Marketing Planet

Apple’s Tablet: thou shalt be iPad .... or not

Apple launches the iPad.

The news of a super tablet to make reading more comfortable was awaited since long. Indeed, the 2010 Keynote of Apple should bring the newest tendency and modify the way of living as only Apple – as it seems – is able to do so. Romours were ongoing since a while: geeks were dreaming of the newest invention, editors and media companies seemed to be in serious negotiations already as to be included by Apple, and many marketing and IT experts were predicting the next Apple move.

From a stone tablet to a digital tablet

Reading yesterday’s tweets and listening to the information on radio, television and internet, Apple does not seem to have invented the new hype on the product itself, that’s according to the geeks (the IT experts). The generalists however are still “wowed†by whatever move Apple makes and this one included. They say “take the iPod Touch, make it much bigger, but thin as 1 cm and you can read everything on it in an easy way. According to them it should modify the way we were reading internet.

According to Steve Jobs, who started by showing an image of the known stone tablets, the new product positions itself between a smart phone and a laptop and is the missing link between both. It should therefore be better on the key elements of both. In Apple terms this means: browsing the web, emails, view photos, watch videos, listen to music, play your games and … read books. This does also mean that it does not have the telephone function; well, one can say that Skype may do the rest …..

Positioning

Apple aims to stress on the flexibility of its products: maximum technology with liberating arts and the possibility to have external developers provide applications. For this use, a special SDK is already proposed on the Apple website. Let’s be honest, the Apple products are also a success thanks to this input from external applications. To motivate these external developers – essential to the success of this tablet - the Keynote showed us some developers explaining how cool it was to work on the new possibilities. Even the New York Times was being represented. As the first products should be available in 60 days from Keynote date, external developments for dedicated applications might immediately be proposed.

Whereas on one side they open spaces for external input, on the other hand however Apple wishes to increase there single entry point they have started with iTunes Store. The launching of iBooks Store is a direct confrontation with Amazon. Time will show how it develops, but their negotiations with 5 publishers (eg. Penguin, Harper&Collins, Hachette) that could be announced directly shows their ambitions and their current negotiation strength.

Another partnership that is important success factor for Apple is the carrier as to use the browsing facilities. In the US a deal is signed with AT&T, other may follow according to success and terms. On international levels, negotiations are to start.

Apple may play big by wishing to be the single entry point, but needs its partners to join in as to make it a success.

Branding difficulty

Whereas Apple has managed to become a high tech company with a good innovative sense of product names, this time they seem to have forgotten about a detail. Since the Keynote launched the product name iPad, Twitter has been experiencing traffic jams with #tampon and other like names as to illustrate the confusion and astonishment about the unmistakable association with monthly periods. A lot of people wonder if there are no women in their marketing department.

For those who want to have a better understanding of the association of the word iPad with the feminine hygiene product the urinary incontinence, I advice to read the following article from shoppingblog : Women Horrified by iPad’s Ridiculously Inappropriate Name and the YouTube video that explains even better Youtube.com Apple I-Pad video

There is different possibilities : might be any reaction from Apple, or if it all calm down, or was this the buzz they were hoping for and was it all on purpose? (In which case it worked).

Ambition

The new tablet, comes with some accessories enabling it be more easily used with a digital photo screen, and a doc for the keyboard. If you put it all together, Apple is very ambitious with the new product and competes not only his direct competitors but also his next market and his own products. They confirm their capacities to use their technology which is rather user friendly; the tactile part and software part are indeed good. Maybe their bet on combining different products into their iPad succeeds but it may also be risky.

From a practical point of view, according to the size of you bag, you will not easily take your tablet to the café to show the pictures, be at ease in a crowded metro to read, or have the right connection with internet. Because it positions in-between the laptop and the Smart phone it needs to confirm its usefulness and be more than a gadget. Another point, time will tell if they are too ambitious in wanting to become the single entry point for all media activities. Their approach starts to look like the way Microsoft proceeded some years ago to position themselves “unavoidable†and what Apple defended at that time.

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