Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Does the iPad make sense in India?

Despite heavy prices (post import duty, octroi etc.) and lack of iTunes store in India, many Indians are hardcore Apple enthusiasts. I count several of them among my friends and colleagues.

Given the worldwide hype over iPad and its phenomenal launch sales figure, it seems hard on us that this beautiful device makes so little sense to buy today.

Apple has wisely decided not to launch the iPad in India right now, but you can order one through international shipping - or of course, you could pick up one on your travels abroad. But does it make sense? Here are some serious cons that you should consider:

1. Without any USB or other interface, the only way to get your content onto the iPad is off the Internet. It offers a choice of Wi-fi and 3G connectivity. Now I had mentioned tentative 3G launch date in India in a previous post- it's in October 2010. So basically, you are dependant on Wi-Fi. With so few wi-fi hotspots even in a city like Mumbai, you will probably end up using it in home or office. It also will not work with EVDO technology (Tata Photon or Reliance Net Connect). And since the iPad is basically a device to browse and access online content, it makes little sense to use it unless you enjoy constant connectivity.

2. For 3G connectivity, the iPad uses a Micro Sim. I don't know too much about them, except that they are NOT the standard SIM cards that we use in cellphones in India. And unless the telcom operator supports microsims, you cannot use 3G on your iPad. Incidentally, all earlier versions of iPhone do not have a microsim. Hypothetically this means that the moment 3G services start in India, you can access it through your iPhone, but possibly not your iPad. Not unless the telcos introduce microsims and given how far we lag behind the West, I wonder if that would really be a priority.
3. Pluggd.in reports that the iPad price in India (inclusive taxes and international shipping) will range from Rs. 32000 (16 GB) to Rs.44000 (64 GB). That puts the price squarely in the range of performance notebooks rather than netbooks. And it's a stiff price, even for a gadget lover.


For an excellent, balanced assessment of the iPad, I recommend reading Charlie Sorrel's post on Wired.com

Given all this, I am curious to know how many Indians would still want to buy an iPad?