Apple coy on Aussie iPad

Questions remain over the suitability of the device for enterprise.

Apple's iPad

Apple's iPad

Apple is keeping mum on the local release date of its iPad tablet and the models Australians will receive when the tablet finally hits our shores.

The infamously reticent company wouldn't say if the second generation 3G model, which it will release in the US around April, will be the first iPad sold in Australia. Nor would it say when it will release details about a local shipment date.

Instead, a company spokesperson pointed to the international release date set for March.

The iPhone took about year to reach Australia in the form of the 3G-ready model.

That device proved an outstanding hit in consumer circles, but its management proven painful for some enterprise CIOs.

Red Cross IT director, Warren Don, said the iPhone was not geared to the enterprise but penetrated IT shops as staff demand for the device reached fever pitch.

"I tried to resist it as long as possible but demand for the fashion accessory increased," Don said. The organisation has purchased about 50 iPhones for its staff.

"They all need to be updated through iTunes individually [and] if a problem occurs, support staff need to take them to an Apple shop... and if they are bricked they are too small to work as a boat anchor."

Application integration and security are still problems associated with iPhone deployment in the enterprise, Don said, and its regular email fetching settings meant the organisation has had to upgrade its broadband plan.

The suitability of the iPad to the enterprise remains a mystery, but the company has it placed in the consumer sector as less than a laptop, but with more functionality than a smartphone — leading some to compare it to a "giant iPod Touch".

The iPad is priced at $US499 for a 16GB version and is set to ship worldwide in two months.

iPad features include the ability to browse the Web and listen to music, with photo, calendar, and maps applications. It will work with the iTunes store to let users discover and purchase music, movies and TV shows.

When the iPad is turned sideways, it orients the view for the user.

Like the iPhone, the iPad has a virtual keyboard. It is about half an inch thick, weighs 1.5 pounds, has a 9.7-inch display, and offers internal storage option capacities of 16GB, 32GB or 64GB. The device is powered by Apple’s custom silicon, a 1GHz A4 chip. Wireless features include 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology.

A built-in iPod and iTunes store lets users scroll through albums to play songs as well as sample tunes, while calendar, contact and address applications let users track personal events and other data.

Apple is also announcing iPhone SDK development to support the iPad. Developers can download the SDK at Apple's Web site to get going, Jobs noted.

Apple has also been working with a variety of content partners, including game developers like Gameloft.

Martin Nisenholtz from The New York Times said it has developed an application for the iPad which he said was designed to bring the best of the print and digital worlds together.

The application lets users click through sections and call up specific articles. "It captures the essence of reading newspapers," Nisenholtz said, noting that the application displays a "very newspaper-like layout." But unlike a newspaper, the iPad application can show a snapshot of the latest updates from different sections on a different page.

All iPhone apps will work on the iPad.

With Greg Keizer

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