Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More iPad Thoughts

As I look over the information coming out of Apple's iPad presentation, I'm struck more by the potential of the product than its current capabilities. Others are already talking about what they don't like about the iPad. Most of the problems that are noted are easily solved by software updates.

The iPad reminds me very strongly of the iPhone launch. It was a sleek, sexy device, but there wasn't a whole lot it did right off the bat (aside from nifty web browsing on a phone). It wasn't until Apple finally decided to allow independent app developers to go nuts in their online store, and new features came out in both hardware and software, that the iPhone really took off. (Yes, lower price points helped, too.) The initial iPhone was more about potential than actuality.

Then, as now, most of the tech-types focused on more of what it didn't do. No cut-and-paste. No multitasking. No removable battery. Didn't work with Microsoft Exchange servers. No removable storage. Yup, there's a list of things the iPad doesn't do (some of them the same complaints). Which may indeed matter to the hi-tech early adopters... but they are not the market for this. You want a customizable box? Grab a Linux netbook and go crazy. For the other 99.99% of the population, they want something that doesn't require advanced technophilia in its users.

I think Apple is going after people who aren't heavy computer users, and/or people who are interested in a netbook because they want to have the ability to browse the web without lugging around a laptop (or squinting at an iPhone screen). I expect they'll sell quite a lot of them despite disparaging comments from hardcore geeks, and eventually as they come out with newer versions of the OS and new hardware iterations many of the objections will be dealt with. I think a year from now, when there have been one or two updates to the OS, perhaps new hardware, and certainly thousands of new apps, the positioning and market for the device will be much clearer.

This also illustrates a basic marketing idea: Don't confuse yourself with the target market. It's an easy mistake to make, and one that many commentators are making. Just because you like or don't like a product doesn't mean that its intended market will feel the same way.

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