Apple iPad reminds us how brands succeed by transforming experiences

To borrow a line from Scrooge, “I’m as giddy as a drunken man.” With today’s Apple iPad intro, it feels like Christmas. I was glued to Engadget’s live blogfeed of the announcement. Apple is leveraging its iPhone technology in a new tablet format, adding bells and whistles like unlocked, no contract, and cheap 3G data plans, a keyboard dock and the iBookstore. But once again, as we’ve seen in the past with Apple, the whole may be larger than the sum of the parts.

In the tech industry we pay homage to “innovation” as the ultimate springboard for leadership positioning and killer differentiation. Lots of companies make products, but only a few reinvent how we learn, communicate and experience. Remember trying to use a pre-iPod Mp3 player? Mine was a Diamond Rio; frustrated and ticked off are two reactions that come to mind.

Remember how you felt the first time you used an iPod? For me, it was the same feeling I get when I step foot in a new country. Wow, this is someplace different, and it’s cool, and a little scary but I’m happy to be here and I want to discover this new place.

The iPod wasn’t just innovative because of its simple design and intuitive ease of use. The kicker was the iTunes store – it gave us a whole new way to stay on top of music, broaden our horizons, consume and share at far less cost. The entire experience of finding and listening to music was transformed. I used to think it was de rigueur to be able to stay in touch via e-mail on my mobile phone. But now as an iPhone user, I can’t fathom how I was satisfied with a device that made surfing the web painful and offered little else.

The iPhone gives me a broader, more fulfilling experience. While typing is a little less speedy, I now have - in one device – painless Internet, much better viewing, a decent camera, games, nifty video, all the music I love, instant social networking connections, an e-book reader and access to over 140,000 apps. Nice trade-up.

The iPad isn’t perfect (bad name; doesn’t multi-task; no webcam; no widescreen; no GPS) but it may hold similar long-term promise.

If I was a newspaper or magazine publisher, I’d be more hopeful. This device has the potential to help reinvent the publishing industry like iTunes reinvented the music industry. As I watched today’s New York Times demo, it reminded me of the Harry Potter movies where animated video moves across “The Daily Prophet” student newspaper. The iPad features drop down context menus; re-sizing of pages with a pinch; and embedded video inside articles. If the content providers and app developers get onboard with this vision, it could be a reinvention of how we read and learn.

It remains to be seen whether the iPad will make it or die a Newtonian death. The lesson I walk away with is that consumer and B2B brands can endear themselves to their customers – and potentially win – if they focus on innovating customer experiences vs. merely announcing feature-rich products. The former is a benefit-laden differentiation that’s damn hard to disrupt.
(Source :www.beaupre.com/blog)
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