Apple's iPad To Hit Stores This Week

All Tech Considered

The iPad — part iPod, part laptop — hits stores this week. Omar Gallaga, who covers technology culture for the Austin American-Statesman, says software developers and media companies are eager to gain from the device.

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NOAH ADAMS, host:

Another piece of technology likely to make a big impact on campuses, Apple's new iPad. Part iPod, part laptop, the much anticipated iPad finally hits stores this week.

And for more, I'm joined, as we are on most Mondays, by Omar Gallaga. He covers technology culture for the Austin American-Statesman and for ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Omar, welcome to the program.

OMAR GALLAGA: Hi, Noah, thanks for having me.

ADAMS: iPad at last. Lets start with the basics. When does it come to the stores and how much of a demand is there going to be?

GALLAGA: Well, the first version of the iPad, the non-3G Wi-fi version hits stores on Saturday. And this will be at Apple stores. And Apple just confirmed this morning that it will also be at most Best Buy stores. So they have been taking preorders on it and that initial run of preorders has already sold out. So if you were to preorder today, the earliest you would get it would be around April 12th.

And it looks like they've sold, the estimates are somewhere around 300,000 already. And I'm hearing estimates as high as six million of these might be sold in the first year.

ADAMS: Apple has demonstrated the video and the Internet capability of the iPad back when they announced it. Over the past two weeks, a lot of people have been coming forward with applications third party people with applications with the iPad. What do you know about them and how would they be different from what you can do with the iPhone?

GALLAGA: Well, all of the applications that run on the iPhone and the iPod Touch, the ones that don't require a camera or a 3G connection will work on the iPad. But we're going to see this whole new generation of applications specifically for the iPad that take advantage of this 9.7-inch screen, offer a lot more real estate on the screen for publishers' ads and more content alongside the video and photos. And developers are definitely trying to get a jump on this much more quickly than they did with the iPhone.

When the iPhone came out three years ago, it was a year before the app store was introduced and developers had a lot more time to kind of prepare for it. And this time, most developers that are developing apps for the iPad have never actually seen one or held one in their own hands. So it's a much more protracted time to develop these apps.

But I'm guessing that a lot of those 300,000 iPads that have already sold are going to be in the hands of developers. I bet a lot of developers are buying them and planning to start developing apps for it on day one.

ADAMS: Now, there could be a downside for Apple here. They got in trouble with the 3G iPhone because AT&T, that network was stretched so thin. IPad going to be exclusive to AT&T and if so, is there enough room there?

GALLAGA: At this time, we only know that the 3G version of the iPad, which is out later this month, will only be available for use on AT&T. But the way it's different from the iPhone is that you'll be able to pay month to month. You won't be tied to a two-year contract the way you would be with the iPhone.

Now, AT&T has been expanding its network. Definitely there's competition from Verizon and T-Mobile and other network providers and there is a possibility that there will be an iPad on these other networks. But what AT&T is also doing is they're letting people expand the network themselves. They're offering $150 device called a femtocell that you can put in your house that it's supposed to provide better coverage.

So, if you have this it's sort of almost like a mini cell phone tower for your home. But then, you know, to my mind, if you're paying $150 to help AT&T provide you the service they promise you in the first place, it seems like theres a little something wrong with that. There's also been apps that allow you to sidestep the AT&T network entirely for the iPhone. Line2 is an app that's been getting a lot of attention lately that basically provides you a new phone number and does voice calls over the Internet, as opposed to using AT&T's cell network.

So, it's been kind of love/hate for iPhone users with AT&T. But AT&T definitely putting out new products and other people are putting out new apps and services to try to kind of alleviate that problem.

ADAMS: Thank you, Omar.

GALLAGA: Thanks for having me, and we will have links to a lot of this iPad information. There's news rolling out seemingly every hour about it. We'll have that all on the All Tech Considered blog at NPR.org/alltech.

ADAMS: Omar Gallaga, who covers technology culture for the Austin American-Statesman most days and for us on Mondays on All Tech Considered.

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