With nearly half a million iPads sold thus far, I can’t help but notice what this actually proves about Apple and the buying public. After all, few companies have succeeded in force-feeding users the manufacturer’s own “flavor”, despite many customers telling Apple (even screaming) what they don’t like.Steve Jobs has made no secret about his dissatisfaction with Flash. He recently announced there’s no plans for the iPhone or iPad to ever support Adobe’s ever-popular tool. That’s a shame, since Adobe has supported Apple, well, let’s just say that without programs like PhotoShop and PageMaker, Apple wouldn’t have had the chance to be what it is today.
And while Apple will be providing updates to allow for multi-tasking, users of early generation iPhones and iPod Touches won’t be able to take advantage of this highly-requested feature.
So, what’s it all prove? Several things…
- We love “pretty”. We don’t just want to navigate stylish apps and well-designed Web sites, but we want our devices to also look cool. Sometimes, we’re willing to forego functionality, especially if a better system is gosh-darned ugly.
- Apple knows its target audience. Yes, they do! Despite the fact they don’t hold focus groups, they’re still successful in telling so many people what they need and want, and what they’re going to get. And still, it’s accepted and credit cards fall right out of wallets. If Apple didn’t know its target customer, the iPhone would have been a dismal failure and the iPad likely wouldn’t exist. Anyone who argues that Apple is ignorant and stupid probably wishes he was as successful as the company was in getting thousands of people to drop their current cell carrier and move to AT&T.
- Apple is confident, certain of its success. This became evident when AT&T was awarded exclusivity and even more so with the introduction of the iPad. Apple knows that if we love their gadgets, even just more than a little, then we’ll consider buying new generations. I’ll admit, when my five-year-old iPod stops holding a charge, I intend to purchase a new iPod.
- We want portable, and are willing to pay a lot of cash to get just that. We want the accessories, the protectors, and even special clothing or carrying cases to “package” it all in style.
- We still don’t take security seriously. Using Wi-Fi, the iPad is going to be a hot item to use both at home and on the road. Unfortunately, most public Wi-Fi spots are not secure, and the average user knows nothing about configuring a secure network or “hiding” themselves on public ones.
- We argue more about the price of a product than we do its accessories and services. Most of my iPhone-using colleagues pay a minimum of $105/month for their calling/data plan. That’s more than $1,200 per year. I pay just under that for my Pre Plus plan on Verizon, but that’s not my point… the device itself is most often the least expensive component.
- We’ve become device-hungry. Actually, gluttons. When will we ever have enough gadgets? I have a PC, Mac, three laptops, iPod, Pre Plus, digital camera, Mi-Fi device, and several “unitasking” devices. Would I love to have an iPad? Sure. Do I need one? No. Will it define me? No. But for many, the number of toys, and the newness of those devices, does define them. Who doesn’t want to be cutting-edge?
- We’ve gone from wanting a single device that does everything to accepting the notion of carrying several devices in our carry-on. I have a hi-res digital camera, and it does go with me on trips. Around town, though, the 3.0 mega-pixel camera on my Pre Plus will do just fine. Also in my carry-on goes a laptop and iPod. That’s four total devices, and I see so many more people carry much more on the plane. Why anyone needs to carry both a laptop and portable DVD player is beyond me…
- Even naysayers and trashy reviews help sell anything Apple. The company has a very loyal customer-base and, even when acknowledging its faults, will defend the manufacturer overall. There’s few companies – ever- that have gained this specific type of loyalty. The other is Adobe (though Adobe actually requests input from its users).
- Pre-existing and/or failed products can be regenerated (using newer technology). Apple has proven this many times over. The iPod? A music player… The iPhone? Think Palm. The iPad? Think Tablet. While Apple’s core ideas may not be entirely new or original, the way they approach them surely is, right down to how they package and market them.
We can learn a great deal from the release of the iPad and it’s growing popularity, despite what it lacks. It makes us think about how much effort goes behind production and marketing of a product that’s cutting-edge, and why it gains popularity (and loyalty) so quickly. For business, it gives us hope (or, at least the dream) that we, too can make our “mark” by not only making people want our products, but convincing them of their need.