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Second thoughts on the iPad

I had posted earlier that I did not understand what need the Apple iPad really fills, and what use cases and scenarios it enables that are currently not possible. I had concluded that the iPad had no clear purpose and no clear position.

Well, I’m being forced to reconsider my thoughts for two reasons. First, as a marketing expert, I should have known the power of emotional appeal. Everyone who owns the iPad that I have talked to gushes about how “gorgeous” the device is and how much they love the experience. When pressed about WHY and WHERE they use the iPad that the couldn’t use their iPhone or their Mac or their iPod Touch, people aren’t clear. But it doesn’t matter. The user experience is so intuitive and the device is so damn sexy that people are willing to vote with their wallets. Most people admit they don’t need an iPad, but they absolutely WANT one. And as we all know, in a battler of heart over mind, the heart wins every time. After all, 3 million iPads have been sold and counting. The lesson – understand the power of emotion. Apple is a true master at “selling lust”.

The second reason relates to consumer behavior in relation to computers. Ten years ago, if you think about what people did on their computers, you realize that we spend a large percentage of our time creating content and very little time consuming content. After all, there wasn’t much content to consume. There was no youTube, no iTunes, no Pandora, no Facebook and so on. We did word processing, email, spreadsheets and presentations. All these applications required creation of content, and hence keyboards etc.

But now, things are quite different. We have become voracious consumers of content. If you measure the percentage of time that people, especially younger people, spend consuming content versus creating content, I bet you would find that the vast majority of the time, we are in consumption mode. Particularly with all the applications on the iPhone, we are playing games, reading stuff, networking wih friends, watching videos and so on. And that’s what the iPad is about – it is a fantastic content consumption device. Content consumption requires a great browser, great multimedia, great display, great sound and an intuitive user interface. Hence the value of the iPad. If all we do in creation mode is email, and that too, we spend more time reading emails than responding to them, then the iPad does 90% of what we need to do with a laptop, and with a far superior user experience. And this trend will continue. All this bodes very well for the iPad.

In summary, the iPad will usher in a new era of “consumption-optimized” devices and will prove to be a big success for Apple. I stand corrected!

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