Apple’s iPad is off to a very strong start – over a million units priced from $499 to $829 sold in its first month. The number would be even higher if Apple could produce more. There are long waiting lists at Apple’s retail and online stores.
A factor in the iPad’s run away success may be its marketing. The iPad’s marketing mix includes news releases, teasers, advertising, a Facebook page for iPad applications and a dedicated YouTube channel. Amid all the celebratory hype is something often missing in most product launches, including Apple’s. Namely the experience of using the product, as in the example below.
This ad doesn’t bombard the viewer with a classic Unique Selling Proposition or a straight list of – benefits so common in marketing of either technology or consumer products including Apples own iPod and flagship Mac computers. The iPad marketing doesn’t dwell on clichés such as that of Apple’s MacBook Pro ad, which proclaims that the “unibody enclosure is carved from a single piece of aluminum.” It’s a commercial, reminiscent of classic auto and watch ads, that focus on what goes into the product rather than what you get out of it.
In a sense, the iPad hearkens back to some of the early successes of personal computing. Back in the day, software was sold (not marketed) to customers, who more or less knew what they wanted. Along came Lotus and its spreadsheet program. There were other spreadsheets, but the category was not firmly established. What Lotus did to establish the category and its position as the leading brand in it, was to send squads of reps out to the field to show, in brief demos, how an average user could solve a useful problem in a few minutes.
Critics of the iPad ask what can you do with an iPad, that you couldn’t do with a laptop, smart phone or combination of the two. Apple’s reply is to show how it feels to use one. Here, for example, is what it’s like to use the iPad as an e-book reader.
The effect of this “show ’em don’t tell ’em” was once revolutionary and appears to be so again.
BTW, I’m writing this on an iPad.