In a recent study conducted by ChangeWave Research regarding tablet trends, unsurprisingly 70 percent of respondents who indicated they were interested in purchasing a tablet in the next 90 days stated that their choice would definitely be the iPad. While there’s no question that the iPad is still really the only tablet choice of note, public perception of Apple’s tablet seems to be a strange sort of oxymoron; immense satisfaction with the product juxtaposed with the concomitant desire for something different.
It’s a strange circumstance that has most other tech vendors clamouring to discover Apple’s Achilles Heel, the chink in the Cupertino Company’s previously impervious armour that might allow someone, anyone, to eek out a spot in the tablet market.
But before anyone can produce a product that has the potential to dethrone Apple’s incumbent, the question remains, why is the iPad so popular to begin with? Answer this question and you’ll find that Apple, despite what many might think, is vulnerable and with the right tablet product, it can be beaten.
Throughout my years of covering the tech and telecom industries I’ve consistently found myself in awe of marketing and propaganda. Appeal to the heart instead of the mind, successful marketing strategy dictates, and you’ll have a ravenous and dedicated consumer base. It’s a plan Apple has enacted to perfection over the past several years, entrenching itself so deeply within the psyche of both the technologically inclined and the rank-and-file consumer that many simply don’t look at other options, Apple’s iPhone or iPad is simply the only choice.
But the strange thing, as I mentioned, is that many dedicated fans of Apple products aren’t satisfied with the product they have in their hands. Simply put, while consumers continue to purchase Apple products, particularly in the tablet sector, they do so while clamouring for those beloved products to do more, be more versatile, and have increased real world functionality. It is this dissatisfaction, if understood and properly exploited (for lack of a better term), that might allow the first real iPad killer to emerge.
You see, consumer habits are about perception. Apple has successfully convinced a whole generation of consumers that its product is the right choice, meeting people’s desires for style, ease of use, and, of course, that intangible ‘cool’ factor. For would-be competitors, the strategy simply needs to be, change public perception—easier said than done.
Before the birth of the tablet genre Steve Jobs considered the project to be ‘stupid,’ lacking vital user interface items like the keyboard. In fact, when the iPad was first released it came with an external keyboard to respond to this very problem. But instead of having people see the new tablet genre as a neutered Netbook, Jobs changed public perception, selling something new and attractive.
Of course Jobs was right in his initial criticism, in that it seems that despite people’s satisfaction with the iPad they desperately do want better user interface, as the touchscreen has proven itself incapable of any real heavy lifting when it comes to data entry.
So if you want to dethrone the iPad the strategy is really quite simple: remind the public of the iPad’s shortcomings, create some dissatisfaction, and tarnish the iPad’s sterling veneer. But that’s really only step one, as next you’ll need to actually produce a product that shores up the iPad’s weaknesses, and does so without sacrificing much of what made the iPad popular in the first place.
In the end, success in the mobile market is all about managing perceptions, it’s something that Apple is brilliant at and something other companies will need to learn quickly if they have any hope of creating a potential iPad-killer.