As the iPad 2 launches in the UK, we ask: has Apple still got the edge?

25 Mar 2011|Added Value

Following the global launch of the iPad 2 earlier this month, the US sold out of the market leading tablet in one weekend, with 70% going to new iPad owners. The UK launches the second generation device today and the scene is likely to be the same. But has Apple done enough to hold their leadership position ahead of copycat brands? Or will Google’s free Android system overtake Apple eventually? We asked a handful of our people for their thoughts:

Kate Wolters, Group Communications Manager Apple still has the ‘cool’ cred of a very desirable brand.  In the context of comparing Apple with Android is an argument that people don’t actually buy Apple for the tech, but rather for the cache the brand brings.  But they’re becoming a bit ubiquitous. If others – like Android – can offer longer product life, better battery life, better integration with other technology and a better service promise, then Apple might have a battle. They’ll need to focus even more on keeping fans loyal. And find new ways to deliver on their reputation for simplicity, design and innovation. One of the other interesting points to consider is some of the criticism Apple is facing in terms of its sustainability track record. One of the cornerstones of their growth has been in the total replacement of product every two or three years, with no consideration going to the responsible disposal of obsolete items – or even the long term sustainability of such a strategy.  Might this become their Achilles heel?

Kevin Evans, Project Director, Added Value UK Google seems much more willing to align itself with Microsoft on software terms (not necessarily working in partnership) but in compatibility with MS products. As tablets become more prevalent the temptation will increase for Microsoft and its office suite to align itself directly with a manufacturer (or go it alone = bad idea).  A compatibility tie up with Google would transform the Android tabs from an entertainment device into a functional and entertainment device, marginalising the iPad as bells and whistles but only for fun. Dell have already started to innovate their portfolio by having the Inspiron duo convertible – consumers want the best of both. If Google overtook Apple in smartphones by having a more consumer orientated strategy and manufacturer tie-ins the opportunity is much bigger in the tablet market.

Nic Bulois, Director Quant, Added Value UK My take is that Apple has both the credibility and cool appeal, to create an empathetic brand which people relate to and want to make their own. Time and time again they succeed in re-inventing the way we consume media so we excuse their sub-par products – everyone makes a mistake sometimes, right? Apples biggest assets are iTunes and all the apps that encourage personalisation in their products to make these truly unique. To date, Google and other players have not built the credibility and desirability to steal the show despite, arguably, having better products. There were some interesting points being made at the Market Research Society (MRS) Conference in the UK this week by Charles Leadbeater about whether Apple is actually losing some of this empathy by becoming such a huge and system based company. You could argue this has always been the case, but were disguised for a long time. Even so, we have now speculated on the demise of Apple for over 2 decades – every time they launch something new we thought it was their last chance … I’d argue that for as long as they can stay at the forefront of how we consume media, they are here to stay! I’m off to buy my new iPad2, are you coming?

Well, are you?  What do you think?

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