Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Brilliance That is iPad Marketing

Let me preface this post with the knowledge that I own neither an iPad nor an iPad2. I am the proud owner of an iPhone and an iPod, and my employer provides me with a second iPhone for business purposes. Apple certainly does not need me to promote their latest offering and truth be told I am nowhere near the charismatic showman that Steve Jobs is.
Apple announced the launch of the iPad2 less than one year after the release of the original iPad.  It is thinner, it is faster and it has a camera. All of these things should have been included on the original iPad. So how did the product gurus at Apple miss them? And how is it that the media have left them off the hook for launching a clearly inferior product last year?
Regardless of all of this I just happen know of one person who is a middle-aged technology neophyte with no smartphone, who rarely checks email and who has no presence on Facebook or Twitter. They hate computers really. And guess what? More than anything they believe that they NEED an iPad! When pressed why, this person states that they will use apps (I am not sure they even know what an app is but the concept is alluring) and that it will make their life easier. The TV commercials with the catchy music and cool apps showcased have worked their magic!
The marketers at Apple have created a technology that is so far ahead of the competition, and that is more affordable than the competition that people just want it. How did they manage this?
Apple is (or was at least) the Beta vision of the personal computer. I have owned many versions of Macs over the years and generally paid a significant premium to own and use what I believed to be a superior product. I recommended the iMac to my parents (who now own two!) and they were die-hard Windows users for years. How was Apple able to avoid the fate that almost every believed they were destined to, extinction?
It started with the iPod and iStore. Apple created a new industry with this and pretty much owned it (and still do). Next came the iPhone and Apple became a serious player in an existing product category overnight. The convergence of these technologies allowed the visionary that is Steve Jobs to dream about a tablet – the iPad. The revenues from sales at the iStore are high margin as there is not a whole lot of R&D that now gets applied to the iStore.
Another thing Apple does extremely well is manage supply against demand. They build hype around a product, announcing it will be available in a week (or month). The people line up in droves to buy it and then they run out before everyone is satisfied. This creates more demand as potential buyers decide to buy as soon as there are more available just so they do not have to wait too long.
Then there is the cool factor. Let’s face it, Apple products are cool. The real reason I have an iPhone isn’t because it is a great phone, it’s because it is a cool product that does a lot for me and it is a phone.
For all technology neophytes out there, you do not NEED an iPad; you WANT an iPad because you have been sold the “cool” factor. You really need to learn to determine the difference. But don’t worry, once you have your new iPad2 you quickly discover there is an app for that too.

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