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Mobile Innovation: Apple leading the way with iPad?

Apple's iPad

2010 seems likely to be the year that mobile communications technologies take hold of the average consumer market. With Apple’s iPhone and iTouch experiencing increasing sales and the strategic move of Google to introduce the Nexus this year, consumers are set to experience innovation in products, services and applications perhaps as much a facet of competition between the evolving interests of these two market competitors, as the actual need for the consumer to experience new technologies.

Take the iPad for example, is there really any need for this product, does it solve any new problems, or does it demonstrate the need for apple to distinguish its mobile offerings from its competitors? There is much commodity camaraderie wrapped up in the brand of apple, customers are often blindly allegiant to them, innovation is central to consumers views of the Apple brand to some degree, Apple are forced to innovate and present new offerings before their competitors, because not to do so could conflict with the core principles of the Apple brand and their consumers expectations. We all look to Apple for innovative technologies; to see them miss the boat would compromise their consumer credibility.

“And then there will be the tablets. Most industry observers, including Gadget Lab, expect Apple to release a tablet device, possibly called the iSlate or iGuide, sometime in 2010. Other major manufacturers, including HP, Dell, Intel, Nokia and HTC have been rumoured to be working on tablet-style devices. Smaller companies including Fusion Garage, Notion Ink and ICD have announced plans for tablets in 2010. And many publishers, including Wired’s parent company, Conde Nast, are already working on the software to display e-magazines and other content on tablet devices.Wired Magazine

So with this extract from Wired in mind, is it really any surprise that Apple released the iPad when they did? So other than looking to Apple for innovation, what else is it that motivates consumer uptake of Apple’s new products? If there is no real market need for some of Apple’s products, then why do consumers choose Apple’s offerings over that of their competitors? Perhaps it is this? Apple has an established brand, successful product suite and epitomise values of quality and innovation. Their products often take novel and interesting approaches to what could be argued as inconsequential problems, but utilise new ways of using existing technologies or utilising developments in new media.

Apple are market leaders in technology push innovation rather than relying on market pull. Apple are design led and seek out new market opportunities as triggers for innovation, rather than relying on, or waiting for consumer or market demand for new products or services to trigger their design and innovation processes. To this avail, it is Apple’s brand values and business approach that are integral to ensuring their products remain ahead of the game. In short, they don’t concentrate on current problems; they seek out new ones to inspire further innovation.


Rustylink said...

Yesterday I watched my grandson playing games on iPhone. He demonstrated a rare degree of concentratin and dexterity … I was impressed. His mother’s reaction was to wonder if she should get him an iPad so that he could have a larger screen. But my reaction was rather different.

I could understand the desire for a larger screen, but does an iPad represent a useful innovation? Not as I understand innovation. As ever, Apple has provided us with a beautiful object that almost caresses the hand that holds it; perhaps it only lacks the scent of roses and the odour of purpose.

The rapid evolution of technology is likely to leave iPad struggling to become a ‘Super iPhone’ or fighting to avoid being regarded as a stunted version of a reader or small portable computer. It is difficult to see, given the increasingly low cost of powerful CPUs and memory, why someone would choose to purchase and use a stunted portable computer, however attactively packaged it might be. Yet if iPad was to evolve and become a rather special version of a mobile phone with a particularly comfortable or useful screen, one that could be used for games, for email, word processing, and as a digital book reader, it might satisfy a genuine need and open up a more lasting niche market. But, that kind of product will depend on the continued development of satisfactory rechargeable battery life.

But at present, iPad appears to be a product designed to fill a marketer’s percieved gap in a product range rather than to satisfy a defined and genuine requirement. If I purchase a small portable computer, hopefully with an equally pleasing design, why do I need an iPad? The price differerence, if any, cannot concievably justify the loss of functionally involved in opting for an iPad rather than an unpretentious portable notebook or computer.

Certainy the iPad helps Apple give the impression of providing a comprehensive range of digital products for Apple fans; perhaps that is the underlying justification for the iPad. That still leads me wondering if I should get my grandson an ipad despite my strong reservations concerning the utility of such a product. As he has not yet been given a PC he might for a short time find an iPad a wonderful source of simple games. But I fear as soon as he graduates to his own PC, an iPad, without the availability of children’s comics and books and without the pretention of being a ’super mobile phone[, will end up at the bottom of his toy cupboard.


Matt Gill said...

As good an article as this is, and it is, i think the industry & consumers as a whole are missing the point…

Its not the iPad industry that’s at stake here. The laptop sector is dead in the water.

The singular fact in all of this is that laptops are now the interim product, not tablets.

Will i replace my iMac when it dies. Yes.

Will i replace my iPhone when it dies. Yes

Will i replace either my Macbook or Macbook Pro. Nope ill buy an iPad. No matter how much power u stick in a laptop it’ll never be as good as a desktop. So ill do my power hungry 3d work at my desk.

Do i need 4gb or ram or a 250gb hard drive in a large uncomfortable to use laptop just to view stuff on the internet, type letters or watch a tv show on the train? Nope. Laptops have always been too powerful for the average consumer and not powerful enough for professional usage.

And for those who argue that they do all their work on a laptop sat at a desk.. Why? why not buy a desktop machine?

Why restrict urself to a 15″ screen and smaller keyboard? Do u gain in Portability? course not … u still need a desk to use a laptop for proper work..

Within 2 years the iPad (or similar) will consume the laptop market. If u want proof, as i mentioned i have two laptops. Since i brought my iPhone the only thing i ever use a laptop for is as an extra render node.. Otherwise i never even turn them on..

ps my “blind allegiance” to Apple requires that i point out the lack of a capital A at the start of the word Apple in one case. :)