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David Abramowski

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Apple iPad message – evoking emotion and ego in a single line of text

The hype of the iPad has started to fade as the device flew off the shelves this past weekend. After the first wave of enthusiasts have purchased the device it is now up to the Apple marketing engine to make a move and try to follow the path of the iPhone instead of the path of AppleTV.

The high level message for the iPad reads “a magical and revolutionary product at an unbelievable price.” At first glance it seems that they have improved slightly on the standard “faster, better, cheaper” mantra that explains  most consumer products. But once you put on your Apple branding lens, the line becomes more powerful.  In a single line Apple has captured both emotion and ego to drive their targeted audience from awareness to consideration in the purchase cycle of the iPad.

Let’s look at how this message works in context of the target audience and how it automatically positions around potential land mines.  From the messaging it’s pretty clear to me that the marketing team at Apple is targeting existing customers who already buy into the company brand.

Apple is using their brand equity to prove that the device is magical and revolutionary.   I’m not quite sure how you validate magical but the Apple brand helps them pull it off.  When you  first read the line did your inner child take over for just a second when you saw the word magical?  Did you think of unicorns, wizards and trolls?  Ok maybe not, but I’m pretty sure that most people will feel some type of emotion associated with magical.  It’s a good word to use and I’m sure it tested extremely well in focus groups.   The second word of importance is “revolutionary”.  The use of this word speaks directly to the Apple clan.  Throughout its history Apple has been seen as the one company outside the box.  This is a true band element that Apple can rely on year after year.  And by using the word revolutionary they evoke the ego of the target market.   If you are an Apple fan, you must have an iPad to continue showing that you are a rebel, you exist outside of Microsoft, you are a game changer.    On the flip side, how revolutionary is this device?  Its not like it’s a 3D display floating in space, now that would be a revolution!

The last part of the message “at an unbelievable price” is all about positioning and setting your mind at ease that you are getting a good deal.   If Apple say this line enough times, then it has got to be true right?  If you ask me, $499 isn’t unbelievable.  If this device was offered at $99 or even $199 then I’d totally agree.  But at $499, the same price as an entry level notebook computer, in my context it’s definitely not an unbelievable price – but hey they are taking their shot at trying to convince you right up front!

If Apple is successful with this messaging the next step you should see is the manipulation of reviews and discussions.  A good marketing engine will focus on emphasizing the message and try to suppress or lessen the attention to counter messaging or messaging from the competitors.

Personally I think that the messaging exposes two weaknesses right up front. First is pricing and second is usability with the web.    If I were an Apple competitor I’d go after both of these points directly and start to chip away at the “magic”.  At $499 the device is the same price as an entry level laptop from Dell that allows full interaction with the web in a form factor that is already commonly accepted.

Go one level deeper in the messaging and you’ll scratch your head just a little bit and realize they are again trying to position their way out of a potential downfall.  Look at the statement “the best way to experience the web, email, photos and videos. Hands down.”  You mean to tell me that this little device with no keyboard is going to give me a a better experience than my 27” iMac with Bose speakers, wireless keyboard and magic mouse?  I think not.  But good try.

The desired result of good messaging is sales.  If the product continues to drive deep into the existing Apple legions and starts to branch out beyond, then you can count it successful.  Only time will enable us to answer that question. But if you start to see words like magical, revolutionary and affordable littering all the reviews, blog posts and customer stories – then you know that the engine is hard at work.  Go ahead and keep researching the iPad and hyperlink yourself over to ReadWriteWeb where you can get a better glimpse at the device.  Pay attention to how many times they use the word magical!



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David Abramowski is a technologist turned product leader. David was a co-founder of Morph Labs, one of the first Platform as a Service plays on AWS. He was the GM for Parallels Virtuozzo containers, enterprise business, and most recently he is the leader of the product marketing team for the IT Operations Management solutions at the hyper growth SaaS company, ServiceNow.