Selling The IPad To Ourselves

Whenever you hear an ace pitchman like Steve Jobs start a presentation promising something "magical," you know that he's probably about to overreach what he actually believes is true about the product. And then, within minutes he pronounces the "magic" of "having the whole Web site in the palm of your hands." His own customers have had the experience for quite a while now.

Yeah, the dude is selling himself as much as he is selling us. That is not a bad thing, necessarily. I really don't think any of us knows right now whether a device like the iPad will fit within our everyday use cases. Until then, we just have to try selling ourselves on the idea.


I hope Jobs isn't planning on trying to sell the iPad around my daughter's high school here in Delaware. In a dreadfully unscientific poll we did this morning, few of her iPod-toting, SMS-aholic, IM-consumed teen cohorts had even heard of the iPad. So much for the purported over-hyping.

"You mean iPod?" she texted me back when I first asked her to ask around. And before the parent police jump down my throat, no she doesn't dare text me during classes -- recess and between classes only.

We struck gold with a couple of friends, both of whom had seen or heard of it. Neither wanted it, though. Apparently "Greg" is not interested, my daughter was quick to relay. First I ever heard of a "Greg" in my daughter's life. So I asked, "Who is this Greg character, anyway?"

Way to kill the flow of info in a teen focus group, Dad. Haven't heard from her since.

Thankfully, I am less ham-handed with my friends in the industry, perhaps because I keep my nose out of their personal lives. But a quick survey last night and this morning of mobile marketers and agencies reveals more enthusiasm than I would have expected. Almost everyone is seeing both pros and cons here, but most I asked are enthusiastic about the possibilities. 

Isobar's Gene Keenan is hot on the hardware, which runs iWork and has got some serious gaming potential. He thinks it might have a lot of social networking power, too. "They should have called it the iWant," he says. But the lack of a camera is a big omission, and the 3G premium is going to be tough pricing to swallow for a lot of people. "I have to wonder if the difference between the laptop and the iPhone is compelling enough," Keenan says. "Better battery life on the laptop side, bigger screen on the phone side. What does this do that I can't already do? No doubt it's sexy, though.

And that sexiness definitely attracts the media guys. Ujjal Kohli, CEO of mobile video ad network and app developer Rhythm NewMedia, is seeing a lush new palette and a lot of inventory. He's not as worried about the 3G pricing because a world of WiFi-only devices still maps well against the usage he sees. "We could not be more excited! 70%+ of our video usage is on WiFi anyways, and now our TV-class video apps will show beautifully on a much bigger screen," he says. Kohli's tech is behind the TMZ, AMC and new Ellen iPhone apps. He says that with ad space sold out in Q4 and 70% sold in Q1 this year, "We need more premium inventory and the iPad will drive more inventory for sure. The $499 starting price point is fantastic."

The fact that the iPad starts with a base of apps and a huge pool of developers already up to speed gives it a tremendous leg up on previous tablet and e-reader attempts. Transpera's CEO Frank Barbieri also fuels mobile video providers like CBS Mobile News, "The Today Show" and MSNBC. "We've already looked at the iPad specs and have adjusted our system to serve video ads on the iPad with relative ease," he says. "The larger screen is a great opportunity for video advertising, and because we are already compliant with the iPad specs, we see a great opportunity for our advertisers interested in reaching the iPad users."

A lot of backward-looking types like myself point to the trail of failed in-between devices that preceded the iPad. The e-readers, Tablet PCs, UMPCs, etc. raise serious questions about the need to fill the niche that hardware makers would like to appear. But Jordan Greene of MellaMedia sees through that history and suggests Apple is much better positioned to make it work. "While it may or may not be the grand slam that everyone wanted it to be, it is the first legitimate foray to create this category that has been long promised," he says. "Apple now has the infrastructure to support it and an educated consumer base that will understand how to use it right out of the box." Greene sees the possibility of the form factor and input making inroads on numerous industries where paperwork cries out for efficiencies. He makes the case (which I think will need to be made to me and others) that this is considerably more than either a Kindle or even an iPhone.

But are we really going to embrace this kinda-new way to consume media? That is the question, really. More than anything, this is a media consumption device. I am actually fairly shocked at how little this device is informed by person-to-person communication and interactivity. It is really a lean-back device. With a keypad that is going to be a challenge under any scenario and no camera for video-blogging, the iPad doesn't even have some of the basic blogging and posting tools Apple encourages on its Mac platform.

But Dan Flanegan of BrandinHand says this is exactly the in-between device that finalizes his shift of media consumption from analog to digital. "The iPad completes my content consumption transformation," he says. "To this point my iPhone and MacBook Pro have pulled me away from traditional broadcast entertainment and news.  The iPad completes this, giving me a place for books, magazines, newspapers right alongside a better experience for TV and movies."

Flanegan is a true believer that this is the beginning of the end of paper. "I can see how my kids will consume media in their lifetime.  Goodbye newsprint, annoying business reply card inserts and six-inch thick Stephen King novels.  Hello, content anywhere!  What took you so long?"

Well maybe Dan's kids will enjoy that post-analog world. It might take a while to peddle this one to that "Greg" character at our local high school.

For now at least, I am with Greg: not that interested. Whoever the hell this Greg is. Wait till that girl gets home.       

6 comments about "Selling The IPad To Ourselves".
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  1. David Culbertson from LightBulb Interactive, January 28, 2010 at 5:14 p.m.

    Remember to spell check your email subject lines. :-)

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 28, 2010 at 5:56 p.m.

    It there a little thingy on the side where you can plug in a portable keyboard that works with the padpod (podpad)? Another $30+ taxes + for another gadget on at AT&T still not as large as I would prefer as a double pager without a phone connectionis are not going to ring my $500 bell or $854 bell. And Steve, you can always offer Greg the opportunity for some play time with your gadgets and get your meet and greet.

  3. Esther Surden from E. Surden Associates, January 28, 2010 at 6:44 p.m.

    I think the baby boomer generation will adopt this. They've been looking for something better than the Amazon Kindle, something that does more, is in color, is thin and light, and still holds a lot of books. I'm not surprised that teens aren't interested. It's too expensive for them.

  4. Nelson Yuen from Stereotypical Mid Sized Services Corp., January 29, 2010 at 10:14 a.m.

    I was actually thinking of putting wings on the tablet and then making a commercial about how the "Ipad has wings - that's what makes it better than the other leading tamp... I mean tablets."

  5. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, January 29, 2010 at 11:42 a.m.

    I am personally disappointed. And Apple just left their chest open for a competitor to slide a knife in their heart when it comes to the Tablet-Reader device. For the same reason Apple did this for mobile phones and music. In the past they had no legacy business at risk to be cannibalized. Now they do with the App Ecosystem they continuously tout for the I Phone.

    If the I Tab had Flash and allowed TV Everywhere and full online surfing, which could possible reduce the need for an I Phone and Mobile formatted web and Apps, they would be screwing all the developers who helped make the I Phone/I Touch such a success. The problem here is 1] We really was full web and not Apps even though some are cute or useful. 2] Competitors like HP, Dell, Sony etc have no App Developer Ecosystem so they are free to go all out for full HTML and Flash. And since they own no browser software, nor Digital Ad Networks they lose nothing by allowing full Firefox with Ad Blocker Plus on their Reader/Tablets.

    And thus this will be the first major stumble for Apple n years, and allow they to feel what they have done to others when a competitor trounces them in this market. The one thing Apple has in it's favor is the dedicated fan base. So when they are forced to introduce Flash to compete, they can use the competition as the excuse when they tell their App Developers why they are hurting their business.

    But until then I will sit on the sidelines and wait for full Flash before buying anything.

  6. Nelson Yuen from Stereotypical Mid Sized Services Corp., January 29, 2010 at 3:31 p.m.


    So don't quote me on this (unless I wind up dead in an ally because Apple assassinated me) but I think there is a STRATEGIC reason why the Ipad doesn't have flash capability - TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION ALSO that the price point as a tablet is very cheap all things considered AGAINST a NON competitor Kindle...

    My conspiracy theory??? Try to segment the "web advertising platform" into two segments - or try to think of these segments as "ways people consume data."

    You have apps - which for all intensive purposes replaces "internet browsing." And then you have the traditional WWW. (I hope I haven't lost anyone so far.)

    Think of your Iphone. Do you use your Apps more? Or do you browse the internet more? Do apps supplement the majority of needs you need met on the internet? Or do you browse the internet to solve your "mobile" problems?

    Not having flash on the IPAD may be strategic in that it is directly competing with Google to gain market share in the ad serving platform for mobile media. The best way to describe this is "Cloud Computing" VS "App Computing." Or "Chrome" vs "Safari"

    So a better example is, on a "Chrome OS" tablet, you may get a flash ad. On a IPAD you may get an add VIA the app you are using. Did anything I just said make sense?

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