Apple’s iPad muscles into corporate Asia after retail buzz

By Miyoung Kim

SEOUL, June 9 (BestGrowthStock) – Apple’s (AAPL.O: ) iPad, initially
viewed as a Web entertainment gadget for consumers, is quickly
making inroads across businesses in Asia as wedding planners,
luxury hotels and airlines hook up to the tablet computer.

Apple has sold over 2 million iPads since the device made
its debut in April in the United States. It had to delay the
international sale due to difficulty in meeting demand for the
product, which has received high marks for videos and games,
reading electronic books and general Web browsing.

“It’s strong adoption in Asia means iPad could become
another strong source of revenue for Apple and it would be not
just Asia as myriads of applications that iPad has would make
it possible for enterprises to offer personalized experience to
their customers,” said Lee Chae-gi, research director at
Gartner in Seoul.

Apple now gets almost three-fifths of its revenue outside
the U.S., and is counting on its base of fans who already own
an iPod, iPhone or Mac to add the iPad to their collection as
rivals line up with their own tablets. [ID:nTOE64Q08O]
[ID:nN31178032]

In Japan, wedding service firm Novarese Inc (2128.T: ) is
using iPads to help customers choose a wedding dress at its
flagship store in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district, and plans to
adopt iPads at seven other stores and its wedding ceremonial
halls.

The firm now shows customers video clips of models
strutting with dresses on the iPad, making it easier to see
things such as how a hemline flares.

“We once considered showing it to customers on laptops but
they are heavy. The iPad perfectly fits our demand,” said
company spokeswoman Kazuka Nohara. “We also found something
unexpected. Grooms are now more proactive in selecting a
wedding dress.”

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Graphic on iPad: http://link.reuters.com/ryb86k

Global shipments forecast: http://link.reuters.com/qyb86k

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InterContinental Hotels (IHG.L: ) is equipping concierges at
centres including Hong Kong, London and New York with iPads to
provide guests recommendations of restaurants, performances and
local destination videos.

“Whether it ultimately becomes a useful tool in a corporate
environment will depend on the ability of software developers
to adapt business software to the new style of interface,” said
Tim Renowden, an analyst at technology consultancy Ovum.

In Australia, Jetstar, the budget carrier of Qantas Airways
(QAN.AX: ), became one of the first airlines in the world to
announce it would offer iPad as part of in-flight
entertainment.

It plans to rent an iPad out from A$10 ($8.30), enabling
passengers to read e-books, play games and watch some
pre-selected movies and television programmes on flights.

Despite critics who question whether a true need exists for
such a gadget, analysts expect Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N: ), Dell
(DELL.O: ) and potentially Nokia (NOK1V.HE: ) and Sony (6758.T: ) and
others to trot out their own competing devices this year.

SPRAWLING APPLICATIONS

Apple has staked its formidable reputation on a 9.7-inch
touchscreen tablet with no clear-cut case for use other than
pure media consumption. Access to unique content and programs
on Apple’s universe of more than 150,000 applications has the
potential to drive tablet adoption.

Microsoft (MSFT.O: ) and Toshiba (6502.T: ) have launched
tablets that failed to take off in recent years.

The iPad is helping foster a market for tablet computers
that some analysts have forecast to grow to as many as 50
million units by 2014.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said there have already
been more than 35 million downloads of applications for the
iPad.

In Japan, Otsuka Pharmaceutical said it plans to buy 1,300
iPads for its sales representatives so they can use it to do
presentations more visually and with the latest information.

Restaurant Global Mundo Tapas in Sydney has replaced its
paper menus with digital versions on the iPad last week. It has
10 iPads and has ordered more, while technology firm MenuPad is
offering software which would allow restaurants to put their
menus on iPad devices.

Though the iPad has recently hogged the media limelight,
the iPhone remains Apple’s main growth driver.

On Monday, Apple unveiled a new iPhone that goes on sale in
scores of countries this year, preparing its fastest-ever
global roll-out to try and stay a step ahead of rivals such as
Google Inc (Read more about Google Stock Analysis) (GOOG.O: ) in a red-hot smartphone market.
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In South Korea, companies such as Doosan Corp (000150.KS: )
and Internet portal operator Daum Communications (035720.KQ: )
are subsidising purchases of iPhones, a move which could spark
more competition in the intensifying smartphone market.

Last month, Standard Chartered (STAN.L: ) (2888.HK: ) bankers
in Asia told Reuters the London-based lender was giving its
corporate Blackberry users the option of switching to the
iPhone, replacing RIM’s (RIMM.O: ) BlackBerry. [ID:nTOE64G06A]

Late comers such as Samsung are also targetting business
customers as a way to boost its smartphone shipments.
($1=1.209 Australian Dollar)

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(Additional reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo and Sachi Izumi in
TOKYO, Michael Smith and Narayanan Somasundaram in SYDNEY;
Editing by Anshuman Daga)

Apple’s iPad muscles into corporate Asia after retail buzz