The Juggernaut Argument: Would a Tablet Market Exist Without the iPad?
With competition starting to flow into the tablet market with Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Blackberry’s Playbook soon to be available to consumers, I can’t help but ponder a simple question: Would the market for tablet’s exist if it wasn’t for the iPad?
I know I side with Apple a bit heavily as any advertising industry employee typically tends to do, but preferences aside, I believe this statement can be explained by a much larger theory. Call it what you may, but for the purposes of this post, said philosophy will be referred to as “the juggernaut argument”.
Aside from making high quality merchandise, Apple’s success lies in its ability to convince consumers that they need Apple products. After Apple convinces you to buy one of its products, they are extremely effective in building customer loyalty and retaining customers. This, among others things, is what sets Apple apart from many of its peers. On paper, there are many other laptops with equal (or better) features as a MacBook, for a significantly cheaper price. However, Apple is able to transcend this divide by placing in you the need for Apple products and the belief that these products are superior to the competition. If anything, Apple is an expert advertiser and has turned themselves into a status symbol.
Thus brings us to the juggernaut argument as it pertains to the iPad and tablet market. Apple essentially created a market for tablets by convincing consumers that the iPad was a desirable product. Despite the fact that you probably own a smartphone and computer with all the capabilities of an iPad, Apple has given you a separate reason to purchase an iPad. This, as is the case for most Apple products, was done in several ways:
1) Demonstrative Commercials: Apple is highly effective in communicating to consumers how the product will be used. This helps potential customers envision how they personally would use the product and why they need it. When you visualize yourself interacting with a product, there is a much higher chance of purchase than if the product is only shown to you. It is one thing to introduce a consumer to an MP3 player. It is another to show them how they will use an iPod and why it will make their life better. I also really just like the word demonstrative.
2) Routine Anticipation: Apple announces all of its products via a Steve Jobs press conference. Consumers have engraved into their minds that these press conferences represent game-changing events. People tend to build up excitement and energy moving towards these press conferences with an idea that the new product introduced will supersede all others. Apple has harnessed this anticipation and turned it into routine. It’s a simple cause and effect relationship.
Going back to the iPad, Apple once again was able to persuade consumers that it was a product they needed to buy. Apple demonstrated how consumers would use the iPad differently from their phones and laptops. They showed consumers reading books, surfing websites using multi-touch, and quickly sorting through photos. Apple also built up routine anticipation leading to the press conference when the iPad was introduced. These two factors have contributed to astonishing sales (expected to hit 28 million by 2011) since its release.
If Apple did not create the iPad, would a market for tablets currently exist? Likely another company would have thrown a tablet onto the playing field at some point, but would they have had the power to essentially formulate a new market? This is a question we will never know the answer to, but it is fair to speculate that there may not have been. The competition that is currently coming to the tablet market has all been in the form of 7inch screens or smaller, shying away even less from a smartphone. Samsung’s Galaxy tablet, which launches this week, has received less than stellar reviews. If Samsung was first to market with this product, would a market exist like it does not? It’s not too crazy to think that it wouldn’t.
Not many other companies are able to introduce a never-before-seen product to market as well as Apple. Google and Facebook are some of those companies, and there are a few others, but not many.
Some companies invent products, others invent markets. The latter are the juggernauts.