By UTalkMarketing's Melinda Varley
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has this morning unveiled the tech giant’s latest gadget, the iPad, which he said last week was “the most important thing I’ve done.”
After months of speculation, rumours and fakes, the iPad was unveiled in San Francisco while the world watched.
Never before has there been such hype around a single product, although, it is now well known since the success of the iPod and iPhone that anything Apple does indeed turns to gold.
And while the many rumour sites, blogs and new stories have touted the iPad’s capabilities, today Jobs revealed a lot more than anyone could have expected, a "truly revolutionary and magic product", he said.
The world's most famous CEO said the device was aimed between smartphones and laptops – something Apple has become a bit of a pioneer in, revealing this week that for the December quarter it sold 3.36 million Macs, a 33 per cent increase, and 8.7 million iPhones representing 100 per cent growth.
The iPad is designed for browsing the web, email, playing games and even reading e-books – a front in which it will do battle with Amazon’s increasingly popular Kindle.
The device has a 10-hour battery life and all existing iPhone apps will run on the iPad.
It will run similarly to the iPhone operating system (OS) but with a much higher resolution. It looks like a big iPod Touch and the best part of all, is it might just revolutionise the publishing industry as well as attract advertisers back to newspapers.
The device will offer a new way for marketers to reach consumers in what is becoming an increasingly lucrative advertising medium – interactivity.
In the midst of the recession, advertisers left newspapers in droves as circulation numbers plummeted. Many newspapers around the world closed, popular and seemingly indestructible mastheads issued hundreds of redundancy notices and journalists started shaking in their boots – the future of journalism in tatters.
But here we are today, we’ve made it through the storm and now Apple just might save the industry, shaking things up and changing traditional advertising for ever.
Advertisers are optimistic about 2010, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and one of the reasons that is so is because advertisers now have more mediums in which to advertise and more choice about where to advertise.
With the iPhone and iPod Touch came app marketing, now a $US4.2 billion a year industry, a massive figure considering only a couple of years ago the medium didn’t exist. Apps allow advertisers to get into the hands of consumers and where they have done really well is allowing consumers to get involved with interactive components.
With the iPad, this is set to be multiplied. Ads within newspapers will be able to be interactive, can contain links back to corporate branded websites, will allow users to watch and download videos, readers to see a gallery of photographs and with the size of the iPad (10 inch-wide screen), allow them to become more involved and engaged than ever.
For the past few weeks, it has been reported that Apple has been in talks with several newspaper and magazine publishers about the distribution of content on the iPad. Today’s demonstration by Jobs included a rich and interactive version of the New York Times paper, for example.
More publishers are expected to be announced as it becomes clear that the iPad is not just the next bigger and better device from Apple, but instead marks a shift in the company’s overall strategy in the distribution of content. Where the iPad differs from such things as the iPhone and iPod Touch for example, is in its ability to marry content with the device.
Newspapers are expected to come up with entirely different version that will be exclusive to the iPad. And why shouldn’t they? When pay walls finally come into practice next year, we’ll be paying a fee for the privilege of reading the news online. But if consumers think they are getting something truly unique and a valuable experience, they will pay. Apple has indeed proved that in the past with iTunes. Critics everywhere said that consumers would never pay for music and downloads when they could get it elsewhere on the internet for free. One in every four songs sold in the US is downloaded from iTunes as for the first half of 2009, the music store had a 69 per cent share of the overall digital music and download market.
And iTunes will certainly be a popular feature on the iPad. The iPad, with its big and high resolution screen, will allow users to watch television and movies, which should be a welcome boost to the video-on-demand market too.
Advertisers can get on board here too – the opportunities are endless and marketers should take advantage of the interactivity capabilities. For example, should a viewer be watching a TV show and like what an actor is wearing, or what to know more about the brand of beer that is being drunk, the viewer can simply click on that item for more information or to be taken to the brand’s website.
Another element that could prove popular with advertisers is the ability to place more targeted advertising around specific content. Ads can also be tailored to each individual iPad through such technologies as location data (already used in the iPhone). And we could even start to see more ad-funded content as advertisers struggle to find a place in the digital TV arena as consumers are increasingly fast forwarding through the ads as less and less of us actually watch live TV anymore.
A return-on-investment will also be easier to track for marketers and data of the users more easily collected.
But although the details on what the exact capabilities of the iPad are for advertisers and content are still sketchy (Jobs only left the San Francisco stage a few hours ago) one thing is obvious – the iPad will revolutionise engagement in advertising and marketers should get on board now with several tech blogs expecting the device to reach 10 million people this year alone.
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