camera is absent, and Flash, the software that handles video and animation on the Web, does not work on the device.

The event, in typical Apple style, was tightly scripted and heavy on theatrics. Mr. Jobs presented the iPad to an enthusiastic crowd of around 800 employees, business partners and journalists. It was only his second public appearance since an absence last year for health reasons. He posited that the iPad was the best device for certain kinds of computing such as browsing the Web, reading e-books and playing video.

The iPad “is so much more intimate than a laptop, and it’s so much more capable than a smartphone with its gorgeous screen,” he said.

One question is whether there is enough room for another device in the cluttered lives of consumers. “I think this will appeal to the Apple acolytes, but this is essentially just a really big iPod Touch,” said an analyst. He expects the iPad to cannibalise the sales of other Apple products. He said book-lovers would continue to opt for lighter, cheaper e-readers like the Amazon Kindle, while people looking for a small Web-ready computer would go for netbooks. — New York Times News Service

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