The iPad in Europe (the English speaking part at least)

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of posts exploring the reception–and potential impact, of the iPad in locations other than the good ole USA. In today’s entry, Eoin Purcell chimes in from Ireland. ~ Kat Meyer

EoinPurcell-1.jpgIt can be hard to envision the impact a device will have when you have only demo videos and second hand reports of it. When it comes to the iPad, Europe is operating in something of a vacuum. A smattering of tweets about sightings in the wild, a few twitpics from lucky (or eager) mac fans and the odd blog post from tech heads who couldn’t wait a few months and so had units shipped from the US were the only real evidence that the iPad was available to anything other than technology journalists and Apple developers in Ireland and the UK.

There are now dozens of videos displaying what look like impressive apps and concepts for apps not to mention reviews of good and bad iPad apps all of which mean very little when you have nowhere to see them in action. But despite the fact that the device itself is thin on the ground, speculation, rumour and preparations are rife. The trend in reviews from those who have the device here suggests some issues if people are planning to use the device for reading while commuting.

Whereas the iPod Touch/iPhone is a joy for a commuter with it’s slim profile and easy to hold for extended periods, the iPad is a weighty 1.5 pounds! Most don’t feel this is too much of a problem and think the device more suited to the home anyway.

Apple disappointed those of us waiting for the international release of the iPad when they announced that because of the success of the device in the US, they were delaying the release until the end of May and the pricing information until the 10 May.

Even when they do release the device to foreign customers, Apple will do so without the critical (at least to book publishers) iBooks app and iBookstore. At least when Amazon’s Kindle rolled out, books could be bought directly on the device from Amazon, on the iPad, international users will need to use third party apps or directly purchase books apps on iTunes.
The London Book Fair would have been the perfect opportunity for Irish and UK publishing types to get their hands on the device for a short while anyway. But it was not to be, volcanic ash cloud interrupted the travel plans of most Americans.

There seems to be a real sense of belief in the iPad as a new space for content. Maybe I’m too skeptical for my own good, but while I see money to be made, a new space seems a stretch too far for my view.
I was fortunate enough to see one in real form this week and while I was impressed by the elegance and by the simplicity, I was struck too by the heaviness. I find myself wanting it without a good reason. My iPod Touch is more than good enough for my mobile entertainment needs, including but certainly not limited to reading, and my Macbook does the job for work needs. I’m looking forward to the pricing though and who knows, maybe I’ll crack and buy one.

Bio: Eoin Purcell (@eoinpurcell) lives and works in Dublin, Ireland. He is a publishing industry analyst and commentator. He runs Green Lamp Media, a publishing and publishing services company. He also edits Irish Publishing News.

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