Why the iPad Will Stay at the Top

Apple has seen an unprecedented amount of success with its latest major product line, the iPad. Some estimates put the iPad with a rounded 100% market share, their competitors aren’t even on the board.

As we all know, Apple got there first – in terms of modern tablets – by launching their first product in April of 2010. However, it’s evident that even now, with many tablets on the market, Apple is still leading the pack.

Your choice in tablet probably comes down to personal brand loyalty. Chances are that, if you’re reading this site, you’re somehow interested in the technology industry, and probably have good knowledge of the goings on.

Therefore, from our perspective, choosing Google or Apple is probably up to some sort of brand loyalty influenced by the devices we already own (for example, a Mac user is probably more likely to buy an iPad). However, the average consumer who wants a tablet doesn’t necessarily have any underlying loyalty to a certain brand that dictates their choice. So, why is the iPad the device of choice? What’s behind its insane success in comparison to its competitors?

Because Specs Don’t Matter

The Motorola Xoom is a more powerful tablet than the iPad. So, why would someone choose an iPad over it? They’d be crazy not to go with the Xoom, right?

It’s because the average consumer who walks into a Best Buy doesn’t care about the specs of a PC, unless they’re somehow inclined to read up. And that same idea applies to tablets.

Where specifications are coming into play is in real-world performance. It’s lovely to see some graphics benchmarks running on an iPad, but it’s about the games, and the applications, that make users keeping coming to Apple. I’m sure you’ve seen Apple’s TV ads that feature popular apps running on their devices. Android? It’s more about showing people walking around in white attire, not the mere 17 apps optimised for their tablets.

Brand and Marketing

On that same note, Apple does a great job at marketing. Apple is probably one of, if not the, most identifiable brands out there. Possibly because of their massive marketing campaigns, or maybe due to the large Apple that adorns each of their products. With the success of products like the iPod, Apple has a solid overall reputation for quality products – the iPod’s popularity offers Apple continued free advertising.

Apple has, for a long time, been the “premium” brand that most people desire. The iPad is also a very in-demand product, because people love Apple’s brand, reputation, and quality.

Again, it’s not entirely about the product itself, but more about showing off and owning such a desirable product. Maybe that’s why it’s hard to spot anything but a MacBook in Starbucks.

Back in April of 2010, just after the iPad had come out in the UK, I started taking it around with me and the attention I got was unbelievable. Pretty much everywhere I used it I received at least five comments. If I were to do the same with a Motorola Xoom, or Samsung Galaxy Tab, the public reception would be undoubtably different.

Whilst some owners wish for widgets and other homescreen features, the iPad maintains a very minimalist interface.

The Apps

If you want to experience an actual application – one that’s optimised for a large display – on Android you won’t have much luck. This is because Android only has around 17 applications that have been worked on to gain proper tablet optimisation, and the quality of applications is very different. Most of those optimised applications are great, but there are a lot more of them on the iPad.

If you had a chance to watch Apple’s “Year One” video from the March 2nd keynote, you’ll see how several major industries have benefited from the iPad, medical being one of them. Without the iPad-optimized applications that can be used during practice, I can’t see how the iPad would be used on such a scale in that industry.

The applications available on the App Store, and the ease of creating them, mean that enterprising businesses (a large income factor in Apple’s business) are buying iPads in bulk. For the more casual consumer, the attraction of a blooming ecosystem of applications including the likes of Angry Birds, Infinity Blade, and iBooks, is strong.

There's nothing like Infinity Blade on Honeycomb.

Natural Progression

One final strength that the iPad has. is that there’s already a ton of Mac, iPhone, and iPod users out there. Some have one product in that trio, some have two, some have all of them. These products work perfectly within Apple’s ecosystem, so a move to jump out of that seems unusual.

With all of Apple’s devices working together through iTunes, the iPad seems like nothing but a smooth addition to a customer’s product library.

Thanks to iTunes, syncing an iPad and moving all your content and data across is a super simple process. For most, the difficulty of setting up a Xoom might not be worth the minimal software advantages that Honeycomb offers.

Timing

There’s no doubt that the iPad has revolutionised the post-PC market with the iPad. Apple’s tablet was the first of its kind, whatever anyone says. This is important because Apple got in there first and built up a good reputation. I waited excitedly since 3am for my original iPad on launch day when there was simply nothing else on the market. The iPad was my first Apple product and has cemented me into their ecosystem, purely because they were first to the market.

However, getting there first also means that developers jumped on the Apple bandwagon, helping to build up that 65,000+ lead in their application store. As developers saw the iPad as their only option, promises of upcoming Android hardware (and software) just wasn’t enough when there was an successful and popular product already available.

Final Thoughts

There are certainly many more reasons why Apple’s products in general are popular, but these are a few of the key reasons that have (and will) make the iPad successful. With the desirability of their products, working together with the applications available and the marketing effort of Apple, there’s little to persuade customers to go elsewhere.

Plus, everyone’s using an iPad. Why would you be the odd one out?

Your Comments

We’d love to hear what you think are the strongest and best reasons for buying an iPad over the competition – feel free to get involved and write in the comments! Do you think the iPad will stay at the top?