Industry is level-headed about potential of iPad

Industry experts have cautiously welcomed the launch of the iPad although some are not convinced it meets an “untapped need.”

Aoole iPad
Aoole iPad

However, the ability to engage with consumers through “amazing new apps” and the launch of an apple iBookstore, available via iTunes, has excited observers.

The device has filled the media this morning (8 January), with mixed reviews for the device, which has been widely dubbed as an “oversized iPod Touch”.

Yet, according to Andrew McGuinness, co-founder of BMB , the opportunity to make use of the new software development kit that comes with the iPad will enable marketers to launch apps that are “ten times better than before.”

Julia Ask, a mobile analyst at Forrester, adds: “For marketers, the iPad further evolves contextual advertising. Consumers will be in an environment where they can act on an impulse to buy. If this product can change and grow media consumption, advertisers will be happy.”

But Chris Bourke, head of mobile at Media Planning Group’s Media Contacts, says that Apple has missed a trick by not adding a camera to the device.

“It’s an overblown version of the iPod Touch with no mobile activity and no flash, a huge miss from Apple in our perspective, we are struggling to find a reason d’etre for the iPad. A netbook appears to be just as good except for the rotating screen of course. I might be underestimating it, of course, and I’m sure there will be demand for consumer interaction on the medium,” he says.

Others see more potential in the capabilities of the iPod. Jon Carney, CEO of Marvellous, an Aegis-owned digital creative agency, says: “It spells the end of pointer driven interaction and introducers the most smart touch interaction ever possible. The slick, interactive experience that has been demonstrated will drive brands towards wanting to be a part of the iPad experience, just as they have the iPod and iPhone.”

Christian Louca, managing director of mobile marketing agency YOC, adds: “For me, the iPad certainly presents a different concept for advertising compared to what we are used to on the mobile. It will of course present advertising opportunities for apps but this device is positioned for online browsing rather than on the go mobile internet. For the publishing and gaming industries alike, I can certainly see why they are getting excited about the new device as perhaps they see this as a new format from which to generate more revenue, and why not? Give a good user experience and charge for it.”

But he cautions: “In my opinion, I cannot see many people carrying around a mobile phone (in some cases two mobiles) and a rather bulky ipad (and in some cases a laptop too). This is far too many devices. If you already have an iPhone or any other quality smartphone and laptop do you really need or want an iPad as well?”

Paul Berney, European MD of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) says iPad’s launch will have a significant impact on mobile marketing.

“The Apple Tablet is going to have a significant and positive impact on the practice mobile marketing and the value that can be generated with it. For marketers, the impact aligns along the factors of potential reach and rich media Internet-enabled services delivery. For instance, there are over 10 billion mobile-enabled device in the market today, including phones.”

“For consumers, the value aligns along the lines of increased capability and access. They will have more and more opportunity to easily access Internet services and related mobile applications and solutions enabled by these new devices to accomplish what they want, when they want it and how they want it. These services will provide marketers and consumers alike with the ability to have a global presence while engaging in locally relevant services and community. “

Brand experts say that Apple’s credentials with the existing i-range of products will make the new bookstore a highly desirable distribution point.

Ajaz Ahmed co-founder of AKQA, who was at the launch in San Francisco, said: “The iPad represents a paradigm shift for publishing, entertainment and advertising. It’s simple and accessible enough for anyone and will look perfect at home, eventually replacing static, analogue content with connected, interactive content.”

“It’s also far more personable and inclusive than a PC. Rather than just re-purpose content for the iPad, publishers and advertisers would be best advised to make use of the new capabilities of the device to re-define their particular category with genre-defining new products and ideas.”

Paul Cowper, brand director of Added Value UK, says: “Apple is renowned for its iTunes store already and the companies that are involved in it. Media networks and book publishers will undoubtedly be keen to be involved in the new bookstore. The core question is if the device is actually meeting an untapped need yet? I’m not entirely convinced.”

George Nimeh, regional CEO for Europe, iris Digital, echoes these thoughts and says that it could be the kick that the industry has wanted in the e-books market.

But he adds: “Undoubtedly, the touch experience is phenomenal and we will get involved, but what’s important is we don’t let brands get carried away. It’s still just a small extra to the overall digital capabilities that are possible.”

Christian Lindholm, managing partner at amobile specialists Fjord, says: “The most fundamental development with the iPad will be what it will do for youth. For youth, the iPad will redefine computing. The iPad works essentially the same way as an iPod Touch. However, if you are a child, arguing to your parents that you need a computer, you will be unable to argue that you would like an iPod Touch. It’s just not going to fly. However, if you argue that you would like an iPad, it will fly. So, for many young people, this will be the first computer they own. And I don’t think that they will go back.”

Lorenzo Wood, chief innovation officer at LBi, summarises: “Basically, the iPad will enable higher resolution and quick experience of brand interaction – another possibility in the growing digital arena. It will create some exciting new for marketers and developers to look to tap into, and will be phenomenal if the functionality works well. For the on-the-go consumer, it will be the key to them being online wherever they are and having just one task to do at a time. Demand will be high – servicing consumer needs will be the challenge. After all, this is the year when the consumer will blame the brand and not the handset as technology continues to evolve.”

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