While Apple iPads may be flying off the shelves south of the border, analysts suggest the hotly anticipated device will have a tougher challenge when it hits the Canadian market later this month.
Part of the uphill battle comes down to content. That's because what many American users might find appealing about Apple's new touch-screen tablet device may be exactly what Canadian users won't be able to see, in particular, the books, television shows and other applications.
Deloitte technology analyst Duncan Stewart said one of the biggest setbacks Canadian users might find at the outset may already be a familiar pet peeve on the internet.
"If you've ever been sent a link from a U.S. friend saying 'Hey, [watch] this cool comedy clip,' half the time it doesn't work north of the border," Stewart said.
It comes down to domestic licensing and copyright ownership, a glitch in the technological revolution that has hindered the speed that many Canadians adopt new devices, whether it's the iPod or streaming television over the internet.
Canadians were years behind Americans when it came to both of those technologies, partly because there just wasn't enough content to make using them worthwhile at first.
Similar lockouts and a drought of content could face Canadian users in the early days of the iPad, after it debuts here in late April, Stewart suggested.
"If iPads are available in Canada this month, it doesn't mean that the content for the iPads will also be available at the same time," he said.
Canadian firms struggle to keep up
The relatively fast pace of the iPad's debut has left some Canadian companies scrambling to come up with solutions to get their content on the portable screens.
Toronto Star spokesman Bob Hepburn said the newspaper is in the process of creating a program that will display its content in an iPad-friendly format, in an application quite similar to that of the New York Times. He said it is unlikely the app will be ready for the iPad's Canadian launch.
Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail already has a program that will convert its stories into a format intended for both iPhones and iPads.
The case was similar last year when Amazon's Kindle made its Canadian debut with hardly any Canadian content available. Even authors like Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro had only a handful of titles available in the early days.
Over the weeks and months after the Kindle's debut more titles began to appear for Canadian shoppers, but licensing issues still keep some titles from making their way onto the domestic version of the device.
On Apple's Canadian iTunes store, licensing issues prevent some popular entertainment content from being available. While most music releases are available on both sides of the border, mainstream movies and especially television shows are not necessarily available in Canada.
Popular U.S. cable series like the second season of TNT's Southland and Leverage sell on the U.S. iTunes, but if you try to buy them in Canada, it's as if they don't exist.
Carmi Levy, an independent technology analyst, suggests that it will take even more time for some of these licensing issues to be ironed out and for Canadian consumers to warm to another new device.
"Like the iPod, I would expect it to start slowly and build and accelerate over time," he said.
In the U.S., Apple devotees were willing to queue up across the country to be among the first to own an iPad, even if they weren't exactly sure what they'd end up using it for. The models currently on sale connect to the internet using Wi-Fi; prices start at $499 US. A second wave of buyers may emerge when Apple starts selling versions that can also get online using cellular networks; those models start at $629 US.
A specific release date in late April and prices for the Canadian iPad have not been announced.