Marketing Warfare: The iPad Battle

First, I want to share my complete frustration in the launch of the Apple iPad.   I want this known upfront that when I saw the product release notes I was not happy.  I wanted all the rumors. I loved all the capabilities that had been talked up so much in the past year.  These are just some of the things that made my mouth drool:

  • Duel Screen Mode: just set it down next to your Apple desktop and it becomes a second monitor
  • iPhone Capable: with a 100 mile Blue Tooth range for the head set (OK I was trying to start that BT rumor)
  • PBX Mode: Multiple simultaneous phone users (OK I just made that up, but damn, wouldn’t that be so cool!)
  • MAC OS/X OS: to replace all my future desktop needs, including running Parallel to run all my Windows apps.
  • Multi-Process Capable: Run 20,000 apps at the same time,  with no performance degradation!
  • Distributed Processing Capable: Desktop PC CPU’s maxed out, no problem use my iPad quads!
  • MEGA Memory: New crystal memory providing several Tera-flops!
  • MEGA Disk Space: New solid state device providing several Google-flops!

Oh yes,  and there was some minor mention of this device being the best eReader on the market.  I guess that’s important to.  I evaluated and used the Kindle DX and thought it was OK.  The B&N nook completely underwhelmed me.    The Plastic Logic QUE looks very promising.  Even the B&N nook sales rep pointed me to the QUE stating it was a better match for me then the nook.

So I’ve had some time now to let things sink in.  I’m going to stop pouting and having my little iPad tantrums  (Picture the TV commercial in which the gamers realize they rented or bought another bad game and completely lose it!)  Since I am a marketing expert I thought I better sit down an analyze this in the context of Marketing Warfare and have an intelligent response rather then trash any office I’m in when the topic of the iPad comes up!

Based on my analysis, Apple clearly thinks, and I believe they are, number 1 in the portable media consumption domain. The iPad is a defensive move to strengthen their position in this space.

Leaders Play Defense

“The defensive form of war is in itself stronger then the offense.” – Karl von Clauswitz

Only leaders should play defense.  It’s much easier to defend high ground with well entrenched troops then to fight your way up a hill trying to take over those high dug in positions.  So let’s break down the case that Apple is playing the role of the leader in Portable Media Consumption and has waged a defensive move to solidify it’s position by looking at the three principles of Defensive Warfare.

Only the market leader should consider playing defense

If we look at some the categories with Portable Media Consumption we find some startling Apple numbers.   These are some of the numbers I’ve found thus far:

  • Music – 10 billion songs downloaded
  • Audio Books – over 20,000 titles
  • Audio Podcasts – over 125,000 titles
  • Video Podcasts – over 25,000 titles
  • Movies – over 2 million full length movies sold
  • Applications – over 2 billion applications downloaded
  • TV Shows – over 200,000 episodes sold

I like to call this Apple domain the iUniverse.  They are #1 in music downloads,  the #1 on-line movie store, and the #1 in music sales.

The best defense strategy is the courage to attack yourself.

Always create a moving target for your competition.  This is accomplished by attacking yourself.  Every area of your product leadership in the marketplace needs to be recreated and renewed.   Apple has a strong history of doing that by releasing new versions of it’s wildly popular devices and environments:

  • Shuffle – 3rd generation
  • iPod – 9th generation
  • nano – 5th generation
  • Touch – 2nd generation
  • iTunes – version 9
  • TV – iTunes integration with control from iPhone or Touch
  • iPhone – 3rd generation

Strong competitive moves should always be blocked.

First lets look at the competitor moves of B&N + Plastic Logic, and Amazon. These companies have strong showings in one are of portable media consumption – digital books and periodicals.   These companies could create a set of products and user environments that would erode Apples position as leader in the Portable Media Consumption.  In many ways this has occurred because Apple has not reacted quickly enough to the strong acceptance of the Kindle.

The B&N and Plastic Logic partnership is a serious concern.  Here you have a strong device which outperforms (on paper) the Kindle and is coupled with the library of books and magazines available through B&N. Yes, it’s minus some of the cutie features of the nook like in-store book browsing, but that wouldn’t be too hard to change.  The point is the QUE is positioned as a business Pro Reader.  It can be your eBook reader, present your MS files,  remote sync with your folders back on the office server, sync your calendar, and sync your email.

What’s to stop either B&N/Plastic Logic or Amazon from moving into a space like ‘business users’ and create the needed user development tools and begin to compete head on with Apple in all other areas of the iUniverse.  It could conceivably happen.  Again, because of the slow reaction by Apple to these threats.

Not Offensive Flanking or Guerrilla

Let’s quickly run through the other marketing warfare possibilities: Offensive Attacks, Flanking Attacks, and Guerrilla Attacks.  These items are taken from Marketing Warfare by Al Ries.

Offensive Marketing (waged by #2 on the leader)

  1. The main consideration is the strength of the leader’s position. – If they are attacking a leader, I don’t see it so I can’t figure out what strength they would have focused on.
  2. Find the weakness in the leader’s strength and attack at that point. – Since I don’t see them targeting a leader and it’s strength, I can’t figure out the weakness inside the strength.
  3. Launch the attack on as narrow a front as possible. – This launch seems anything but focused on a narrow objective, and everything like a line extension to the iUniverse

Flanking Marketing (waged by #3 or all others on #2 or #1)

  1. A good flanking move must be made into a uncontested area. – Lots of tablets already, lots of eReaders, this is not uncontested ground.
  2. Tactical surprise ought to be an important element of the plan. – This was very publicized in the rumor mills with strategic leaks.  No surprise it was coming
  3. The pursuit is just as critical as the attack itself. – If this does become a success and they really pour it on, who actually loses the market share?  Back to who is the target?

Guerrilla Marketing

  1. Find a segment of the market small enough to defend. – This product actually overlaps several segments.
  2. No matter how successful you become, never act like the leader. – too late.
  3. Be prepared to bug out at a moment’s notice. – I don’t think they will give this up, it expands the iUniverse.

In Conclusion

I think this product release is a wise move on Apple’s part, if not a bit late.    Kindle must think twice about it’s next move.  B&N and Plastic Logic must weigh how much they want to pursue the ‘business’ niche front and pour in more resource to draw users away from Apple. (I’m seeing PC vs Mac all over again on this one)   Also, expect mainstream application integration by next year from Apple if they want to keep the QUE’s of the world at bay.    Expect Apple to continue to attack itself.  Next year will have a newer better version with more capabilities.  Each new iteration always better then the last and continuing to create moving targets for their competitors.

You can find my notes for this post on my MindMeister Mind Map at Marketing Warfare: The iPad Battle.

I’d like to know your thoughts on this post and the Apple iPad.  Please leave me your comments.

Offensive Marketing

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  1. #1 by natetbrown on April 7, 2010 - 11:43 pm

    I agree. Great analysis! The main thing is the market; is there a market out there, or is apple trying to create a new one? Also, are they trying to challenge netbooks or computers. If so, they need to improve a lot!

    • #2 by Tim Rueb on April 8, 2010 - 9:46 am

      @natetbrown Thanks for the comment. I don’t see them trying to attack the netbooks or computer market, but I think it will erode the netbook market. As for the market, I see the opportunity for large screen media like moves, videos, business documents / presentations, and photos. Having seen a movie or two on my son’s iPod touches I can tell you I wish the screens were larger. I also expect that TV programing will go the route similar to podcaste subscriptions. I expect consumers will demand content based on their schedule rather then some network programmer deciding which night and hour slot is best to compete with other channel programing. I see Cable and TV on-demand programming a similar model, with the user being completely portable and not tied to a home box. Now throw on top of this the accessory to attach to an external monitor like a projector system and the business community has a means to show their presentations and documents.

      Most importantly, it keeps all these other knock-offs from thinking about challenging Apple with the entire environment creating a foundation of delivery and sales.

  2. #3 by tuananh108 on April 15, 2010 - 10:35 am

    a good analysis

    • #4 by Tim Rueb on April 15, 2010 - 8:45 pm

      @tuanan108 Thanks. I appreciate the comment.

  3. #5 by Edmond Hennessy on July 16, 2010 - 10:32 pm

    Tim – there are many reasons that we were attracted to your blog topic.
    Will attempt to economize on the response, however the emphasis on Market Warfare and the reference/implications to the Apple iPad drew us in.
    We have a long-standing, appreciation of the valuable contributions that Trout & Ries have made – this response is not designed to challenge or take shots at their perspectives and work. In fact, they have been catalysts for our 2+ decades of applying Market Warfare fundamentals to business challenges, opportunities and core problems. We are also products of the High-Tech Industry. We have two views on the Market Dynamics: 1) Market Warfare basics withstanding – the market is at a formulative stage – it is difficult to declare any player, as the undisputed leader. Considering that Apple’s iPad is an element of a Defensive Strategy seems premature or unjustified. There may be a jockeying for position and attempts to gain share, however not sure Strategically that Apple, Amazon and B&N are shooting for the same destination. If anything, it is the traditional publishing and media firms that are shaking in their boots and regrouping. 2) A little different perspective, however we just introduced a killer app implemented on an Apple iPad for one of our clients demonstrating their 3D Simulation/Immersive repair and maintenance training application for the Raytheon Patriot Missile Radar Program. What a powerful information/promotional platform. The response from the Top 60 Defense Contractors/Integrators, Program Offices/Agencies and Government/Military End-Users was overwhelming.
    Hope that other Industry professionals respond to your interesting blog topic.
    Good Hunting!

    Edmond Hawkeye Hennessy
    Performance Marketing Group
    Author: Market Warfare: Leadership & Domination Over Competitors
    A breakthrough book endorsed by Jay Conrad Levinson –
    The Father of Guerrilla Marketing

    • #6 by Tim Rueb on July 17, 2010 - 7:03 pm


      Firstly thanks for the reply to my post, and I have added your book to my future reading list.

      Secondly, I do see Apple as the leader in ‘Portable Media Consumption’ category and have yet to see any other player in this space with the same offering, capabilities, or ecosystem surrounding this category. There might be individual tools in this space that might challenge or attack Apple in this space but no one has the overall environment to challenge them.

      In addition, I am sure your 3D training application on the iPad is most impressive and very specialized, my point would be that more generic application have a wonderful home in iTunes. How many entrepreneurs would have an e-commerce platform with such a large user base in place to promote their product? Based on what I’ve research, Apple is running away with this right now.

      Again thanks for your comment. I really do appreciate it.

      Good Hunting,

  4. #7 by Edmond Hennessy on July 18, 2010 - 8:44 am

    Tim – your considerate and informed response is valued.
    Want to make sure that it is clear that we are on-the-same-page regards Apple’s position and the dynamics that are unfolding in the Portable Media Consumption space.
    It will be interesting to see how this takes shape – clearly, unless “Market Disruption” takes place (later on), Apple is in a commanding position.
    My point about early-stage is a reflection on current volume (revenue), market position/share – watch how this accelerates and mushrooms over the next 18-24 months.
    Being around the block for a long time and a continuous fan of Apple – thru many up-and-down, periods – it is refreshing to see them on-a-roll and clearly back, as the Force.
    What a statement about persistence, determination, come-back and innovation – it also rivals the so-called, experts out there that get arrogant, opinionated and full of themselves – to show another example of bucking the trend and – defining and setting their own (blazing new trails).
    Not familiar with you, your business and area of expertise, however keep up this useful and informative work.

    The Market Warfare Guy

    • #8 by Tim Rueb on July 23, 2010 - 3:30 pm


      I think we are on the same page. The wonderful thing about today’s business dynamics, they are always changing, and we get to learn from it.

      My analysis of the iPad didn’t consider sales volume, simply the new cost barrier to Apple’s competitors who wanted to attack Apple in this one area (and a weakness) of their hold of the portable media consumption.

      I fully expect them to release iPad 2 before others change their plans to attack the iPad 1. I think OS4, forward camera for video calls, etc. will be out in time to make their competitors frustrated and wondering where the moving target will be next.

      Thanks again for your comments.

      Good Hunting

  5. #9 by Matt on September 3, 2010 - 2:54 pm

    Next generation products are on the horizon it’s no longer what single products can do but how easily can they all do them together. It’s funny that apple introduced Airplay because I predicted being able to walk in the house and throw the video onto your TV.
    Taking a look at your predictions. I think the top 2 are really the only ones that will come into play. If you have tried Airdisplay on the ipad, it does just that and makes your ipad your second monitor. With the Apple TV now being able to do this soon you will see an opening of the API so it’s not just media that can be shown on the Apple TV but any game you play can use your iphone as the controller, and the tv as the viewer. The future is coming you just have to know the technology to read it well.

    • #10 by Tim Rueb on September 3, 2010 - 4:50 pm

      Matt – my ‘predictions’ were really jabs at the gossip mill that was going on before the actual release of the product. It’s not that I think they’ll happen, it’s that I wanted to add to the rumor mill and have some fun with it.

      Thanks for leaving a comment.

  6. #11 by Dexter Zbranek on October 18, 2010 - 8:34 pm

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    • #12 by Tim Rueb on October 19, 2010 - 4:31 pm

      Welcome Dexter and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  7. #13 by branchenbuch on October 21, 2010 - 7:18 pm

    Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds

    • #14 by Tim Rueb on October 22, 2010 - 8:36 am

      Thanks for stopping by branchenbuch

  8. #15 by Lynda on November 30, 2010 - 10:50 am

    Useful information shared I’m really pleased to see this particular post..thanks for providing people wonderful tips.Great walk-through. I truly appreciate this post.

  9. #17 by Tim Rueb on November 4, 2010 - 3:01 pm

    Jake … Thanks for the comment and for stopping by

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