First iPad rental service booms

MADRID -- The world's first iPad rental service, PadInTheCity, expands worldwide and to tourism and service industries. Also designs first portable iPad lock.
Written by Jennifer Riggins, Contributor

MADRID -- PadInTheCity offers customers the convenience of an iPad on the road, whether they are traveling for business or pleasure. The first of its kind, PadInTheCity became a pioneer for iPad rental businesses, when it began ten months ago.

At the start of this year, co-founder and CTO Francisco Peña read in an in-flight magazine that Australia's Jetstar airline was renting iPads to passengers during the flight. Peña asked himself "Why deprive them of the experience once the tourist arrives at its destination?" With that idea, Peña and his partner CEO Juan Gomez formed the first iPad rental company, which was originally directed at tourists visiting Madrid.

"We offer an enhanced experience of the city through a rented iPad, equipped with everything necessary for tourists or business travelers," Gomez said.

Starting out with ten, their company has grown to having more than 250 iPads for rent in less than a year.

It costs 25 euros (about 35 dollars) a day to rent. PadInTheCity also places a "hold" on your credit card with a guarantee of 390 euros (about 540 dollars,) which is lifted when the iPad is returned. They deliver to and pick up the iPad from the locations designated by the customer.

"This is the first idea to rent iPads to tourists in the world," said Gomez.

Gomez said that they found no other iPad rental company before theirs, though one of their first customers started one two weeks later. Gomez did not seem to mind, as he paraphrased in his native Spanish that imitation is the best form of flattery.

PadInTheCity's current focus is on customers in three areas: tourism, hotels and events.

About 30 iPads were rented out to tourists on the day SmartPlanet sat down with Gomez. The tourist iPads include applications for entertainment and games, local and major English and German newspapers, travel information like hotel and flight check-ins and rent-a-car services, and general services, like currency converters.

PadInTheCity has rental contracts with some Madrid-based hotels and is in negotiation with others worldwide. These iPads have similar functionalities as the tourist ones, but also have particular hotel branding. They include apps customized for the individual hotel clients, such as wake-up calls and house-keeping, as well as office-related apps for guests traveling on business. Hotel management can rent the iPads out to their guests or can include them in suite and luxury packages.

On the same day, they also had over 100 iPads out at various conferences in Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Stockholm and Bilbao, Spain. These event iPads come equipped for slideshows and the possibility of applications PadInTheCity has developed for some of their clients' companies.

All of their iPads--a mix of iPads versions 1 and 2--have unlimited Internet access with Wi-Fi and 3G networks and come in leather cases. Customers have the ability to purchase or rent accessories, including television connectors and PadInTheCity's specially-designed lecterns, which are clear plastic stands on which to display the iPad.

In less than two weeks, PadInTheCity will begin selling, according to Gomez, the world's first portable lock for the iPad.

PadInTheCity is focused on expansion. Gomez said that, as soon as they released their company, they received requests for franchising. They also want to expand beyond the city of Madrid, as a shipping base. Currently, Gomez estimated that only 20-percent of their clients are Spanish. The vast majority are Americans, with the rest being French, German and British.

"Now only in Madrid, but our plan is to go to other cities, not only in Spain, but around the world--Lisbon, Paris, New York," Gomez said. "This year's a steep investment. In one or two years, we'll talk about profits."

They are looking for angel investors and venture capitalists, which are geared towards start-ups. PadInTheCity is also making efforts to work with the airline, cruise ship, education, train, and healthcare industries, among others.

"Places where people are bored," Gomez said. "In luxury and maybe not so luxury places."

He is sure of their increasing success, saying that their company is "growing ridiculously fast." He said they are currently in negotiation with two different airlines. They expect the sale of the locks to be very successful, and they are looking to expand their business in all areas surrounding the iPad, including applications custom-designed for their new and existing clients.

PadInTheCity is not affiliated with Apple. When their company began, however, Apple received many calls about the service, leading to a "forwarding shared customer e-mails" relationship.

Gomez finished talking with SmartPlanet by saying in his native Spanish, "The future (of our company) seems very nice and, while ambitious, we are persistent. Entrepreneurs do this because we like it and it gives us life. I think that is the secret that drives us."

Photo: PadInTheCity

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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