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Government agencies embrace the iPad

by Paris Cowan •
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Most jurisdictions in Australia, including the Commonwealth, appear to be experimenting with the use of iPads

Victoria has embraced the Apple-manufactured tablet with the most vigour, announcing 500 iPads for schools in May, and then following this up with another 500, which are to be introduced into the State’s hospitals by January.

Queensland has started more modestly with 50 of the devices, which are to be trialled in two public schools.  Another 30 are headed to classrooms in Tasmania for a similar scheme. Independent trials are also said to be taking place in Western Australian schools.

And in an initiative that is sure to make their interstate peers seethe with envy, science students at the University of Adelaide have been promised an iPad each upon enrolment.

The Federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) is thus far the only agency keeping up with the zeitgeist, acquiring 40 64GB iPads from Canberra Apple reseller MAC1, in 2 separate contracts in August and September 2010.

Although these contracts in the different jurisdictions relate to relatively small numbers of devices, if the initial use of the devices is successful, larger supply contracts are likely to follow.

IntermediumManaging Director Judy Hurditch says it is too early to tell whether these small initial deals are the harbinger of a new market and if the move to iPads and similar devices will cannibalise the existing laptop sector.

 “We must remember that these devices cannot be used for word processing, which is pretty fundamental in both the education and the broader public sector,” she said.

According to Intermedium data, the Federal Government entered into $24,367,489 worth of laptop supply contracts in the 2009-10 financial year, with Defence and Defence DMO being the biggest procurers.

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