April 27: Surprising sceptics and confounding ground theorists, Apple today announced the launch of the iPad2 in India from April 29 at prices just Rs 2,000 more than those for the iPad1.
The launch comes a day after the iPad2 hit stores in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa, and the UAE. China will get a Wi-Fi version only in May.
The pricing is pretty nifty for the Wi-Fi models, with the 16GB device available at Rs 29,500. The 32GB Wi-Fi model will retail for Rs 34,500, and the 64GB model for Rs 39,500.
The Wi-Fi + 3G devices are slightly more expensive, with the 16GB model priced at Rs 36,900, the 32GB model at Rs 41,900, and the 64GB Model at Rs 46,900. All prices include the value-added tax.
Apples terrific pricing and timing strategy will give a tough time to competition, said Rajat Agrawal, executive editor of online technology portal BGR India.
In Calcutta, the devices will be available at Imagine —the authorised Apple retailer — which has stores at City Centre malls in Salt Lake and Rajarhat. A spokesperson for the Apple premium re-seller said he expected higher footfalls this weekend and hoped that it would translate into higher sales.
The iPad1 came to India in early January, nine months after its US launch. The delayed launch sparked criticism that Apple was treating India as a dumping ground for products that were clearly at the end of the product cycle.
Not any more.
Apples brand new tablet went on sale in the US on March 11. That it is coming to India within seven weeks signals that the $65-billion technology giant based in Cupertino, California, is changing its strategy in India.
Early birds in India who had forked out big premiums for devices sourced from the grey market or scalpers peddling the stuff through online sites like eBay may kick themselves for failing to outguess the honchos at Cupertino.
There are compelling reasons to opt for the iPad2.
Front and rear FaceTime cameras. Now many popular apps can be released for the iPad. Video chat apps on the iPad were not possible until now. Of course, you can also make FaceTime video calls to the millions of devices with FaceTime.
Easier to carry: iPad2 features an entirely new design that is 33 per cent thinner and up to 15 per cent lighter than the original iPad. The aluminium frame around the outside has been reduced to an almost invisible edge. The front is a sheet of glass surrounded by a bezel available in black and white.
Faster graphics performance. With up to nine times better graphics performance, apps, especially games, can now support really stunning spectacles.
Faster processing performance. The iPad2 features Apples new dual-core A5 processor for blazing fast performance and stunning graphics. From more speedy interaction to improved loading times, the dual-core processor is really a noticeable change. All this is delivered with up to 10 hours of battery life.
iMovie. Only the iPad2 will be able to run the tablet version of Apples popular video-editing software, iMovie. This app changes everything for video editors, allowing them to edit videos on the go without skipping a beat. A full-fledged Photoshop app is on the anvil.
Indias tablet PC market is estimated at one lakh a year, which will see a steady growth of 20 per cent as high-speed data through 3G and Wi-Fi penetration gather pace. Globally, Apple sold over 15 million units of the original iPad in less than a year.
Experts say Apple doesnt have a serious competitor in the tablet market yet. Samsungs new Galaxy Tab will be available in India only in June, while RIMs Playbook will come next month. However, reviews for the Playbook are not very encouraging, Agrawal said.
Japanese electronics giant Sony yesterday unveiled two tablet computers running Googles Android operating system. However, they will be available globally only in October-November and the official India launch is uncertain.
However, competition in India is not perturbed. Samsung, which has positioned its Galaxy Tab in the super smartphone category, expects 2011 and 2012 to be big years for the domestic tablet market and is ready with an Indian sales strategy.
Experts said the competition could start to heat up for Apple in 2012 when some players — probably companies such as Asus and Acer — play price warriors.