April 19, 2010
Some University Networks Cool to iPad
Apple's iPad customers have had generally a good ride with the first batch of product reaching their hands. There have been a few hiccups. Individuals reported that that their immediate experience was that some units had problems with wi-fi connectivity. The cause came down to how the wireless connection was externally configured. Those who travel overseas with an iPad best not take theirs to Israel, lest it be confiscated. The iPad broadcasts it's Wi-fi signal with a higher power than that of Israeli networks. There is concern that the iPad could disrupt communications, though there is criticism of that rationale. Nonetheless, customs has seized 20 or so units at airports.
Now there are reports that a few universities are blocking iPad access to their campus networks. IT departments cite disruption to the networks or other incompatibilities as the reason. The Washington Postmentions three, George Washington, Cornell, and Princeton where users are blocked or the device is not supported. The education market has traditionally been a staple for Apple. Get them on Apple products when they're young and have a reason to use them productively and they will be disposed to keep buying Apple. The iPad is another product where marketing can take advantage of student preferences.
The added attraction of an iPad to a student is its potential as an electronic textbook/library. It remains to be seen whether publishers will prepare texts for the device. What will drive that is how many devices are in use and what rights management Apple can offer for copies. The campus connectivity problem is a glitch to Apple in that context even though three is a tiny number compared to the number of educational institutions out there. I wrote about Seton Hill previously offering iPads and MacBooks to students. The Post mentions the price for all of this is a $500 raise in the technology fee and the need for the school to quadruple its bandwidth and extend its network campus wide. Larger institutions may already be prepared for the iPad. We'll have to see as more people carry the iPad as their portable Internet. Campus IT departments are advised to prepare for the wi-fi onslaught of Windows, Chrome, Android, Linux, etc. based tablets if the Apple product takes off. They are coming, like it or not. [MG]