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5 Reasons Why Apple Will Win Again with the iPad

2010 January 31
by Greg Satell

Fool me once.  Shame on you.  Fool me twice… I won’t get fooled again!

How about a third time?

Almost as soon as Apple came out with the iPad, it became fashionable for the technorati to point out its flaws.  However, Apple will surely prove the naysayers wrong, just as they did with the iPod and the iPhone.

Here are 5 reasons why Apple will win again:

The Purple Ocean

As I’ve pointed out before, Apple doesn’t look for Blue Oceans, but Purple ones.  By that I mean that they attack markets that are already established but have serious growth potential.  Despite the usual Apple hyperbole, the iPad isn’t revolutionary, it’s evolutionary.

Just like the iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player and the iPhone wasn’t the first mobile phone (or even the first smart phone), the iPad isn’t a new idea.  The Tablet PC and the Kindle have been out for years.  As many have pointed the iPad is basically a larger version of the hugely successful iTouch.

That means there is plenty of data out there to crunch.  Apple would have to be enormously stupid (which they clearly are not) to misread the market potential.  If they say it’s there, it probably is.

Usability

Apple isn’t a company that produces new ideas (even the Macintosh was based on a graphical user interface developed at Xerox), but one that builds fantastic products.  There’s a big difference.

One thing that nobody disputes is that the iPad works incredibly well.  It’s fast, looks great, and is extremely tactile.  They even brought it in at a surprisingly low price (which is probably a first for Apple).

Everyone who has actually ever built a technology product knows how hard this is.  Any idiot can dream up a wild idea.  For a concept to succeed you have to get a thousand things right and make them all work together.  That takes more passion and dedication than most companies can muster.

Apple wins because they get the details right.

Strategic Clarity

Most of the criticism has been about what the iPad lacks.  For instance it doesn’t have a camera or run flash.  That’s not disregard, it’s discretion.  Good strategy is about making choices and that means deciding what not to do as much as it is selecting what you will do.

Every time you add a feature, you lose usability.  Loading up on software sacrifices speed.  Adding hardware such as a camera and accessory ports increases both weight and price.  Making a great product requires tough choices.  Trying to please everybody will inevitably lead to a clunky, overpriced product that does nothing particularly well.

Besides, who needs a built-in camera for a device that is made to lay flat anyway?  The lack of flash is probably more of a problem for Adobe than it is for Apple.  As Dmitry Fadeyev, points out, “the iPad will be a very successful product for Apple because it solves problems rather than competes on features.”

The iPad will win not because everyone will buy it, but because the ones that do will love it.

Apps

The iPad is launching with almost 140,000 apps available, some of which have the potential to rejuvenate the print industry.  Again this shows the wisdom of Apple’s strategic clarity.  They are building off the existing technological and commercial infrastructure that they have already have in place.

Moreover, as industry insider Robert Scoble points out, developers are “slobbering over themselves to develop for the iPad.”

Even better, because Apple has taken this disciplined approach, developers can co-develop apps for the iTouch, iPhone and iPad, which will allow them to amortize costs over a greater potential market.

Accessories

While some reviewers have whined about lack of accessories and ports, that’s a pretty minor problem.  Although I too am a bit mystified that the iPad doesn’t include a USB port, it’s very doubtful that accessories will be a deal breaker.

Much like software developers, I’m sure there won’t be a lack of companies rushing out hardware accessories.  Unlike reviewers, hardware companies have a business to run and there will be plenty of money to make with the iPad.

Why Apple Wins (and Google too)

While it is quite likely that the iPad never attains dominant market share, I doubt Apple cares that much.  The Macintosh has never been a market share leader and the iPhone commands a paltry 1% of the mobile phone market.  Profits are what matter and Apple is a money making machine.

Apple wins because they make great products that people love and will pay a premium for.  Much like Google, they are a product driven company that does what it takes to deliver for the consumer.

That takes more than money or strategy.  It takes leadership and the passion of thousands who truly believe they are making the world a better place.

– Greg

45 Responses leave one →
  1. January 31, 2010

    I definitely like and agree with your view Greg. As we say at Cnvrgnc “new ideas are passe. What you want is creative interpretation and great execution,” and apple does this brilliantly.

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Rasul,

    Thanks. I like you’re “new ideas are passe” motto.

    I have one that’s similar, but more “Philly style”: Ideas are like a**holes. Everybody’s got one and they’re usually full of sh*t:-)

    – Greg

    [Reply]

  2. January 31, 2010

    Hi Greg, a great article. I couldn’t agree more, especially about the flash issue that got a lot of words written in the past few days. The flash isn’t a problem for apple, and the Iphone is a living proof for that. Although I’m not an Iphone guy (prefer Blackberry) I think the Ipad has a lot of potential competing with netbooks and all kinds of kindles, that are pricey and not as cool. (cool still sells)

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Doron,

    Thanks. btw, how are things going with your new networking blog?

    – Greg

    [Reply]

  3. January 31, 2010

    Things are going well, we post at least once a week, and we started getting good feedbacks!
    Thanks,
    Doron.

    [Reply]

  4. Rick Schrynemeeckers permalink
    January 31, 2010

    Greg,

    Very good and articulate article. I also like Rasul’s comment, “New ideas are passe.”

    Btw, each time I open the link on one of your articles I am always struck that I like the clean look of your page for the article. I know that doesn’t happen by chance. We are in the process or redesgning our web site……..so, I know. :c)

    Regards,
    Rick

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Rick,

    Thanks. Glad you like the site.

    A good rule of thumb is “When in doubt, leave it out:-))”

    [Reply]

  5. January 31, 2010

    ‘Belief that they are making the world a better place’ is a strong philosophical and business notion, which not many company adhere to nor fully understand.

    Apple for one has got their strategy n head in place.

    I completely agree to your viewpoint, as usual, Greg.

    I liked Rasul’s comments too.

    😀

    Cheers
    Vikram

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Thanks Vikram.

    [Reply]

  6. Ajoy Vakil permalink
    January 31, 2010

    Hi Greg

    Another wonderful post! Apple always takes innovation to the next level – and it is not innovation for the sake of innovation – it is innovation that improves our standard of computing, communicating and living.

    Ajoy Vakil

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Ajoy,

    Good point. Thanks.

    – Greg

    [Reply]

  7. gertrude Huber permalink
    January 31, 2010

    As usual, great post Greg. By the way, you are right on the dot ~ Apple has never been about market share & yet it’s still a money making machine.

    gertrude

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Gertrude,

    How nice to see you again! How is your new home?

    – Greg

    [Reply]

  8. Stuart Nicholson permalink
    January 31, 2010

    Agree with all of this,Greg.

    I also think that Apple will continue to succeed because by having attained iconic brand status (which few brands ever get to) their evangelists will continue to wax lyrical about whatever they bring out.Obviously this would be diluted if they didnt launch great products (no sign of that at the moment), but it certainly enables them to launch without having to spend vast amounts of their own money on communications, which can only add to the profitability of their turnover.

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Stuart,

    Unfortunately, media agencies lose again:-( There’s always search:-)

    – Greg

    [Reply]

  9. hardik permalink
    January 31, 2010

    Great article Greg . I truly believe that many companies fail since they try to please everyone – which also means lack of consumer focus.
    Today technology makes it very easy for products to do everything for everyone.
    Creating a niche product for niche audience is very challenging and requires someone with the
    vision and courage as Steve Jobs . Kudos to him !

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Hardik,

    Good point. The point is to do something well!

    – Greg

    [Reply]

  10. mary wall permalink
    January 31, 2010

    Greg, I don’t remember how I found your website, but I love reading your postings . . . they are clear and offer new ways of thinking about marketing! Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Mary,

    Thanks. I’m glad you’re enjoying and finding it useful:-)

    – Greg

    [Reply]

  11. January 31, 2010

    Greg,

    LOL. . .dude, I can dig it! I actually worked for Apple lil’ bit ago, and because of their great customer service and their phenomenal business model they’ve raised the bar (which becomes a blessing and a curse) customers would come into the store thinking that the Apple was Merlin and could ‘wave a wand’ and instantly fix “it”, and when that didn’t/couldn’t happen on the “spot” people wanted to show their @$$es! Man a whole bunch of times I sooo wanted to go “philly style” on ’em! My professional demeanor and patience allowed me otherwise. . .lol

    @Rick and @Vikram – thanks for the shout out gents. Much appreciated

    [Reply]

  12. January 31, 2010

    Greg – once again a great post – thanks! And one near to my heart being the Apple fan I am. Really liked the comments about ideas being passe, and your reply relating them to a part of our anatomy.
    The lack of a USB connector is the only surprise (to me), in terms of what’s missing from V1 iPads. There is already a kludge which takes the 30 pin iPhone like connector (I think that’s how many pins it has, never counted!) and adds a USB port. I think Apple will add USB to a future model. Doesn’t weigh much and when the volumes go up the production costs will come down and Apple will keep the device at the same price points and add in some new features to show how lucky this latest buyer is to get a new one.
    Jobs said in Apple’s announcement, that the iPad was the ultimate surfing experience for the net. That got me thinking about the users of the net. I think Apple divided the Internet population into those who consume content and those who both consume it and create it. And they aimed iPads purely at consumers and more or less ignored the needs of creators, BY DESIGN, as you pointed out Greg – given all those conscious decisions that went into the specification stage. Hence no camera, no USB, no easy way to add devices, etc.
    Like all good strategic products, Apple has produced a killer machine for the price, but left plenty of room for improvement in future versions. And let’s face it, who among us saw that amazing gadget in Steve’s hands and didn’t think about how nice it would be to take one with you on your next holiday? Every travel guide, novel, text-book, map, tour direction and special event description in the palm of your two hands. My last trip, my suitcase was right on the airline limit and all it had in it were the above list of paper-based things to read, and about 5 pounds of my personal luggage. So yes, even a content creator like me looked at it and drooled.

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Eric,

    You make a good point about content creators. I think part of Apple’s strength is that they focus on the most demanding segment of the market, who in turn evangelize for them.

    – Greg

    [Reply]

  13. February 1, 2010

    Greg,
    This is not very professional, but it is a funny skit about the i-pad! Enjoy!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L68aKVAzwQ4
    Mary

    [Reply]

  14. February 1, 2010

    Greg, You’ve made some good points, some of which I made in my own obligatory iPad post. It’s really all about the expectations, and even Apple can’t top Apple.

    The #1 reason they’ll do okay is Apple makes good stuff. The strategic clarity as you call it is why; Apple has a vision and does not try to make things for all people. They make really great things that are perfect for some people.

    The other reason it’ll do fine, it is evolutionary and like the iPod, Macs, and iPhone before it, this first attempt is the WORST iPad Apple will likely make. It will get better, the features will improve, and the price will likely drop over time. So yeah, they should “win” out in the end. FWIW.

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Davina,

    Good points. Thanks.

    – Greg

    [Reply]

  15. February 1, 2010

    Greg,
    As you already know, I am a huge Apple fan and user of many Apple products. But technical features, innovation and market share discussions aside, I have to say that the branding on this product (the name IPad) really bothers me. I would venture a guess that the name was most likely generated by a group of GUYS because using the word PAD really conjures up a different image for us girls. Most men think “writing tablet,” but I guarantee you most girls don’t. As a matter of fact, right after the announcement introducing IPad last week, jokes broke out all over Twitter, referring to it as the ITampon (which actually became a trending topic). Also, I know that they did coin the whole IThis and IThat naming trend, but with so many other products and businesses using that format (like Kraft with their failed ISnack), it has lost its luster. Now I’m not suggesting that they could change that format at this point because it’s their thing now, but in retrospect, if they had the foresight that they usually seem to have, maybe there could have been some kind of legal protection that could have been in place to protect the use of IThis or IThat through trademark or copyright.

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Momblebee,

    They actually seem to have a habit of picking names with problems. There’s been a lot of ink about the name and apparently it’s not the first time it’s happened.

    I think in the end, it will probably help them. Computer products are so far from feminine hygiene products that I don’t think the association hits on a visceral level.

    – Greg

    [Reply]

  16. February 1, 2010

    Hey Greg. Great post. Thanks for taking the opposite approach that most others are taking in regards to the iPad.

    I agree. Apple knows what they are doing here, and I’m sure this will be successful for them. And as Eric pointed out previously, they left some room for improvements.

    I will admit this: I don’t NEED an iPad. But I do WANT one. At least I want to play on one for a while; then I’m sure I’m going to want one…

    –Greg

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Greg,

    Yeah, I want one too:-)

    – Greg

    [Reply]

  17. February 1, 2010

    Very well conceived article; and considering the poo-poo’ing Ars Technica did on the iPad, this was a refreshing change. I am slobbering over myself just waiting to get one! 😉

    Clearly, I agree with every point you made – though I do believe adding Flash capability could be prudent.

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Danny,

    Thanks. I don’t know what the problem is with Steve Jobs and Adobe, but apperntly flash isn’t in the cards.

    – Greg

    [Reply]

  18. February 1, 2010

    Greg,
    Maybe it doesn’t hit you on a visceral level because you’re a guy ; )

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Yes, I am 🙂

    [Reply]

  19. February 1, 2010

    Just two comments:

    1) Doesn’t multi task – not a hard trick to pull off, so version one will be for people who want to pose rather than actually do some work.

    2) Shall we ban wordpad from evil Microsoft. Shall I burn down my local stationery shop that, god forbid, sells notepads and sketchpads and all other manner of things with the ‘P’ word.

    Will I find small animals that have pads on their feet and cut them off?

    Just a word – some of the reactions to the name have been school-yard rather than adult.

    hey ho… lets get vexed about really important things rather than (dare I say it) brands.

    Cheers
    George

    [Reply]

  20. February 1, 2010

    George,
    A notepad is a thing, an IPad is a product BRAND name. Big difference there. When branding, one should always think about potential other meanings or negative images that a brand name could conjure up. It’s not just a word. A brand name can be a crucial part of a product’s success or failure. My reference to Kraft is a prime example of this. They had a new snack spread (a Kraft-y version of the Vegemite spread popular in Australia). They decided to call it ISnack and there was such public mockery of the name, that they reconsidered and renamed it – even after thousands of jars of the stuff were already labeled, shipped and on store shelves.

    [Reply]

  21. Dick Laurie permalink
    February 2, 2010

    G’Day Greg,

    Brilliant summary mate. There are always plenty for people to whine about – it doesn’t do this, it hasn’t got that. Maybe that group of people haven’t got enough to do or are professional moaners.

    People buy Apple because they love Apple. It may not ever be the latest and greatest, but it’s cool, functional and appropriate for now. Like you, I’m a fan of USB ports, but whose to say V2 and V3 won’t have this and the camera built in over time. Apple rarely stop at V1, unless it was an abject failure to launch, they keep developing and evolving their products.

    One thing they do do brilliantly is stay true to their brand (values, strategy, vision). There is never any doubt that any of their products are Apple, which is yet another reason why they are so successful and much loved by their loyal fan club (these are not consumers or customers, they are members, groupies, fans).

    iPad is very cool and for lovers of all things Apple, they can’t wait to get their hands on it.

    Cheers
    Dick

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Dick,

    Thank you for your thoughts.

    To be honest, I don’t get all the griping about the camera. If it was included, how would anybody use it. How would anybody even use it while holding a big A4 sized iPad upright with two hands?

    – Greg

    [Reply]

    Terry Collmann Reply:

    Um … just the way I saw someone using it in a bar in Hong Kong the other night.

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Old post:-) I wrote it before the actual launch.

  22. April 15, 2010

    I would have to say that I am a huge fan of the iPad against my previous thoughts. Nice post haha.
    .-= Adam Zilko´s last blog ..Half a Million iPads Sold and Still Going =-.

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Thanks Adam.

    – Greg

    [Reply]

  23. PWA permalink
    June 1, 2010

    Greg, no matter how neately written, your article presents quite obvious phenomenon. You don’t need 5 reasons. The only reason is the almighty consumerism. You, as well as all the commentators above, or should I write Apple followers (?), were given yet another shiny toy, paid Steve his dividend and everyone’s happy. Well, almost everyone -> http://www.economist.com/business-finance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=16231588

    Enjoy using your new iPad, wash hand afterwards

    Cheers

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    PWA,

    Interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing.

    – Greg

    [Reply]

    Dragos Salageanu Reply:

    I’m hearing that argument every time Apple has a great success: the fanboys and the hype. Nevertheless, the original iPhone sold some 145.000 units on the opening weekend, while the iPhone 4 sold 1.7 million over the same period of time. If we consider the assumption that most of these buyers are “fanboys” reacting to the Apple hype, we come to just one possible conclusion: Apple has managed to increased with one order of magnitude its loyal fan-base (that is: consumers willing to spend considerable amounts of money regardless of reason, economic situation or practical benefits of the products they buy). And that is in spite of the economic situation or the fierce competition from other brands with solid consumer loyalty.

    Frankly, I don’t consider that conclusion as reasonable or intuitive, so, while the data is factual and verifiable, there must be something wrong with your assumption. There cannot be that many “followers” who behave in an erratic and counterproductive manner, hence there must be some value added in the products themselves.

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Good point, Dragos.

    – Greg

    [Reply]

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