Saturday 26 June 2010

What is iPad?

Creating a new category can be hard. People know what a phone is so the fact that actually making calls from a smart phone is now a secondary function for many people doesn't stop it being marketed as a phone.

The iPad is different though.

It's not a phone, but is has 3G.
It's not a laptop, but it has a web browser.
It's not a TV but it plays and streams videos.
It's not a games machine, but it has thousands of games.

It's something new.

People will buy it because it looks beautiful, is intriguing and has an Apple badge. People will use it because it fills a need.

So as the owner of a new shiny iPad I was intrigued as to how I would use it.

What I've noticed is I use it differently to a laptop. Sure I web browse on it, check my email on it, access Facebook on it - even read my work email on it and review attached documents on it.

But I don't use it in the same way.

Whereas previously I'd have spent longer in my social networks on a laptop, I find the apps get a greater share of use on the iPad.

On the laptop, the browser was the centre of the entertainment, on the iPad though the machine itself is the entertainment. If my usage is in any way indicative of how others use it then I think this is important for brands and how information and access is provided for customers.

Brands are used to providing websites and micro sites for consumers and increasingly have been integrating into social networks like Facebook because, frankly, this is where consumers actually spend their time. However with the iPad, I think consumers will expect more interaction through the applications - providing quick, easy access to information.

When they want to track the status of an order, the number of points they've accumulated or even browse a product or reward catalogue, increasingly I think consumers will want these as applications. It's likely that as with all things, consumers will have limited space for individual brands in a given category, so those providing a great application experience will probably get increased loyalty and that front of page position.

One great example of this is Pizza Hut. They saw online orders increase exponentially when they introduced an iPhone app for ordering pizza. As with all pizza brands, they already had an online website, but the introduction of a specific application increased engagement within their key 18-34 demographic. Its popularity was confirmed with over 1m downloads and a number-two free app position.

Like the Pizza hut app though, applications available today tend to have been designed for the iPhone. It's about information on the move or in the moment. Accessing my loyalty card, reviewing my friends statuses, ordering pizza or searching for a new contact in LinkedIn.

The iPad though is different. It's a more sit back and browse experience - time is available and users will want experiences. They will want entertaining. Brands providing a compelling innovative experience will be rewarded with increased dwell time leading to greater engagement. The Financial Times application for example is a much more engaging experience on the iPad than the website version - it's tactile and draws you in.

In the end though what the iPad "is" may take a little more time to define and Apple is certainly hedging its bets with it's latest advert saying :-

What is iPad?
iPad is thin,
iPad is beautiful,
iPad goes anywhere,
and lasts all day,
there’s no right way,
or wrong way,
it’s crazy powerful,
it’s magical,
you already know how to use it,
it’s 200,000 apps and counting,
all the world’s websites in your hands,
it’s video, photos,
more books than you could read in a lifetime,
it’s already a revolution,
and it’s only just begun.

I think the last two lines sum it up perfectly - the iPad is a revolution that has only just begun and ultimately, what brands choose to do with it will be as interesting as the consumers.


Gordon Mullan said...

I think the challenge with an apps-driven environment is, rather like loyalty cards for retailers, not ending up with dozens and dozens of apps to keep track of the various loyalty schemes you're a member of.

If someone could design a meta-app that centralised all my loyalty memberships information, and perhaps even monitored where I was browsing and prompted me which loyalty programme could offer me a reward or discount when I'm shopping online, I think that could be powerful.

It's all about the data...

Anonymous said...

I agree Gordon, that could be an issue. However, most people have a very small number of brands which they are actually loyal to - the challenge is to get into this inner circle. As for the promo-tarts who will collect anything which is free - whilst an app may provide convenience for them, it's very unlikely to provide profitable, loyal customers for any brand taking part.

Gordon Mullan said...

Maybe it's just me, but I can't shut my wallet as I carry the following loyalty cards, and use all them of frequently enough to want to:

- Boots Advantage
- Nectar
- Co-op
- Tesco
- Staples Business
- Costco (granted it's a membership card)

- Subway
- Costa Coffee
- Blockbuster (again, membership)
- Ikea Family
- Game
- Toys R Us
- Waterstones
- Johnsons Cleaners

I can't believe I'm *that* unusual. I would expect most people to have half a dozen.

And let's not forget that's not counting all the online only sites like Cokezone, etc.

I think any meta-app would probably have to be an independent provider, but if, based on usage/browsing patterns, that provider could recommend additional loyalty schemes to a user, that might be a proposition brands would be interested in?

At the very least, as a paid app, there might be a revenue stream there. It would however require brands to open up a view into their data via an authenticated web service or similar. I can see they wouldn't want to expose purchase patterns.

However, exposing current account points balance, plus things the points could be used to purchase (for matching when a user is browsing) would increase consumption of the scheme. Certainly, with all the different schemes, I know there have been times when I've bought stuff on or offline that I could have used points for but just didn't realise because it would need me to refer to the scheme website or (worse) hardcopy booklet.

If I could scan the barcode of the item, and the app tells me which of the schemes has points I could use to buy that item (quite possible from a different retailer), and the effective price, that would be cool.

There are already 'scan and comparison shop' apps - perhaps this could be an extension to one of those e.g. Pricerunner, Kelkoo, etc.?