From the Age Newspaper, Melbourne.
iPad invasion proves bitter-sweet
September 19, 2010
THEY call it a tablet, but four months after the Australian release of Apple’s iPad revolutionary touch-screen computer, the device’s popularity is proving a bitter pill for laptop sellers.
While it has been swiftly embraced by businesses as diverse as airlines and hospitals, the iPad is opening up new markets while cannibalising the cheaper end of the established computer market.
Qantas subsidiary Jetstar is the latest organisation to be considering a bulk order.
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Students, lawyers, sales reps and sporting clubs have embraced the device and 500 doctors in Victorian hospitals will be testing it next year.
Global iPad sales have topped 3 million. Brian Dunn, chief executive of US retailer Best Buy, said this week that the iPad ”had cannibalised sales from laptop PCs by as much as 50 per cent”. Netbooks, the ultra-small laptop-like devices, were hit particularly hard.
Apple refused to release Australian sales figures for the iPad, which observers estimate at about 200,000 so far. Apple spokeswoman Fiona Martin said that ”customers from every walk of life” had embraced the device.
Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway said the airline had successfully tested the iPad as an entertainment device on medium to long-haul flights and was negotiating with Apple for ”thousands” of the devices for its fleet after a month-long trial on the Melbourne-Gold Coast and Melbourne-Cairns routes in June.
Mr Westaway said the airline would buy thousands of iPads but they would not be offered on shorter routes such as Melbourne-Sydney because the short flight time did not make it worthwhile.
”For a domestic traveller it works, for an international traveller we think it’ll work too.” Mr Westaway said the iPad was an ideal choice to replace the airline’s portable video devices, which show movies, television, music videos and destination guides.
”We want a 2010 and beyond solution to portable inflight entertainment ”¦ We think it’ll be our most popular decision yet in terms of inflight entertainment.”
Jim Valle, managing director of Carlton-based Apple retailer Connecting Point, said Visy and Multiplex were among the other corporations he’d seen take orders for the iPad, but the education sector remained its biggest customer.
”Education’s really embraced the iPad in a very, very large way ”¦ the uptake’s mostly been in government schools,” he said.
Mr Valle said the Department of Education was considering purchasing thousands more iPads following the successful trial of 500 devices at seven high schools and the Royal Children’s Hospital education institute.
Ludi Servadei, year seven co-ordinator at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, said the free iPads provided as part of the state government’s trial had been an ”instant success”.
”It’s light, it’s portable, they can put it in their bags and no one can see that they’ve got it. Whereas with a [portable] computer it’s heavy.”
Ms Servadei said the iPad’s applications, in particular, were extremely popular. ”Keynote is a far easier program and a far friendlier program to use than Powerpoint,” she said.
Adam Blacklock, group sales manager with South Melbourne-based Computers Now, said sporting clubs had been among his customers, using the device for player reviews.
Melbourne-based barrister Tom Pikusa said barristers and solicitors, if not judges, had taken to the iPad far more quickly than smartphones or laptops.
”They have taken it up in large numbers, yes,” he said. ”A lot of people use it because it’s a great size and a nice screen – you can see the documents on there pretty well.”
Mr Pikusa said it was also a useful as a discreet communication device.
Mr Pikusa, who deals mostly with planning cases at VCAT in William Street, said the device’s size was its best feature.
”The portability of the iPad is the best thing. Rather than lugging folders and folders of stuff to court you can have it all on the iPad and readily available,” he said.
Mr Pikusa said about one barrister in 10 had an iPad, which he said was ”pretty quick” given the device had only been out four months.
In late July, the state government also announced 500 iPads would be given to graduate doctors and nurse practitioners for use in the state’s hospitals. The $500,000 program begins on January 1.
Already, as part of the state government iPad trial for schools, 20 iPads are being provided for the children at the Children’s Neuroscience Centre at the Royal Children’s Hospital.
The portable devices will facilitate the use of HealthSmart, the Victorian government’s health information technology programs, said Australian Medical Association Victoria Branch president Harry Hemley.
“iPads in hospitals will begin to solve computer access problems and allow doctors transportable access to clinical journals, online information and email,” he said.Leave a reply →