Give away the coloring book, sell the crayons

crayola imarker

This is a lesson for marketers. Here are two new products. The people who came up with the ideas (virtually, the same idea) recognized opportunities where others may have seen only threats.

As noted, they are both, in many ways, the same product and business model — just different executions for different marketplaces, one fat, one skinny; one for kids the other for grownups; one for the $30 and the other for, well, $30.

They share the same thing, however: They give away a free iPad app and make money by selling a stylus bearing their popular brands.

Example #1: From Crayola and Griffin Technology, the Color Studio HD: The free app is a digital coloring book and the product is a $30 fat stylus called the iMarker. (Note: From the comments on the iPad product page, early purchasers seem to have complaints with the usability of the stylus, but Griffin has added a note promising fixes.)

Example #2: From Wacom, a brand of popular pen tablets with graphic artists who were lovers of Crayolas when they were little, comes the free app, Bamboo Paper. While any serious artist or serious note-taker can tell you dozens of other apps better than Bamboo Paper, the app has been at the top of the iPad Store download list since it came out a couple of weeks ago because of its brand. (Personally, my favorite post-crayon app is Brushes. I do, however, recommend the Bamboo Stylus, as its feel and performance are far superior than anything I can get from the cheaper sponge-tips or, for that matter, from my finger-tips.

Like Crayola, Wacom makes its money by selling a $30 stylus, but its stylus is very skinny.