With the iPad’s launch less than a week away, the hype machine is surging. Already, Apple fans are saying that the tablet will dominate the market and easily best any and all challengers. Analysts are predicting that Apple will sell up to 10 million units by the end of the year. And now that launch-day iPad preorders have sold out, it seems that Steve Jobs has hit upon another winner.
But maybe it’s too soon to make that prediction. The iPad hasn’t even hit store shelves yet. And we can’t forget that there are several competitors gunning for the same market. One of those competitors, the HP Slate, has a good chance of challenging the iPad on several fronts, thanks to its better connectivity features and Windows 7. In other words, this is all just hype. And Apple hasn’t done enough to live up to it yet.
Here’s what Apple needs to do to make sure the iPad lives up to the hype:
1. Meet demand
With the release of any product, it’s extremely important for a company to meet demand for its device. Apple is no different. Apple’s success in the tech industry can be a problem for the hardware company. Although its devices sell well, the demand for those devices is sometimes unprecedented. It will likely be facing similar demand for the iPad. The last thing the company needs is to explain why consumers can’t find iPads at the Apple Store or in Best Buy locations. As long as there are iPads on store shelves, Apple will be in good shape. But if not, trouble will ensue.
2. Consider Flash
Although Apple fans say that Flash is a dying Web standard that isn’t necessary on the iPad, it really is. The iPad is meant to be a mobile computing companion that allows users to surf the Web, check e-mail and use apps. But what good is a Web-browsing device if users can’t access the countless number of sites and Web pages that require Flash to run? Yes, it’s a security concern, but it’s certainly no worse than Windows or Internet Explorer. And look at all the people who use those applications.
3. Remember the mainstream
For now, the majority of iPad owners will be early adopters. Those folks are the most likely to pick up the latest and greatest device on the market. But bringing the mainstream to the iPad might not be so easy. Apple has to do a better job of marketing the product as a device that does more than help users check Facebook from the couch. Mainstream users are key to ensuring that the iPad lives up to its lofty expectations. Apple must remember that.
4. Play nice with developers
It’s quickly becoming clear that Apple has no intention of playing nice with developers. That’s a problem. The iPad’s key selling point is the ability to add applications to the device. If Apple continues to browbeat developers for little or no reason, the company could have some trouble on its hands. Developers might finally have enough and move to other devices where App Store regulations aren’t so tough. And in the process, consumers might start moving to devices where a wider selection of applications is readily available.
Improved OS, Keep Pressure On
5. Improve iPhone OS
Apple is expected to improve iPhone OS later this year. Previously, those updates only applied to the iPhone and iPod Touch. But since the iPad runs iPhone OS, it can apply those same updates to the tablet. That’s an important element of Apple being able to match the iPad’s hype. Apple’s iPhone OS is just fine for a smartphone. But for a tablet, it leaves much to be desired. When the HP Slate hits store shelves later this year, consumers will find a full-fledged operating system-Windows 7-running on the device. Apple doesn’t have that. And it could stunt the iPad’s growth.
6. Keep the pressure on
If Apple can do anything, it is putting pressure on competitors. Unlike so many other companies in the tech industry that simply follow a leader into a market, Apple blazes new trails. And by doing so, it has been able to enjoy the kind of success few other companies in the space can. Apple needs to continue to apply that pressure on its competition. The more updates it can pump out over the coming weeks, the better. Such a strategy will help it easily stand out in the marketplace, regardless of what the competition offers.
7. Bring on the multitasking
One of the major issues most folks will find with the iPad is its lack of multitasking. If a user attempts to run, say, Pandora’s music app and then switch to the iPad’s Mail application, Pandora will shut down. That’s a real problem. Once again, the iPad is not a smartphone and Apple is marketing the device as a mobile computer. Mobile computers need multitasking. If Apple really wants the iPad to live up to its hype, the company will need to find a way to bring true multitasking to the device. It’s simply a must-have feature.
8. Consider connectivity
In order for iPad owners to connect the tablet to a USB device, users will need to buy accessories. In other words, connecting a USB printer will take an additional component. The HP Slate, on the other hand, offers full USB connectivity built-in. That’s an important distinction. Hype is about sales. And although the iPad’s sales will undoubtedly be high in the coming weeks, once the allure is gone and people see it for what it is, will those connectivity problems prove troublesome? It’s certainly possible.
9. Marketing is key
Apple is one of the leading marketing companies in the tech industry. The company’s commercials are second to none. Each spot does a fine job of showing users how the device works and why it’s worth buying. Not too many other companies in the space can achieve such success in a single commercial. Apple will need to achieve similar results if it wants the iPad to be a success. As mentioned above, the iPad will first appeal to early adopters. But once the mainstream starts thinking about it, they will need some help from Apple to get them to the store. Good commercials and solid advertising efforts will help them with that.
10. Stay true to Apple’s brand
The best thing Apple can do to ensure the iPad lives up to its hype is to stay true to what Apple is as a company. Apple is about innovation, uniqueness and entertainment. The company doesn’t want to be Microsoft. It doesn’t even plan to be Google. Apple simply provides a unique experience in its products that other companies can’t match. It needs to do the same with the iPad.
In short, Apple needs to remind us in every decision that it makes that the iPad is made by Apple. And that it will deliver an Apple-like experience.