I had heard so much about it, but seeing it first-hand was amusing in a way. The crowd at the Apple Store in Chicago’s Michigan Avenue was the kind you see in India for the “first-day-first-show” of Bollywood movies. And I went in to have my first “darshan” of the iPad on the day it hit stores across the US.
The slick-looking tablet computer does have a stunning screen, and, as I walked past the eager salespeople sporting bright blue T-shirts, I spotted an Indian face stylishly signing, “Ashish” on the touchscreen interface as he tested out the product he had just bought.
It turns out that Ashish Rangnekar, a graduate of IIT, Mumbai, is a business school student at Chicago by day, and an application developer on the side for usage on Apple devices. He runs Watermelon Express, which has already developed 66 applications to run on Apple’s iPhone, and plans to migrate the apps to the iPad platform. “The iPad can transform education,” he says with evangelist zeal.
Watermelon buys rights from publishers of educational content and adapts that for the iPad and other devices. For example, Rangnekar says, a student can do part of his tutorial tests on the iPhone when he is at a meeting and then finish it off on an iPad when preparing for the IIT entrance or GMAT (US business school) admissions.
Theoretically, you can do a lot of what you do on the iPad on the netbooks (thin, Internet-friendly laptops), but the iPad is even lighter with its cool-looking slate appeal. It is more portable than a Netbook, but easier on the eye and fingers than the iPhone or other smartphones.
The thing to note is that iPad has wi-fi connectivity and will soon have 3G capabilities. The focus should be on the interactive applications and the media streaming (such as e-books, live concerts or online videos and games) that iPad can proliferate.
No wonder, the respected Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, last week doubled to $200 million the size of its iFund, which aims to finance developers of applications for the iPhone it created two years ago. By extension, that applies to the iPad. The annual market for iPhone applications is estimated at $2 billion (Rs 9,000-crore plus) and one estimate puts the market for tablet applications at $8.2 billion by 2015.