Redefining iPad 'Apps'

From buying wedding dresses in Tokyo to ordering pizza in Singapore, companies are redefining the concept of "iPad Apps" across the Asia-Pacific region.

Canny lateral thinkers from the tourism and hospitality sectors and beyond are finding innovative uses for Apple's new multimedia slab – including in counties where the device is not yet officially available.

Concierges at the InterContinental Hong Kong will use iPads to help guests select recommended local restaurants, performances and venues.

Meanwhile, Thai luxury hotel Anantara Phuket Resort and Spa has adopted a library-style iPad loaner system. Guests can book anything from spa treatments to boat trips via the high-tech in-house method – which Anantara plans to extend to all of its properties.

Japanese wedding firm Novarese Inc is using iPads to punt wedding dresses in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district. The firm's flagship store showcases clips of models sashaying in bridal sashes on the touch-screen tool, allowing potential buyers to scrutinize hemline flares in glossy, crystal-clear video.

They initially tried using laptops but found them too heavy, Kazuka Nohara told Reuters. "We also found something unexpected," she added.

"Grooms are now more proactive in selecting a wedding dress."

From emasculating previously iron-cast patriarchal traditions, it seems even the sky is not the limit for Apple's new consumer durable. From mid-June, Australian budget airline Jetstar will tryout the gadget as in-flight entertainment.

For AUD$10 (US$8.30) passengers will be able to rent iPads preloaded with movies, TV programs, eBooks, music and games.

Restaurants, too, are salivating over the teccie tablet's potential. Pizza Capers, Australia's fastest-growing pizza franchise, which recently opened in Singapore, uses them to take customer orders from multiple locations – which shoot directly to its chefs.

"The new iPads can be used as a point-of-sale terminal but staff can also bring them out from behind the counter to take orders from customers in the queue or in the dining area, making them super convenient," Pizza Capers' co-founder Scott Geizler told FOODweek Online.

The company – which plans further expansion into Southeast Asia – is also developing an Apple application that will let impatient diners jump the queue.

Unable to meet rapacious worldwide demand, Apple delayed the iPad's global rollout. A costly miscalculation, considering three-fifths of the company's revenue comes from outside the U.S. – while China's bustling grey market launched a cheaper, rival "shanzhai" copycat on the very same day as the iPad's US launch.

The iPad is now "officially" available in Japan – with Hong Kong, Singapore and other neighboring markets expecting to start selling licensed editions in July.

However, whether by using eBay or some shady online shipping agency, tech-heads desperate enough are already fondly stroking and poking their iPads, wherever they happen to be.

-- Submitted to Travel+Leisure,  2010


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