Why Apple’s iPad Will Be a Content Marketing Game Changer

A Powerful, Portable, Flexible, Connected, Social, and Cool Information and Entertainment Device for the 21st Century

ipad ibook store

[I have made corrections below on the elements to the original story re Apple Newton. I made the edits because careful reader, Zach Leary, noted my Steve Jobs history was way off and that he had no involvement in the creation or development of the Newton.]

Timing is everything. Too early with too little for too few and you lose. That was the fate of the Apple Newton which might be considered the great grandfather of the iPad.

That won’t be the future of the iPad as it comes to market at just the right time, providing a marvelous new outlet for content marketers to capture the increasingly mobile digital generation that now includes most of us.

The Sad Fate of the Apple Newton in the 1990s. Great idea. Unfortunate timing.

For Apple, the Newton was a tablet pc that was too early to deliver on its lofty promise in the early 90s.  It failed not because the ultimate concept was wrong, but because users weren’t screaming for a mobile device and because the Newton’s capabilities were limited and disappointing to many.  In many respects, the Newton was a remarkable product for its time, but it didn’t deliver enough value to captivate millions of users as its descendents the iPod and iPhone have done.

Apple might have been too early with a tablet but will be will be proven right over time. Steve Jobs killed it off in 1998 when he returned after his multi-year hiatus.  But the tablet concept lived on.

The iPad delivers what the Newton just hinted at . This new device reflects everything Apple has learned about computing and communications as they introduced and continually improved their highly mobile products–from the Newton to the iPod, to the iPhone, and now to the iPad.

The iPad in 2010 is Dressed for Success.  Incredible idea. Terrific timing. Genuine Game Changer.

The new iPad dwarfs the old Newton: It’s colorful, connected, powerful, packed with storage, easy to use, larger, thinner, and just a bit heavier.

ipad and newton size comparison

The iPad not only delivers solutions for today’s users demand, but is perfectly positioned to dominate for years to come as the standard for tablet computing on the go.

When you introduce a product that matches a confluence of powerful trends, you win.  Here’s why I believe that the iPad is that product:

The iPad: Dominating 2 Critical Trends That Will Drive the Future of Computing

  1. Print is giving way to digital content for almost every generation. This seismic shift applies to books…to newspapers…to magazines…to catalogues…to advertising…to direct marketing.  It’s impossible to avoid headlines that shout out the disintegration of traditional print.  Even the best newspapers struggle with print while attempting to make their online products both compelling and profitable.  Costs are up. Subscriptions are down. Staffing has been slashed. Ad revenues have plummeted.
    We are consuming our information digitally and leaving paper behind.  That trend will only accelerate as we find just the right digital solution to meet our information consumption needs.
  2. There is another equally powerful tectonic transition– from stationary to mobile. Today we expect to be able to compute and to connect with the world on the run. We also expect to receive the information we want instantly wherever we are. And, since the days of portable cassette players and the Sony Discman, we also want to take our entertainment with us as well.  But, now the definition of entertainment is much broader and includes games, movies, books, and magazines. We want our fun on the run.

In short, we want everything that we have always wanted but we want it on our terms. We are impatient mobile consumers of information and infotainment.

Apple: Seducing Us First with the iPod and the iPhone—Tablet PCs by Any Other Name

Apple has been warming up users with small devices that they adore—the iPod and the iPhone. They have trained us to love their own version of  ‘tablet pc’s’ even though that’s not what they called them. Hundreds of millions of users are now comfortable using Apple touch screens and virtual keyboards even on these super small computers.  That makes them tiny—and unbelievably successful–tablet computers.  The numbers tell the story:

  • The iPod. Launched October 2001. 240 million sold by Jan 2010.
  • The iPhone. Launched June 2007. 33.75 million sold by Q4 2009.

In spite of  the iPhone/iPod’s miniature form factor, millions of users are using these computing cousins for much more than phones or music devices. They are put them to work:

  • to browse the internet
  • to read online newspapers and magazines in the browser
  • to read books via Kindle iPhone app
  • to manage calendar and task info
  • to manage finances
  • to play games
  • to connect with friends/colleagues via email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • to share pix and videos
  • to use a myriad of business and personal applications—2 billion downloaded by Q3 2009.

Soon users will be doing even more, more enjoyably by migrating to the next generation of tablet computers: the IPad.

Let’s Get Large. Bringing the Best of the iPod/iPhone to the iPad

ipad vs. iphone

If millions of users are doing so much with such tiny devices, imagine what they will do with a WIFI-enabled, full color, backlit, iPad with a 9.7” screen with 10 hours of reading time.  That’s as large as a small laptop or typical netbook, every bit as powerful, and much more enjoyable to use.

ipad ny times There is a lot to love:

  • It’s large but thin–1/2”—and light–1.5 lbs.
  • Instant on. No multi-minute Windows warm up wait.
  • From the get go, every iPhone application will run unchanged on the iPad
  • Users can buy books in full-color from the iBook store which uses the open eBook standard. It will be easy for authors to get their books onto the iPad.
  • You can read Kindle books in a nice large size with your Kindle iPhone app.
  • You can keep and share all your music, pictures, and videos from your iPod or iPhone.
  • You can browse the iTunes store for music, video, and apps.
  • You will be able to access customized information products such as the NY Times.
  • You can draw and diagram to your heart’s content on a nice, large screen.
  • You can easily connect a real keyboard if you want or use a comfortably sized virtual keyboard.
  • You have a choice of WIFI only (plenty for many users) or the addition of high-speed 3G internet connectivity.

What’s missing and does it matter?

  • No native phone, although you can use Skype or other internet phone software.
  • No camera, but you can easily download pix to the iPad from your real camera or camera-enabled smart phone.

I believe that Apple has gotten the iPad just right and that Apple will dominate the heart of an exploding market for tablet computers where every other tablet pretender will be compared for better or for worse to the iPad.

For content marketers who are increasingly focusing on social and mobile media, the iPad offers loads of enticing possibilities to be newly relevant and compelling to a very active group enthusiasts.  Be there or be very square.


Yes, I will be pre-ordering mine on March 12.  And, no, the Newton wasn’t named after me.

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  1. Posted March 14, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    The real success of the iPod may be due in fact to one thing you didn’t mention– the reasonable, all you can eat data plan on the3G models. While the hardware will be comparatively pricey (twice the average netbook) the net cost will average way down since you’re not paying for a phone plan or a $79 / mo data plan like you do with many wireless 3g wireless modems.

    So are you ordering the wifi or 3g version?

  2. Newt Barrett
    Posted March 15, 2010 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    I am gambling with the wifi, but I will also be adding the Verizon MIFI because I have a new laptop that doesn’t have an embedded network card.
    However, you may well be right that the 3G plan may also lure a lot of people in.

  3. Posted April 10, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I’ve shared you article on digg, well done