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'Kazakh iPad' Planned

The iPad makes its way to Central Asia.

The iPad makes its way to Central Asia.

No one knows what the future of government will look like, but it will likely be found on an Apple iPad. iPads taped to sticks have been used by political protestors in Lithuania, to train British soldiers for Afghanistan, and as a campaign ploy by a savy Australian politician. Perhaps most famously, the prime minister of Iceland ran his country from an iPad while trapped overseas during the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull.

As a recent article in "The Daily Telegraph" points out, the latest convert to the Apple iPad is Kazakhstan’s Prime Minster Karim Massimov. Tired of receiving tardy messages from ministers, he lectured his staff at a meeting in October, encouraging them all to get tablet computers: "I can send you a message anytime, and, as some of you know, I aim to reply within 10 minutes. Some of you have not replied to me for three days."

The iPad rapidly became a symbol of loyalty to the government of President Nursultan Nazarbaev. Kazakh bureaucrats scrambled to stores in Astana and Almaty to buy the new gadget.

Now Arta, an Astana-based software company, has announced a “Kazakh iPad." The device will come with a USB port and a camera and will cost $500, compared to the $1,200 "non-Kazakh" iPad. While the iPad aims at general consumers (think YouTube and Facebook users), Arta's chief executive Bolat Basheyev hopes to target the device at businesspeople (think Quicken and Excel users).

-- Joseph Hammond

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at