David Prosser: Apple likes to keep the world waiting


Outlook Do we believe Apple when it says the reason for the month's delay of the international launch of its iPad is that it underestimated demand for the devices in the US? There's nothing Apple likes better than stories about punters falling over themselves to secure its oh-so-iconic products and this feels a little like stage management. After all, Apple has been receiving pre-orders for the iPad for months now, so it doesn't have any excuse for not knowing how many to make.

Nor is it clear why it is taking so long to announce pricing details for Europe – either for the iPad itself, or for the tariffs that the networks will operate for customers who buy the things. We know now that Vodafone, Orange and O2 will all offer a pricing plan for iPad customers – unlike with the iPhone, where Apple's strategy was an exclusivity deal with a single network in each marketplace – but not what the tariffs will be.

Whatever the price, there are likely to be frustrations for Britons once they get their hands on an iPad. The early reports are that Wi-Fi versions of the device do not always work as well as one might hope. The 3G upgrade, coming soon in the US, will be better in areas where 3G service is strong, but this country's network coverage does not yet always live up to the claims that providers make. Strong sales of iPads may stretch those networks further.

For Apple to succeed in its iPad mission – effectively to create a new niche in the computing-cum-mobile device market – it needs to achieve critical mass very quickly. A month's delay for the international launch won't be a problem, but early iPad adopters may have to put up with some growing pains as network providers and others strain to keep up with Apple's ambition.

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