What geeks and marketers can learn from the next 60 days

I woke up today to hear two NPR stories about the iPad.

Story 1 was a technology analyst blasting the device because it doesn’t have a camera and so, therefore, isn’t taking advantage of social media.

Story 2 was a publishing analyst describing the device as a savior of book publishing.

Of course, both of these analysts are right — and wrong.

The first analyst sees the iPad as a Swiss Army Knife that left off a cork screw and being a wine lover, he can’t understand why anyone would want a Swiss Army Knife without a cork screw.

The second analyst sees the iPad as a Kindle with color and video that will enable publishers to have an alternative to the pricing on Amazon — which publishers hate.

Like I said, both are right — and wrong.

Over the next 60 days, Apple will start bombarding the channels of traditional (old) media defining what one can do with the iPad. They will never mention features. Only what one can do.

The people who purchase the iPad will use it 90% of the time to do 4-5 things they’d rather do on the move than sitting at a computer.

The people who purchase the iPad will use it because they already own an iPhone and would like to watch movies or read books or tweak a presentation on a 9 1/2 inch screen rather than a micro-screen.

The people who purchase the iPad will use it because it will help them define themselves to those around them.

I could go on-and-on about the reasons people who purchase it will do so.

Watch. Learn.

It’s not about features something has or does not have.

And it’s not about what missing features prevent someone from doing.

It’s about what the existing features enable someone to do.

That’s all.

Bonus linkage: As I’ve said often, the only person worth reading on this topic is John Gruber. Again, his perspective is original and insightful.

About Rex Hammock

Founder/ceo of Hammock Inc., the customer media and content company based in Nashville, Tenn. Creator of and head-helper at SmallBusiness.com.
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  • http://gravitationalpull.net/wp/ ampressman

    Agreed that Gruber is generally god like about all things Mac (though he's been occasionally off on his read of the ereader market), here's one thing he had to say yesterday after the unveiling, referring to the Kindle iPhone/iPod/iPad app: “I wouldn't be surprised if the Kindle ends up being more popular a source of ebooks than Apple's own iBook store.” (That was in the midst of this interesting 15-minute interview he did with CBC's Nora Young http://?df.ws/ei5)

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/dwllsn David Willson

    Well, sorry. I beg to differ. Not on your general premise of how people relate to technology. That's sound. But the points that you raise about the iPad keep leading me back to wondering who the large market is for this device and the lack of video and snapshot capabilities.

    If the people who purchase the iPad do it partly because it will define them (status symbol), then many iPhone users will not buy the device. The iPhone is ubiquitous among CEOs, investment bankers, hot shot entrepreneurs and upper level management types. They call to get things done, check their mail and fire off directives with them, but the last thing they would be caught doing is carrying around a big daily planner or scratch pad … that is for their executive assistant, secretary or mid-level management to bring to meetings and follow them around with. No status symbol there.

    Yes, salesmen with presentations. But no to the person who they're trying to make the sale too.

    Maybe yes for the cheap WiFi version in school systems as an alternative to more expensive laptops, where they are providing the computers and connections. This is the one case where the lack of social networking capabilities would make sense.

    And really, the device is not even remotely iPhone related. No phone capabilities. Even the 3G service is restricted to data only by AT&T. So it's not geared toward the iPhone audience anyway. It's a big iPod Touch with a microprocessor that will allow full versions of Apple software to leap over to a more portable device from laptops, plus iPhone apps. That's all.

    To take this to a personal level (I've been a legacy Mac user since 1990) I don't own an iPhone. My little slim cellphone that I can slip in my pocket and forget about until it rings works just fine. And I'm still using my iPod Classic even though the phono jack's getting a little loose. Why? We'll, I would spring for an iPod Touch because of the nice screen and WiFi but … wait for it … it doesn't have a camera, like the Nano. An iPod Touch with a camera. Now that would be cool. But no.

    The only reason I can figure that Apple doesn't add a camera to the iTouch is apparently because they want me to spring for an iPhone. To me, withholding features that customers want, so they'll have to buy devices they don't want, is not good marketing or corporate practice.

  • http://rexblog.com Rex Hammock

    I don't get the no camera — but on my dream machine, there would be a camera facing the user — for iChat video / Skype.

  • Keith Phillips

    Good points — this one device is not all things for all people. Full-on tablet computers and possibly even future generations of the iPad will no doubt offer all of the things the critics say are “missing.” The free market will do what it does best, sorting out and meeting consumer demands with multiple solutions/devices/features/channels. For my personal needs — they nailed it, right down to the keyboard dock and travel case.

    More importantly, it's what I hoped someone would finally bring to market to allow effective electronic delivery of newspaper and magazine content. The iPad and certain tablet computers in the works will allow publishers to deliver professionally created and attractively packaged text-based content that is fully-enabled by the multimedia tools and interactivity of the Web AND the tablet. A “magazine” will no longer necessarily be defined by the physical form of paper pages, but rather by the mix and quality of text-based and rich-media content. (See: the Sports Illustrated demo). With paper, postage and ink costs taken out of the equation, for-profit publishing just might make sense again. Advertisers will no longer be asked to (literally) pay the freight and we can offer them creative, cost-effective rate structures and trackability that even the Web can't deliver. Publishers will be able to turn a profit and find it advantageous to invest in quality content in order to compete. Readers, advertisers and shareholders will all be better served. It really could be the dawn of a new era in publishing.

    Wishful thinking on my part? You bet! But the technology and the form factor for electronic magazine delivery has at last been defined, even if iPad 1.0 isn't the perfect media device. It's all going to turn on whether readers accept electronic “print” products and in what volume. And that will turn on how well publishers use the tools we have to meet consumer needs.

    Last thought: Widespread electronic delivery of high-circ, high-frequency magazines and newspapers could dramatically change the demand for press time, paper and ink. Even old-school paper-and-ink publishing (as a delivery option, add-on or a special premium) might start to make sense again, at least for specialty and custom markets. Just as radio never died, paper-and-ink will always be with us but in new, exciting and less wasteful forms.

  • http://rexblog.com Rex Hammock

    I don't think it's wishful thinking on your part. I am happy to let customers/readers/users decide how and when and what they want via whatever platform. If they want to pay for the paper version, the developments in on-demand printing are rapidly advancing outside the microscope that is put on anything Apple does. And I like your point about advertisers paying for the mailing and production. They should be paying for the part where value is really created — the gathering of potential customers.

  • Keith Phillips

    Good points — this one device is not all things for all people. Full-on tablet computers and possibly even future generations of the iPad will no doubt offer all of the things the critics say are “missing.” The free market will do what it does best, sorting out and meeting consumer demands with multiple solutions/devices/features/channels. For my personal needs — they nailed it, right down to the keyboard dock and travel case.

    More importantly, it's what I hoped someone would finally bring to market to allow effective electronic delivery of newspaper and magazine content. The iPad and certain tablet computers in the works will allow publishers to deliver professionally created and attractively packaged text-based content that is fully-enabled by the multimedia tools and interactivity of the Web AND the tablet. A “magazine” will no longer necessarily be defined by the physical form of paper pages, but rather by the mix and quality of text-based and rich-media content. (See: the Sports Illustrated demo). With paper, postage and ink costs taken out of the equation, for-profit publishing just might make sense again. Advertisers will no longer be asked to (literally) pay the freight and we can offer them creative, cost-effective rate structures and trackability that even the Web can't deliver. Publishers will be able to turn a profit and find it advantageous to invest in quality content in order to compete. Readers, advertisers and shareholders will all be better served. It really could be the dawn of a new era in publishing.

    Wishful thinking on my part? You bet! But the technology and the form factor for electronic magazine delivery has at last been defined, even if iPad 1.0 isn't the perfect media device. It's all going to turn on whether readers accept electronic “print” products and in what volume. And that will turn on how well publishers use the tools we have to meet consumer needs.

    Last thought: Widespread electronic delivery of high-circ, high-frequency magazines and newspapers could dramatically change the demand for press time, paper and ink. Even old-school paper-and-ink publishing (as a delivery option, add-on or a special premium) might start to make sense again, at least for specialty and custom markets. Just as radio never died, paper-and-ink will always be with us but in new, exciting and less wasteful forms.

  • http://rexblog.com Rex Hammock

    I don't think it's wishful thinking on your part. I am happy to let customers/readers/users decide how and when and what they want via whatever platform. If they want to pay for the paper version, the developments in on-demand printing are rapidly advancing outside the microscope that is put on anything Apple does. And I like your point about advertisers paying for the mailing and production. They should be paying for the part where value is really created — the gathering of potential customers.