Apple’s Marketing of iPad

15 May

Apple’s marketing efforts for iPad are an extension of the company’s extremely dynamic, unique image and have created a market for tablet PC’s that did not exist prior to its introduction.  Like many other Apple products, iPad has revolutionized the computing industry.  The product has been marketed to members of many socioeconomic classes and offers a unique value proposition that includes elements of a smart phone and laptop PC.  The following report will discuss Apple’s overall brand strategy and architecture, and a history of iPad’s conception.  Furthermore, will also discuss iPad’s target market, positioning strategy, and the manner in which Apple carries out its message.

History of iPad

In 2007, iPad was conceived at approximately the same time as iPhone.  Apple CEO Steve Jobs decided to produce iPhone prior to iPad, because he sensed that if the technology could work with a phone, getting the public to accept it on a tablet would be a much easier project.  After the introduction of iPhone in 2007, Apple replaced its plans to create a netbook with the iPad.

iPad was designed to fill the gap left between the iPhone and the MacBook, and was designed to compete head-on with eReaders such as Amazon’s Kindle.  However, since it has much more computing power than the Kindle, the iPad is also competing with netbooks.  Furthermore, it is a great alternative to the Amazon Kindle, as it offers quick access to the internet with all the same abilities of the eReader.  Furthermore, iPad fills a void for the older generation of computer users, because it features a very simple operating system and allows a physical level of interaction with the interface. (4)

Branding Strategy

Apple’s branding strategy is to remain on the cutting edge of technology, and to attract people based on sleek design and convenient features.  Furthermore, Apple has created a culture around its products full of people who are considered the “early adopters.”  Apple’s retail stores offer a unique shopping experience in which customers can browse through the company’s latest products in a an atmosphere devoid of pressure. People who enter an Apple store feel a part of a community of people who, like them, “get it.”  As described on

“Apple has a branding strategy that focuses on the emotions. The Apple brand personality is about lifestyle; imagination; liberty regained; innovation; passion; hopes, dreams and aspirations; and power-to-the-people through technology. The Apple brand personality is also about simplicity and the removal of complexity from people’s lives; people-driven product design; and about being a really humanistic company with a heartfelt connection with its customers.”  (7)

Target Market and Unique Selling Proposition

Since iPad offers excellent functionality with regard to “e-reading,” it is reasonable to assume Apple intended to steal market share from Amazon’s Kindle.  Kindle’s target market is extremely varied, as many of their commercials feature 20 and 30-somethings while 70% of their owners are 40 and older.  This target market is attractive to Apple, as people in this age demographic tend to have higher disposable income.  However, although Apple has presented the iPad as an alternative to the Kindle and other eReaders, it is priced considerably higher than these products and must be seen as a group of differentiated offerings.  (1)

iPad’s target market is completely varied.  Since the device makes so many functions possible, there are many target markets that will see the benefits of the product.  Furthermore, an entry-level iPad is priced at $499, making the product a reasonable proposition to those with modest incomes but a desire to stay on the cutting-edge of technology.  Based on its commercials for the iPad, it seems Apple’s target markets include teenage males and females, on-the-go business people, book-lovers, high-school science students, those interested in staying updated on current events, and musicians. (2)

While impossible to narrow iPad’s target market to any specific age, gender or income demographic, its early commercials seemed to indicate that elderly people were not included in this target audience.  This can be assumed because the actors tended to be young and the background music was typically in the pop rock genre.  The original commercials generally showed only a pair of hands performing functions on the iPad, and seemed to target 25-45 year old men and women because of the applications that were being used.  Recent advertisements have demonstrated a major transition to an even greater diversification of target audience.  The latest iPad advertisement features children sharing an application on an iPad in one scene, and two elderly men playing chess on iPad in the next scene.  This ad clearly demonstrates that Apple feels iPad has reached a level of maturity and wants to show members of many target markets the value in its product.  This strategy of gradually targeting a wider array of consumers was probably Apple’s original strategy.  However, it was necessary to convince “early-adopters” to set the trend.  (3)

Positioning Strategy

Apple’s differentiation strategy for iPad is to position the product between the iPhone and the MacBook.  It is to create the “3rd category” between these two products.  Prior to iPad, the Netbook occupied the position between the smart phone and the laptop.  However, Apple not only knocked the Netbook out of this position, but redefined the position altogether.  During the press conference at which Steve Jobs unveiled iPad, he cited the fact that netbooks are simply “Cheap Laptops,” and that they simply emulate the traits of a laptop while performing the functions poorly.  In essence, Apple defined the netbook as a product that took everything great about a PC and made it smaller.  Contrarily, the company felt the market would respond positively to an alternate strategy: taking everything great about a smart phone and making it larger.  This is how the company created the market demand for iPad.  (7)

Since Apple defined its own market by releasing a product that had not previously been conceived, it had less to do in the way of positioning against competitors.  However, as competitors have attempted to steal market share, Apple has had to redesign parts of its product to compete with new entrants.  For instance, iPad 2 is 30% thinner than the original iPad in order to demonstrate Apple’s continuing commitment to innovation and sleek design.  The company has added cameras and multiple other features to maintain competitiveness, and has reduced price on earlier models to compete with less expensive tablets like Amazon’s Kindle.

iPad enjoys the first-mover advantage over other tablets in the marketplace, such as Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, and all Android products.  Currently, iPad dominates the tablet market, accounting for 68% of worldwide tablet shipments Q1 2012.  The company’s ability to position the iPad as an “all-purpose device” as opposed to an eReader or similarly one-dimensional product is paying off.  Furthermore, the company’s pricing strategy has allowed it to maintain profitability, as other companies struggle to “buy” market share by offering their products at substantially lower prices.  In a recent article in “The Journal,” Tom Mainelli of IDC summed up Apple’s well-defined advantage when he said, “It seems some of the mainstream Android vendors are finally beginning to grasp a fact that Amazon, B&N, and Pandigital figured out early on: Namely, to compete in the media tablet market with Apple, they must offer their products at notably lower price points.”

Marketing Mix and Advertisement Analysis

Apple’s intention with its advertising for iPad is to encourage potential consumers to envision themselves using the device in their daily lives.  Therefore, the ads don’t tell consumers what the device does, but show the product in use.  The various shots of iPad’s uses demonstrate the product’s unique selling propositions.  Furthermore, the lack of outright explanation of the product creates an emotional relationship between potential consumer and product.  This type of appeal is typical for the company, and is similar to the iPod “Silhouette” ads in which excited, trendy, popular people were depicted dancing to their music being played through the trademark white ear plugs.  This execution style tells a story without “telling” a viewer anything; it suggests to the viewer the level of benefit they will derive from the product.  A recent iPad 2 television advertisement exploits the concept of “Inherent Drama” by describing “it” [iPad] as a “groundbreaking” as a picture of an ultrasound flashes across an iPad screen.

Besides television, Apple has been using large billboards in major cities as an additional effective advertising medium.  The billboards generally feature the product being used by a person in a relaxed state, and do not show the user’s face.  Furthermore, the billboards are strategically placed in high-traffic, metropolitan areas and are targeted regionally.  The company has not heavily advertised iPad in magazines, likely because magazines are already writing about the product so frequently that the company does not feel it is necessary to do so.


Because Apple has done such a masterful job creating awareness and demand for iPad, the product has become so trendy that other companies have started to use it in their ads.  Also, companies that create mobile apps or have mobile websites are taking special care to ensure their customers know that their products are “iPad compatible.”  Hyundai is one example of a company that has included iPad in its advertising, featuring the product in a recent magazine ad for the Equus.  Other companies feature an animated version of an iPad being directed to that company’s website.


“Is there room for a third category of device in the middle, between a laptop and a smartphone?”  This is the question Steve Jobs asked his audience when he introduced iPad in 2010.   Now, over 2 years later and after two redesigns, iPad has proven to be a dominant force in the tablet market.  This is due to its superior design and Apple’s clever marketing strategies that have endeared the product and convinced the public that the “third category” truly exists.


Works Cited

  1. iPad ownership demographics

  1. Typical iPad buyer is male, pet-owning video game player
  2. Understanding the Target Audience for the Apple iPad
  3. History of the iPad

  1. Even apple doesn’t know who its iPad is for

  1. You’re Probably Not the iPad Target Audience

  1. Apple’s Branding Strategy

  1. iPad’s growing ecosystem


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