Friday, September 3, 2010

Why Apple's iPad is a Success

A few months ago, I predicted that Apple’s iPad would not be a success.  To summarize the reason I made this prediction, it appeared at launch that Apple was simply going to position the iPad as a device that sits between the mobile smart phone and the laptop.  As I stated at the time, I did not believe that consumers would want to purchase yet another hand-held device.

In hindsight, I was wrong.  The iPad has been a runaway success and has compelled others to create new tablet devices.  However, even though I was wrong in my prediction, Apple was also wrong in how they saw the iPad being positioned in the minds of customers.  The iPad is not perceived by consumers simply as a device in the middle-of-the-size continuum.

Despite it’s form factor, consumers judge products based on the jobs it helps them get done.  As a result, the iPad is being grouped in the minds of consumers with other portable electronic reading devices like the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader.  What all these devices have in common is that they enable people to read books and keep up with information while on the go.

My theory about why the iPad is selling so well has to do with this grouping.  When we begin to seek out a solution to a job we are trying to get done, it is because we want to get that job done.  However, when we make decisions about what product or service to purchase, we do so by comparing one option against alternative options.  We then base our purchase decision based on how well we believe the solution will allow us to get the job done.  This includes everything from making the purchase to learning how to use it to maintaining it and, ultimately, disposing of it. 

As a result of the iPad being grouped with these other devices, consumers are choosing to purchase the iPad because of it’s perceived superiority in how it gets the job of reading books and keeping up with information done.  It’s intuitive user interface, numerous apps that seamlessly sync desired content, and high resolution color screen are all often given as examples of why it is a desirable solution over the Kindle and Reader.

From Apple’s advertising and marketing campaigns, I do not believe they intended to have consumers pair their new device with these other e-readers.  Rather, consumers have done this on their own based on the job they are hiring these solutions to get done.  As a result, Apple has a product consumers are choosing to buy more often than not.  The only question that remains in my mind is whether or not Apple could have even more success with the iPad if they purposely positioned it in this way.

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