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