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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- A good flanking move must be made into a uncontested area. – Lots of tablets already, lots of eReaders, this is not uncontested ground.
- 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
- 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?
- Find a segment of the market small enough to defend. – This product actually overlaps several segments.
- No matter how successful you become, never act like the leader. – too late.
- Be prepared to bug out at a moment’s notice. – I don’t think they will give this up, it expands the iUniverse.
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.