You'll Shoot Your Eye Out

September 14, 2010

I only buy Vitamin Water, I mean, not instead of real water, but if I want vitamin-infused water, I only want Vitamin Water. I'm brand loyal and they have good packaging - what can I say? I've always felt like Apple feeds off of people like me, they get their hooks in and turn us in to brand-chasing drones. "You like carrying your entire music library around with you? Check out this iPod." "Bet you wish it made phone calls? Get this sweet iPhone." Apple makes exceptional products and knows how to sell them.


Much has been written about Apple's halo effect, the idea that if you buy an Apple product and like it you are more likely to purchase other Apple products. This kind of brand affinity is what marketers and advertisers strive for. That's why I am skeptical when I hear about new products that are meant to be "iPad killers."

I know that tons of people are more 'price sensitive' than 'brand loyal' and these 'iPad killers' will carve out a piece of the market. But if Samsung produces tablets that have front facing cameras, it doesn't make me want to buy a Samsung tablet. It makes me anticipate the next generation of the iPad, which rumors suggest will have a front-facing camera.

I don't own an iPad, I can't afford it now--let alone a possible next generation iPad that may or may not have the same or better/worse features than what I am sure are great Samsung and Sony tablets. It's a testament to Apple's branding efforts that I'm brand loyal to a product I don't even own. It's like the kid in A Christmas Story, footballs are fun, but nothing can replace the Red Rider BB Gun.

Recently, Apple eased restrictions for developers, letting them use third-party tools to write apps for the iPhone and iPad. This is a smart, more egalitarian way for Apple to head off competition - it makes it less likely that developers will make apps for competing platforms such as Google's Android mobile OS. It will also undercut the FTC 's anti-trust investigation into the company. The sleekly designed iPad isn't just about the physical tablet itself - it's the app economy, stupid.

Developers have spent considerable effort creating excellent apps for the iPad interface. Like, say, the critically acclaimed Newsy app for iPad, which is oft touted as having revolutionized the news industry. Now that Apple is letting more developers into the market, developers in general have little incentive to constantly reformat their apps for products that haven't proven themselves yet. These new products are facing a serious challenge. Now that they have their tablets they have to attract content, a task that just got much harder now that Apple is opening its doors a bit.