iPad may just be a fad in India

There’s a lot of sense in the rationale of the latter, especially given the history of products that the second coming of Steve Jobs has seen. But as it stands, will the iPad work, and more importantly, will it work for you and me sitting in the stepchild land of consumer electronics? Will it really be the computing device...for the rest of us? Let us look at it from various angles of usage.

Ebooks … Not as yet: India is just about warming up to eBook readers, and this despite Amazon’s less than rupee-friendly pricing for content. With the iPad, Apple announced support for ebooks via the iBooks app, and many pronounced it to be the death knell in the Kindle’s short existence in the country. Though it may be too soon to celebrate - for a number of international editions, India included, iBooks and eBooks aren’t even mentioned on the features page.

This may well be a matter of time, while Apple inks deals with international publishers, but it is still troubling, given that it took Amazon a couple of years to iron out these twists. Plus, given the pathetic state of affairs on content distribution - India does not even have an iTunes store for Apple to retail music and movies - I won’t be surprised if iBooks gives the subcontinent a miss altogether.

No Flashing please, we are Indian: To be honest, lack of flash support on the iPhone didn’t bother me as much. For a consumption device relying mostly on poor and expensive wireless data connections, I’d happily forgo all those bandwidth-hungry videos and games. But lets be realistic - for a web browsing device like iPad to ignore the most popular format for web video and web games is plain foolish, and a dealbreaker for many here.

Open-Close Case: The iPad only runs applications from the App Store, yes that’s the same App Store that is notorious for banning apps for no apparent reason - just ask Google.

Not to mention, a distinctively dollar-friendly pricing for most games and apps. Now, in a country fraught with software piracy, are you actually telling me that making it difficult to get your app of choice on to your daily primary computing device is a good thing? What’s troublesome about the iPad is that it’s much closer to a ‘real’ computer than the iPhone is. Docked in with the keyboard accessory, and it’s really a low-powered laptop/netbook. And yet this is a computer over which you have absolutely no control. Apple should open up the applications model to allow applications that users can install at their own risk. Till then, if you don’t like the browser on your iPad, iLump it.

Long live PC: If you thought that the iPad could service all those folks who don’t need a PC (personal computer) and all its headaches and tech support (your parents/grandparents, for example), think again. Want to transfer music and photos onto the iPad? You need the PC.

Want to convert those DVDs and videos to play correctly on the iPad? Yep, PC again. There’s no memory card slot or USB port to pull images off your camera card or pen drive. Long live the netbooks/laptops/PCs - the iPad cannot replace them. Worse, you cannot watch a movie or a video directly from a CD/DVD because iPad does not have CD-ROM drive. So, once again, the only option is to download the movie in a compatible format using a PC or a laptop

This baby can’t multitask: Aren’t we inherently all multi-taskers, picking up the phone and calling someone while typing out an e-mail?

Why should our devices not be? Is it unreasonable for me to listen to streaming music and surf the web at the same time? Or chat on the internet and keep checking my e-mail? But no multitasking on the iPad is a deal breaker as it stands and the younger generation is not going to be very kind to this shortcoming.  

Look Ma, no wires: 3G looks to be bleaker in India with each passing day, and the micro
SIM that gives the iPad the freedom to connect wirelessly, isn’t even available in India for the users. There’s no support for tethering your phone with the device to use the phone’s EDGE or GPRS service, so if you’re out and about much, you’re out of luck, unless if you enter a hotspot where Wi-Fi connection is available.

Yet, the iPad has a lot going for it when it comes to our shores in a couple of months. It’s intensely usable and gaming should rock on it, and let’s not forget its characteristically drop-dead gorgeous design aesthetic. Notice, if you will, that most of the flaws are stuff that can, and will be, fixed in the software over a period of time. That may make many take a bite into Apple iPad.

(The writer is a free lance technology journalist.)

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