The launch of the iPad achieved the hype and PR Apple will have been wanting. And the coverage has been immense since.
What, however, are the implications for brands when the iPad ships in March?
The launch of the iPad achieved the hype and PR Apple will have been wanting. And the coverage has been immense since. What, however, are the implications for brands when the iPad ships in March?
Well, much has been said about the cost – starting at US$499/GBP$313 for 16GB iPad (though what will be the UK premium?). Looking at these US costs against the iTouch and the iPhone implies that the iPad is likely to be subsidised because of the expected Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). Both the hardware (and chipset is new) and the software is bespoke for the iPad so this is a sensible assumption.
Taking this into account, what are the likely implications for brands?
I forsee a number of possible scenarios and there being a fallout because of changed dynamics.
Will the increase in penetration of full-screen web access outside home change the dynamic of the web?
In 2008, 7,000,000 mini-notebooks were shipped in EMEA (according to IDC) and whilst there has there had been speculation that the netbook was dead (according to the BBC), the iPad is seeking to change everything. Combining fast on/off will make web access easier and faster to interact.
So more net users and more time surfing – and this could impact on brands share of voice online. If three-quarters of the UK population (internet users) surf the net most days, according to the IAB, then arguably an iPad is going to only increase this interaction.
The iPad has been shown as tactile, ergonomic and lightweight. Does this make a difference?
Arguably a machine that is more comfortable to use for accessing the net, far more than a desktop and a lot more than a heavy laptop, will enhance user experience. We’ve all waited for a laptop to power up, after finding a power point in Starbucks, and then having to wait for a WiFi signal.
However, one of the criticisms of the iPad is the on-screen keyboard. Could this make a difference if there was a vast uptake of the iPad – in terms of writers limiting their typing, and therefore the content they write? Maybe on a small sample, no – but if the iPad sells in the same numbers as the iPhone or iPod, then arguably there could be a shift in, uploaded, written content. Could the iPad advance the 140 character communication threshold?
Location awareness in everything (according to Steve Woods at Digital Body Language) – well for those with a 3G iPad and mobile contract. How does this impact?
The ability to use the iPad to search, in real-time, using location-based data could, arguably, create a step change in user experience. I foresee a time shoppers will be standing in the electrical appliance department in John Lewis, Kingston, comparing the live price of a Neff Dishwasher with Currys, checking the ratings and reviews, looking for alternative stockists locally, checking delivery charges and warranty – all full screen, all there on an iPad. And then negotiating on price based on this knowledge.
With the iPad offering full-screen video and content that is location-relevant and user-relevant, will consumers (shoppers) become more demanding? With the shopping example above, alongside reviews and price, brands having a 60-second product demo video on the page will enhance user experience, and improve product information.
With techs seeking the end of IE6, cross browser testing has always been a bugbear in web development, being time and cost consuming. However, this is now an even greater requirement to ensure Safari compatibility. But is it all about Safari?
No. I see it as broader than this. And I see it broader than the prescriptive user experience.
I see it as more attitudinal, in that iPad users could need to be treated with a unique, bespoke user journey. iPad visitors to a retailer website – say Monsoon, the fashion store – will have instant access to an updated storefinder link. It is GPS based and details directions to the door. For non-GPS users, a user-friendly search box (read “incorrect postcode”) guides you there. The page links seamlessly to the blog, user comments and fashion pages – all talking account of the non-availability of Adobe Flash on the iPad. Reason is that users are more likely to be mobile – so are searching in realtime.
David Deal, Marketing, at Razorfish comments that the iPad offers ” … functionality … to deploy richer experiences and (an) immersive content interface … on a reading device“. It is fair to say that the iPad is a lot more than just a reading device – and away from the hype, it has the potential to offer a new, and improved web user experience which brands can be part of, and pro-actively develop.
Paid for content
The viability of paywalled content is now here. Well, somewhat still dependent on the success/penetration/sales of the iPad. Will this effect brands?
Yes. It will prove the returning relevance of print media (again according to Steve Woods at Digital Body Language) – or possibly the long-term saviour. With Johnson Press already testing pay-walling (see my earlier post on this), the significance of this move cannot be underestimated.
However, will users who are paying for content want also to be bombarded with advertising? Marketing Vox, comments on the response from Sarah Chubb of Condé Nast Digital, who said that they are setting up an in-house ad agency to focus on best practice for e-readers. That said, Ian Schafer, CEO, Deep Focus comments “If people are going to be paying for content a la carte, they are going to be less tolerant of that content being ad-supported, odds are that the advertising is going to be relegated to the world of apps.”
With Apple taking a percentage from each micropayment, thus creating a revenue stream and maximising monitisation of the CLV – pay-walling can only be seen to have a new life.
The requirement is for brands to think now about the implications for online advertising, within a paid environment, and where PR, advertorials and apps will play a role.
As with any new technology platform, that is digitally led, the iPad is only a device and only one device. The limitations are already being discussed (no camera, no direct USB, no multitasking, requirement to migrate to HTML5 for a Flash experience amongst others) so like all product launches, along with the opportunities there are drawbacks.
However, content wise, the hardware and applications will move the web forward a step and brands need to account for this within marketing planning.
Navigating the emerging landscape
#typed notes explores the emerging landscape from an insiders perspective, commenting on futurology, social media, brand planning and anthropology. And inspiration
He is Founding Partner at Metropolis Partners