Dear Apple, Market to Me

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

It sort of defies logic. Consumer buying, that is. There’s a logic, and then there’s consumer buying logic.

Take Apple, for example. Steve Jobs wanted to make “insanely great” products. It became a battle cry for the whole company, and as consumers, we bought it. They made the iPod and iMac, and we bought them. These were insanely great products that we had to have. Soon there will be an assault of iPad competitors that make similar touch-screen tablets. And yet, people will still buy the Apple iPad for some logical…and many illogical reasons.

Before Apple released these products, there were other computer devices that did similar things for less money. After Apple released these products, there were even more choices for even less money. And yet we keep buying the Apple brand.

Why is that? Well, we’ve been marketed to…and we like it. Apple somehow takes buyer’s remorse and turns it into buyer evangelism. People who buy Apple get excited with their purchase and tell their family and friends. It is classic viral marketing. It’s better than viral marketing, it’s passion marketing. Social marketing and passion marketing.

It’s the kind of marketing that makes us buy expensive cars with bigger engines than we can possibly use. The amount of horsepower that you can purchase far exceeds you ability to use it on any regular basis. But we don’t mind. Driving can be about getting from point A to point B. Or it can be about passion, excitement, and sex appeal. It becomes a gap between what you need and what you want.

Want and need are two different things. I need a new computer for my home-based work. Could I get an inexpensive machine that does the basics? Of course. But instead, I will go beyond basic need and deep into the want territory.

I’m buying a new Mac. I like how it works. I get great service from Macs, so I am willing to pay the extra few bucks to have the Mac experience. I’m sure the PC would run similar software, allowing me to get my job done. But I like the Mac.

Logic gives way to passion, and I am voluntarily buying a product that may be slightly better in performance, but much better in consumer experience.

Is the Mac insanely great? You bet. But so are other competitive products that cost less. For $200-$500 less, I can get a similarly equipped PC. Am I actually paying for a better product or a better marketing experience? Let me help you decide….

My new Mac arrives next week.

Links:

iPad – Content, Marketing & Comics

Steve Jobs presents the iPad

Steve Jobs presents the iPad

If you’re a Macintosh fan or a Steve Jobs zombie (Jobzie?) today was like Christmas. Maybe even better. Today, as if you didn’t know already, Apple finally announced the long-awaited tablet device “iPad.”

If you follow this blog, you know that I primarily talk about content, interactive media, and marketing. Oh yeah, and occasionally comic books. So let’s talk about what the iPad means for each of my favorite topics:

  • Content: Well, as I’ve said before, it all comes down to content. The best device in the world will only go so far on mediocre content. Touch screens are cool, but they need to be worth the extra cost.
    Positive: As usual, Apple fully delivers on the iPad. Right out of the gate, you’ll be able to tap into the iTunes store for eBooks, videos, games, and music. Plus there’s probably a lot more content on the way. You can buy the iPad knowing that Apple will provide plenty of content in full, brilliant multimedia and color.
    Negative: It’s hard not to compare the iPad to the Kindle when it comes to reading ebooks. At this point, it looks like Kindle’s e-ink has an advantage over the iPad’s screen. It’s just nicer to read books on a reflective surface, as opposed to an active matrix display. Sorry, color just isn’t that important for the enjoyment of text, particularly long-form prose.
  • Interactive media: We’re now in a society where we fully expect to be able to interact with a certain amount of media. And Apple doesn’t disappoint here. The iPad is packed with nifty new tech that will allow us to touch, drag, scale, and game. We are at the tip of the creative iceberg, and it’s exciting to just dream about the amazing applications that will take advantage of the iPad platform.
    Positive: What’s not to like? It’s going to revolutionize gaming and allow you to take your fun wherever you go. As a parent, I love portable movies and games. Apps are what made the iPhone special, and the same tech will work on the iPad. Nice.
    Negative: It looks like I may have to re-purchase movies that I have on DVD so they play on the iPad. Something tells me I will be buying a lot of stuff to feed my iPad.
  • Marketing: At the core, Apple is an electronics manufacturer, but somehow they have managed to position themselves miles above the rest of the industry. Their brand is huge. No other manufacturer can launch a product quite like Apple. Plus Steve Jobs knows how to give a presentation. If you’re a marketer, take a close look at your lame PowerPoint decks and ask yourself if you can somehow do better. (You can.) Apple’s marketing is a brilliant mix of art, science, and magic. This is what they should study in universities.
    Positive: Apple breaks many marketing rules, but somehow they make it work. We can all learn from them when it comes to branding and event marketing. Apple makes it look easy, even though they are probably working like mad in the days leading up to the event.
    Negative: What they do as marketers isn’t really taught in school. And try as they may, very few marketers can match their magic formula for generating excitement around product launches. But is this really a negative? Nah, it gives us marketers an achievement goal.
  • Comics: It’s hard to say how this will affect the comic book business. Comics are already being pirated and distributed through torrents. Up until now, people had to buy printed comics to get a decent experience. Sure, you could read a pirated comic on your computer monitor, but the mechanics were wrong. Monitors are horizontal, while comics are vertical. Marvel’s Digital Comics actually give a pretty good experience, but it still required you to be sitting in front of your computer. I work in front of a computer all day, so sitting at my desk to read is a bit unappealing. Printed comics are still my favorite way to read full-color comic books. But for how long?
    Positive: The iPad could make reading comics really exciting. I would love to read my monthly titles on a nice, clear tablet. I could store them on the device (as opposed to reading them in the cloud), that would free up a lot of space in my house. Set the right price, and I will pay for a digital subscription to my favorite comics. I’m ready, let’s go.
    Negative: The pirates are already killing comics the way they nearly killed music and movies. If piracy doesn’t stop, it won’t make economic sense to create comics. Easy file sharing and torrents could kill mainstream comics as we know them today. The iPad just gives the pirates a better platform for sharing files.

So that’s it. The ‘Net and the pundits are already buzzing about the iPad. I’m going to immerse myself in the excitement and optimism.

Merry Christmas, Apple fans.

iPhone Growing Up

The iPhone is starting to grow up. Slashdot: Apple Targeting Business World for the iPhone. Technophiles will understand these announcements to be a “pretty big deal.”

For the non-geeks it means that iPhone can now accept some third party software applications, widgets, and security features that will mainstream it into the business world. It’s likely to replace some the venerable Blackberry in some organizations.

With the recent announcement of the software developer’s kit (SDK), Steve Jobs has suggested that the little-gadget-that-does-it-all is ready to graduate from college and join the workforce.

The iPhone will get a job, learn how to use business applications, play nice with Microsoft, and dress appropriately for work.

That doesn’t mean that the iPhone doesnt still have to follow Uncle Steve’s rules. In fact, while you still live under the roof of the Apple Family, the post-pubescent iPhone is still going to have a curfew. That is, applications and tools will still follow Apple Family rules for hygiene and decency. This is a good thing, since Apple users tend to be people who want their applications, hardware, and gadgets to all play nice together.

I dont have an iPhone yet, but I plan to adopt one soon.