Tag Archives: iPad 2

Mar 25

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Products, UI/UX

Why the HP TouchPad, BlackBerry PlayBook and Motorola Xoom are DOA

I was recently asked to do a Xoom review and I have to say that I am pained just picking up the device. And apparently I am not the only one who feels this way. The Motorola Xoom recently launched to tepid reviews and slow sales. Engadget said “there isn’t much here for consumers right now,” and there are already rumors that Motorola is cutting production of their Android tablet.

When the HP TouchPad and BlackBerry PlayBook are released, there is no doubt in my mind that they will suffer the same fate as the Xoom: lackluster sales, middling reviews and generally regarded as also-rans in the tablet kingdom.

Since the iPad 2 came out (and sold a million units over a single weekend), the writing is officially on the wall. The tablet space is Apple’s game to lose.

So here is the message for HP, RIM and every other company developing a tablet computer right now: stop the presses. There is nothing to be gained by releasing these devices as they are now. Unless these firms have extremely small unit goals for their devices (which they don’t), they need to reevaluate how they can compete in the tablet space. And they won’t compete by launching tablets that look kind of like the iPad that are aimed at current iPad owners. Apple competitors need to innovate and differentiate themselves if they want to win.

Let’s be clear. There are markets for these products – I outlined a few of them in this earlier tablet post:

Here are a few sectors that present real opportunities for non-Apple tablets.

Medicine

We are quickly approaching a world where medical records and information will be displayed on tablets. Windows and Android devices could thrive in this vertical.

The Military

Someone is going to sell the Pentagon a lot of secure, battle ready tablets. Smart manufacturers should keep an eye on this space.

Kids

A “cheap,” sturdy tablet for kids is a no-brainer. Part coloring book, part media player, part game center- think LeapPad on steroids.

It’s time that the consumer electronics industry takes a hard look at the iPad’s strengths and comes up with a few interesting alternatives for these specific market segments.

Instapaper founder Marco Arment has a post that talks about the iPad abandoning office productivity apps and moving more toward “casual media creation.” Since the iPad’s role “doesn’t include office productivity for most of us,” there is an opportunity for an enterprise tablet built for business needs. If someone other than Apple made an amazing office tablet, people would love it- they would just love it differently than they love the iPad. HP could own this enterprise tablet market. It isn’t hard to imagine a scenario where people absolutely adore their HP work tablet. In order to thrive, though, these devices must be inspiring, not merely functional. There is an opportunity here to connect with people and improve their working lives (and maybe surprise and delight them in the process). HP (and others) just need to seize it.

RIM, HP, Motorola and others can’t deliver products that are a little better than the iPad. Their offerings need to be far superior or far different to the iPad in order to succeed. They need to create a user experience that people love. The fact is that the PlayBook and TouchPad – as they are designed and marketed now – won’t capture people’s emotions the way the iPad has. Which is why they should not be brought to market.

Mar 14

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Marketing, Products

iPad 2 Sells 1 Million Units – Over the Weekend

It took the first iPad 28 days to sell a million units. It took the Verizon iPhone two weeks. The iPad 2 sold around one million units in a single weekend.

Reuters is reporting that some stores ran out of Apple tablets in 10 minutes. Quoting from the piece:

Wedbush Securities analyst Scott Sutherland said: “We would not be surprised to see Apple sell closer to 1 million iPad 2’s in the opening weekend.”

The article also mentions the impending tablet bubble that we blogged about recently. “The iPad 2’s early success is a warning sign of a global tablet bubble, where supply could outpace demand for tablets,” says Wall Street analyst Mark Moscowitz.

PC makers need to innovate – and quickly – if they want to compete in the tablet space.

Mar 11

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Products, Stage Two, UI/UX

Only Apple Could Make The iPad 2

In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Apple iPad 2Country, Spock recalls an old Vulcan proverb that says, “Only Nixon could go to China.

I firmly believe that only Apple could deliver a device like the iPad 2. Their focus on usability and user experiences ushered in a post-PC paradigm in computing. The Cupertino company defined the tablet space and is expected to ship 30 million tablets in 2011. There is a reason other tablet makers don’t have Apple’s market share- their tablets just don’t measure up at this time.

I recently reviewed the Motorola Xoom, and in the first few seconds of interacting with it, it became clear that it was not an iPad. From the moment I picked it up, it just felt wrong. The first time use feels cumbersome and even languid. Motorola’s tablet asks me for account information – user names and passwords – before I can do anything with the device. When I pick up the iPad, it works – quickly and effortlessly. There are other differences, as well. Stability, for one. As the venerable Walt Mossberg puts it in his iPad 2 review: “[The iPad] never crashed in my tests, unlike every Android tablet I’ve tested.” Then, of course, there is the price point ($800? Really?). And finally, the news that Xoom owners will have to send their devices back to the manufacturer for a 4G upgrade. Quoting Dvice:

Poor Motorola Xoom. We all wanted to love you, but you may have popped out of the oven a bit too soon. If you want 4G LTE on your shiny new Xoom (goes on sale today), you’ll have to return it back to Motorola for the upgrade.

This debacle is more Motorola’s fault than Android’s. Someone at Motorola said that this tablet was ready to ship when it clearly wasn’t. Who is that guy? What motivated his decision making? At what point did making customers return their product for an upgrade seem like a good idea?

Hardware makers must innovate tablet technology while delivering fun, functional user experiences. The reviewers and consumers have weighed in and at this point only Apple can deliver a tablet worth waiting in line for.

Mar 10

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Stage Two

How Apple’s Focus on UX Created the Post-PC Paradigm

We recently blogged about how Apple’s commitment to amazing user experiences is ushering in a new Post-PC paradigm in computing.

Determining the best tech products was easy in the old PC era. The best devices were the ones with the best hardware. A 5 megapixel camera was better than a 2 megapixel camera. Specs settled all debates. End of discussion.

But in this new, post-PC world, usability dictates which device “wins.” ZDNet picked up on this theme in a post that claims “user experience is everything, hardware not so much.” Quoting from their article:

Apple has proven time and again that the user experience is the primary thing on any product that will get millions of mainstream consumers to purchase and enjoy using the gadget . . . The user experience is everything, from the way a device handles users’ common tasks to how pleasant that experience is perceived by the device owner.

The best device is no longer the one with the biggest chip inside. The best device – in this post-PC world – is the one that users enjoy interacting with the most. And with that definition of success, Apple products (including the iPad 2) will continue to outsell their competitors.

Engadget smartly highlights how specs are diminished in the new post-PC era of usability.

In a post-PC world, the experience of the product is central and significant above all else. It’s not the RAM or CPU speed, screen resolution or number of ports which dictate whether a product is valuable; it becomes purely about the experience of using the device. What that means is that while Motorola and Verizon will spend millions of dollars advertising the Xoom’s 4G upgrade options, CPU speed, and high-resolution cameras, Apple need only delight consumers and tell them that specs and and speed are the domain of a dinosaur called the PC.

Apple’s iPad defined the tablet space just as the iPhone changed the very nature of the telephone. But it wasn’t the hardware that made Apple the second largest publicly traded company on the planet. Their dedication to usability and creating simple, stable products that people love to use drove their growth.

Mar 02

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Events, Gadgets, Products, Stage Two

Apple Announces iPad 2

White iPad 2

Apple's iPad 2

Engadget had a great live blog from Apple’s media event this morning, where Steve Jobs and others introduced the iPad 2. As expected, the iPad 2 has a slimmer form factor and more processing power than the original tablet from Apple. It also has front and rear facing cameras and a gyroscope. The iPad 2, which comes in both white and black, will ship March 11th along with iOS 4.3, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. Other features touted during today’s announcement include a 10 hour battery life and updated Garage Band and iMovie Apps.

Jobs took this opportunity to highlight Apple’s first mover advantage in the tablet space. He remarked, “many have said this is the most successful consumer product ever launched. Over 90% market share . . . our competitors were flummoxed.” In fact, the iPad has sold more units than every other tablet PC ever sold.

But jobs went further to differentiate Apple from other consumer electronics manufacturers. First, he defined the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad as post-PC devices. He then stressed Apple’s commitment to delivering technology to the arts and humanities.

“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology is not enough. It’s tech married with the liberal arts and the humanities. Nowhere is that more true than in the post-PC products. Our competitors are looking at this like it’s the next PC market. That is not the right approach to this. These are post-PC devices that need to be easier to use than a PC, more intuitive (emphasis added).

Apple has dominated the tablet space in past year. As we blogged earlier, other companies need to innovate – rather than imitate – if they want to compete with the iPad 2.

Feb 16

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Marketing, Products, Stage Two, UI/UX

Why You Won’t Beat the iPad by Building an . . . iPad

Hey, you look familiar.

If anyone really wants to compete in the tablet space, they can’t do it by creating products that look and feel almost exactly like Apple’s iPad. We’ve blogged on this topic before, but it bears repeating here. Chasing the iPad’s form factor, feature set and price point will not differentiate PC tablets or attract new customers (with the rare exception of the Apple haters, which isn’t really an exciting market to fight about). If anything, we can easily see the decision to copy the iPad driving even more consumers to Apple’s tablet.

The three most prominent tablets in the news right now (that aren’t the iPad) are the Blackberry Playbook, the Motorola Xoom and the recently announced HP TouchPad. What do these tablets all have in common?

They all feature interfaces that look the same as iOS.

It doesn’t matter if competing tablets run Android, Windows or webOS. They all run operating systems that look like the iPad’s iOS. Sure, some tech enthusiasts (read, fanboys) will line up for the next version of Android, but for the vast majority of consumers, all the tablets look the same. This is a disadvantage for iPad competitors. They have failed to innovate and differentiate themselves.

They all have a form factor that mimics the iPad.

All of these tablets look like the iPad (sure, the Samsung Galaxy is a bit smaller, but the device hasn’t sold all that well and suffers from a 16% return rate). For the most part, other tablets are following Apple’s lead. The TouchPad even has the same one-button design. Engadget writes that it “is shaped almost exactly like the iPad.” The Xoom and the Playbook also have a physical profile that mirrors Apple’s original. Where is the innovation from Apple competitors? Where is the tablet that has ten physical buttons (hyperbole here, to be sure, but why only one button)? Where is the tablet that is easier to hold? Where is the slide out keyboard? There are so many ways to create a unique tablet experience, but most tablets today are content with imitating the iPad.

They all have prices similar to the iPad.

Almost all of the competing tablets have price points near the iPad’s (except the crafty Xoom which costs $200 more than an iPad). The failure to differentiate on price is a de facto win for Apple. Quoting from my earlier blog post:

No consumer will want to spend more than $500 for a Windows or Android tablet. At that price point, they will simply purchase the iPad. It is desirable, it is stable, it is fun and has a cultural allure attached to it thanks to Apple’s brilliant design and marketing.

Even pricing below $500 is problematic for Apple competitors. A $300 tablet is just close enough to the iPad’s price that people will probably wind up mowing a few extra lawns or clocking some overtime to get their hands on the genuine article from Cupertino.

They all have the same target customer as the iPad.

Sure, there are a few specialized fields where non-iPads can grow rapidly (think medicine, defense, kids tabs, and enterprise solutions). But apart from those arenas, it seems that every tablet coming out from PC makers is competing directly for potential iPad customers.

They have all announced products that haven’t shipped yet.

There is almost no upside to announcing products that are not complete. All you wind up doing is telegraphing your punches and revealing your plans to the industry at large. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, these other companies have announced their unreleased tablets prior to the iPad 2 shipping. Has no one read The Art of War?

“The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known.”

-Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Why would a company move its “army” (read, tablet) into field when it knows the enemy (read, iPad 2) is coming very shortly? What advantage is there in telling the world about a new device that isn’t quite ready yet and will ship sometime soon? There is almost no discernible advantage. In general, do not share your product road map, and do not announce products publicly until they are ready to ship.

Conclusion

Hardware manufacturers will not erode iPad’s first mover market position by copying the iPad. In order to gain market share (and mind share) tablets need to show people something they haven’t seen before. Where are the tablets that let you divide the screen into multiple sections and run different programs in each “zone”? Why do all the other choices seem to be copies of the original iPad? Given the explosive growth of the iPad, other tablets need to innovate, not imitate.

Feb 08

Posted by Jim

Posted in Marketing, Stage Two

Why Engineers (Usually) Aren’t To Blame For Missed Product Deadlines

Picture this: Your company is about to miss a second product deadline that you’ve committed to publicly. You’ve told the press that you are launching Feature X tomorrow and QA knows it’s not ready. What do you do if you are the CEO? Marketing Manager? VP of Engineering? Whose fault is this and how can you course correct?

Many people’s first response is to blame the Engineers. After all, they didn’t deliver on time. It must be their fault. But this is usually an oversimplification of the product development process. There are best practices for managing a product crisis, and almost none of them involve screaming at engineering.

Ideally you never want to be put in this situation. But examining this hypothetical example of missed public deadlines can be instructive for executives and professionals in a variety of fields.

The first question to ask when staring down the barrel of a (second) public shaming is, “How did we get here?” There are many ways this scenario could have happened.

This kind of problem usually occurs when a company builds something new. Maybe it is a first-run product or a new set of features. Maybe there is a new third party API. Whatever the product or feature is, it typically contains a lot of unknown variables and hidden horrors that push out expected deadlines.

There are also institutional issues that contribute to missed product milestones. Problems can occur when business or financial motives arbitrarily set product deadlines without getting sign off from the “boots on the ground” in engineering.

A good rule of thumb for setting product development deadlines is to have the engineering team 90% confident that they can meet proposed milestones. Not the head of engineering (at least not without the confidence of all his team leads). Not the CEO. Managers can’t will something into existence if it requires code, no matter how persuasive they are. Make sure that all the people who own the product have committed to the date and encourage them to send honest feedback up the food chain.

Of course, the best possible scenario is never missing a public deadline in the first place. Here, then, are our guiding principles for managing missed public deadlines.

1. If you miss a publicly announced deadline, don’t set a second deadline publicly.

2. If there are variables in the project that are out of your control (such as third parties) don’t set a new deadline publicly.

3. Only announce a ship date after the product is ready to ship and all the bugs are worked out.

4. If marketing (or any other department, for that matter) changes product features, engineering needs to adjust the ship date. If this date is publicly available, you must communicate the changes to the public.

5. If you work in Marketing/ Communications/ PR/ Social Media, be realistic. Don’t be hopeful, optimistic, pessimistic, angry or ashamed. Be real. No one cares how you feel about your missed deadline. Stick to the facts.

6. Don’t blame others for your own missed milestone– it’s petty.

7. Clearly explain why the deadline was missed. Open the kimono and tell what happened (in diplomatic terms), what your initial expectations were and why you were wrong.

8. The moment an organization knows a product will be late it must begin the process of communicating that information to the press and public. The sooner the better.

An analogy here is to think of going on a hot date. If you have a date with an attractive person at 8:00 pm, and you know that you are running late, when would be a good time to tell that person that you won’t make it on time? Should you tell them as soon as you know, or at 7:59 pm? It all depends if you want another date.

9. CEOs should investigate the process and find out where it broke down. In addition to issuing personal apologies the CEO should be prepared to fire inept senior managers.

In general, keep your product road map a secret. Ask yourself why you are announcing something before it is ready? It can’t be to drive sales, because the product is not on sale. Is it for pre-orders? There is almost no upside to releasing dates to the press and public. There are, however, many downsides.

Apple does this incredibly well. If Apple told the media that iPad 2 would ship on XX day with YY features, that would only cut into the original iPad’s sales. So they never announce a product until they know that it is ready to ship. To conclude, there are many things executives can do when a public deadline is missed, but the most important one is to not give a revised deadline that people will not have faith in.