In an economy that is still considered dismal by many, the marketing strategies of successful companies are viewed as guideposts by competitors who wish to both break into the market and maintain a significant presence. In viewing the branding tactics used by Apple for products such as the iPAD and MacBook Air, one can see the tactics used to not only brand these products in a manner that achieved significant attention from the market itself, but retain the interest of consumers. In viewing the research at hand, it also becomes clear that in order to cultivate such success, many issues must be accounted for such as regard for the environment, company ethics, price caps, etc.
IPAD v. MacBook Air: Marketing Analysis
In viewing the economic market, certain tactics are utilized by companies to remain a viable presence within their respective fields in terms of globalization, distribution, promotion and advertising. In order to achieve and maintain such a presence, companies must also make market-savvy decisions when it comes to issues such as the environment, product pricing, and internal company ethics. Though each aforementioned issue proves exceedingly different in viewing them in a laundry list, it becomes clear upon researching company strategies and agendas that these topics possess a commonality in terms of being viewed as keys for success. Such market success can be seen in viewing the marketing strategies utilized by Apple for their iPAD and MacBook Air. Both brands have proven exceedingly successful in the market, and can be looked to as a guidepost for other companies looking to break into and retain a strong market presence along with favorable customer reporting.
In order to begin the assessment of literature related to the aforementioned products, one must first understand the differentiation between the two. Apple first launched its MacBook Air on January 15, 2008 at the Macworld Conference and Expo. Promoted as the world's thinnest notebook, the MacBook Air quickly generated press for its portability, full-sized keyboard, weight, thinness, and Multi-Touch trackpad, but received criticism for its high price, limited configuration options and ports, relatively slow speed, non-replaceable parts, and relatively small hard drive.
Similarly, Apple first released its iPAD in April of 2010 to waiting consumers. Developed as a tablet computer, the iPAD is primarily used as a platform for audio-visual media including books, periodicals, movies, music, games, and web content. Its relative size and weight place the iPAD between those of contemporary smartphones and laptop computers. Generating alarmingly positive press, the iPAD has proven one of Apple's most successful products, with sales, notoriety, and market presence increasing significantly with each passing year.
In terms of globalization, Apple has taken significant measures to assure that both its MacBook Air and iPAD generate significant worldwide present. Globalization itself, or the fact that our economic systems and cultures are networked as part of a global system, has a massive significance in marketing. Take for example, the globalization that stemmed immediately from the release of the MacBook Air. Hailed as the market's first super-thin notebook computer, its initial release sent shockwaves through the industry. Within months, competing companies were releasing similar, less refined, brands into the market in order to compete with the growing demand for the MacBook Air. According to media experts, the globe has been contracted into a village by the integration of electric technology; information is not moving instantly from every quarter to every point at the same time, and the MacBook Air was no different (McLuhan, 2009, p.6). Seconds after its release, the entire world knew that the MacBook Air had been launched, and with this knowledge came the demand for ownership across the globe.
The same is true for the iPAD. Authors note that the globalization of the iPAD was unsurpassed in the market, with a transformation occurring within global consumers around the world (Pimpa, 2010, p.312). Surpassing Apple's past initiatives in terms of notoriety, the globalization of the product led to Apple selling 3 million IPADS in its first 80 days on the market, with an additional 14.8 million in 2010 alone, representing 75% of tablet PC sales for the year (Harrison, 2010, p.1). The same is true for 2011, with more than 15 million sold by March and a projected 83% of the market expected to be reached by the end of the year (Bourke and Saminather, 2011, p.1).
Apple has long held such marketing tactics close to heart, with each new product often generating significant notoriety in the market. As such, the MacBook Air and iPAD are generally viewed by Apple as relative successes for the larger success of Apple as a company itself. The relationship from product to product and brand to brand within Apple is largely a symbiotic one, with each product receiving its own branding and market strategy, but in the larger context of the company itself -- for the greater good. For Apple, each success is essentially a cog in a wheel, generating specific product success and company success as well.
While the market for conventional personal computers and notebooks have been in existence for decades with consumers vying for the opportunity to own the latest models, Apple has managed to set itself apart from the rest of the market regarding market segmentation. How is this true? In viewing Apple's MacBook Air and iPAD, one major concept comes into play: Apple created the markets for both products. Until the release of each product, no market existed that either product could fit into. The MacBook Air did not fit into any prior mold for personal computers or notebooks and the iPAD created an entirely new market in itself.
Journalist Kevin Voigt notes that the iPAD moved far past its projected place as a "geek nice product" and brought about the birth of a new market, with its initial release in nine overseas markets internationally (Voigt, 2010, p.1). While competitors have attempted to carve a space out in the market for themselves, such attempts have proven unsuccessful in the long run. Take for example, HP's decision to launch its own TouchPad weeks after the iPAD came onto the market. Despite flashy advertising celebrity-ridden advertising campaigns, the TouchPad was unable to make a dent in the market. Market analyst Charles Golvin explains, "Apple created the tablet castle with the iPAD and while various competitors have tried to storm the walls, nobody has made much of a dent" (Bulk, 2011, p.2). The creation of such a market could not be possible without Apple's guerilla marketing style in terms of advertising and promotion, along with its focus on opening up massive channels of distribution for its products.
Apple's advertising and promotions have proven so successful, especially in the launching of these two products, that it has often left rival companies reeling. The Washington Post notes that one thing that has not gone unnoticed in viewing Apple's promotions and advertising is the crushing effect that Apple has had on its competitors. Apple has successfully remade traditional markets in its own image, leaving behind a wake of overturned business models, confounded managements and bereft shareholders (Ritholtz, 2011, p.G6).
Apple has steered clear of what economist John Graham calls "ego-driven marketing" and relies instead on the merit of each product individually (Graham, 2011, p.33). While it could have proven exceedingly easy to market the iPAD based on the past successes of the MacBook Air or the iPOD, Apple instead insists on advertising each product in a manner than is completely separate from the other products in the company's arsenal. However, Apple's past successes and glowing reputation within the field around the globe has proven a significant asset in terms of how these new products are received, even prior to their actual release.
A major facet in Apple's advertising and marketing strategy that has been seen in looking at the MacBook Air and the iPOD in particular is its use of advertising and the limited release of information and prototype images in order to create hype in the market. Consumers anxiously await the tech shows and conferences in which such products are released, and the appearance of former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs was enough to incite riots among technically-savvy observers. Apple's internal company advertising has always worked in conjunction with general media fodder that is created amongst the waiting Apple consumer audience. Media outlets, especially bloggers thrive on their ability to write anxiously about Apple's new releases, and Apple makes it exceedingly easy for them to do so.
Apple is able to incite a perpetual cycle of media frenzy surrounding its products, which is apparent in looking at the MacBook Air and the iPAD. With leaked rumors about new developments, its very own expo and mysterious shutdowns of its online store, Apple basically giftwraps news stories that are begging for speculation and hype and presents them to the media (Bulk, 2008, p.29). By keeping this news cycle a perpetual presence in the market, Apple is able to keep its customers…