Thursday, 18 February 2010

The iPad - a masterclass in PR

There’s hype, there’s big hype and then there was the launch of the iPad. The new piece of must have technology from Apple was launched with massive worldwide media coverage. Every newspaper covered its launch; it had worldwide prime time news coverage. The internet went into meltdown not only on news sites but the blogosphere and social sites also went mad.

I could spend this column talking about what it does and bemoaning the fact that something that is primarily designed to access the web does not support Flash. That’s actually because Apple and Adobe are currently in the middle of a handbags at dawn fight. However if you sit back and look at all this coverage you have to reflect that its quite a lot for something that can double as a touch sensitive tea tray.

Apple got all this coverage for a number of reasons, the biggest being that its last few launches have radically changed the markets they targeted. Think what the iPod has done for the music industry and the iPhone to the mobile market. Apple also benefits from a customer base who loves their products. Talk to an Apple user and most will eulogise about the product they have, they are real brand advocates. This passion comes from a focus on the design and ease of use of the product, Apple truly focuses on how people will use its products. It also designs them so they are items of desire not just bits of kit and then markets them as such. Would we all want an iPod or an iPhone if they did not look, well simply cool? No, of course not. There was real hype surrounding this launch because of what the rumours of what this new toy will be and will it have the same effect on using the internet as Apple has had on phones and listening to music.

There were of course other things happening in the world on Jan 27th. Other businesses were trying to survive these troubled times and you have to feel sorry for those who were trying to launch new products on the same day and desperately trying to get some media attention. For example on the same day as the iPad launched, Ultimo launched a new underwear collection fronted by Peaches Geldof. Costa Coffee unfortunately launched its new beverage the flat white (something very familiar to anyone who has travelled around America or Australia) with Peter Andre holding a cup of the stuff. You can insert your own gag on both launches here.

Whether the iPad will live up to the hype remains to be seen but it took three incarnations of the iPhone before everybody got it and wanted one or something like it. I suspect that the iPad will have the same effect in a few years when it seems natural that we sit watching TV surfing the web using something that can double as an expensive chopping board. So do I want one? Of course, but purely for testing our new mobile sites on it, not because it’s cool or anything! So while I wait for the UK launch I will keep listening to music on my iPod while taking calls on the iPhone, perhaps I’ll also have a flat white while I wait.