iPad finally hits SA
Arguably the most coveted gadget of 2010, Apple's iPad tablet computer has finally reached SA's shores and will go on sale today.
The Core Group, Apple's South African distributor, said yesterday that the device would be available at Apple iStores, as well as Incredible Connection and Dion Wired stores.
Both the WiFi and Wi-Fi + 3G versions will be available, with a starting retail price of R4 399 and R5 599, respectively.
Currently, none of SA's mobile operators are positioned to deliver the device. Vodacom says it will not retail the iPad at this stage, but will be a key supplier of connectivity for the 3G models.
MTN also confirmed it would not offer the device immediately, but noted it was in talks with Apple to make the device available to its customers at a later stage.
Cell C and 8ta do not have any distribution agreements in place with Apple.
Core Group communication manager Taryn Hyam explains that all mobile network agreements are negotiated directly with Apple, and so any iPad data or distribution agreements will be announced if and when they are reached.
Competitive pricing and innovative features have prompted analysts to predict a strong uptake of the device, despite its late local arrival.
The device was first expected in SA late last year, but Hyam explains that the delay is a result of a phased rollout commissioned by Apple. In fact, she says, the device will be going on sale for the first time in a few countries today, including India.
Apple first debuted the iPad in April last year and reported selling over 300 000 units on its first retail day.
However, WWW Strategy MD Steven Ambrose doubts we will see the same buying frenzy in SA as the overseas launches.
“There will be some excitement and an initial buying spree. However, the typical early adopters have been buying the iPad overseas, or from numerous grey market importers, since its launch last year,” he notes.
“You only have to go to any airport business lounge to get a sense of how many iPads are already in use in SA, and to see that most, if not all, of those who wanted one initially, have bought one already,” Ambrose explains.
Hyam argues that although the early adopters have made a plan to get the device ahead of the local launch, there are still many South Africans who have been anticipating the device and will want to get their hands on it now.
As such, she predicts a great uptake of the device over this weekend. Ambrose maintains that the fact it is now in local stores at a very competitive price bodes well and, in all likelihood, the iPad will be a good seller going forward.
Now talk of the next version of the iPad has emerged; however, Apple has not confirmed the speculation.
Ambrose does not believe that a possible iPad 2 will deter local sales at this stage. “The fact that a new version is imminent will do little to damp the enthusiasm of the local market for the iPad,” he states.
“The main reason for this is that the early adopters already have one and the next version will not hit our shores until at least September, which is a long time from now. The bulk of the prospective purchasers will not be too concerned that a new one is coming, as there is always a new model in the wings, and the current unit is pretty revolutionary in its own right.”
Hyam says talk of an iPad 2 is only a rumour and also doubts it will affect local sales of the iPad at this stage.