Two powerful positioning statements from Steve Jobs yesterday

by SteveBayle on January 28, 2010

Steve Jobs made two powerful positioning statements yesterday during his introduction of the iPad, one about the iPad, which most of the media seemed to pick up on, and the other about Apple, which hasn’t gotten as much attention as far as I can see.

Jobs is quoted in today’s New York Times front page article http://bit.ly/bm24Z3 as saying:

> The iPad “is so much more intimate than a laptop, and it’s so much more capable than a smartphone with its gorgeous screen,”

This statement clearly positions the iPad between the two giants of the mobile devices industry, the smartphone and the laptop. And more importantly clearly presents the competitive advantage over each.

Just as interesting to me, since I believe that 90% of all marketing comes from positioning, is Job’s repositioning of Apple. The first big step was dropping the “Computer” from the company’s name last year. This lead a lot of analysts and pundits to deem Apple a consumer electronics company. Yesterday Jobs stuck a dagger in that hot air balloon of an idea and presented Apple not only as a “mobile devices” company – selling the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and of course MacBooks – but as the leading mobile devices company in the world. He explained that Apple was bigger than Nokia, Sony and Samsung. So clearly the desktop computer will be a niche product for Apple, for video editors and others who need very high powered machines with multiple hard drives, but the company’s focus will be on mobile devices.
Apple Insider has this story http://bit.ly/cldoU9:

> With $15.6 billion in revenue last quarter, Apple is now the largest mobile device company in the world, company co-founder Steve Jobs proclaimed Wednesday.
>> By revenue, Jobs said, Apple is the largest mobile devices company in the world — larger than Nokia, Sony and Samsung. “It’s amazing,” he said.

Jobs further reinforced this new positioning of Apple by announcing an entire product line of iPads, not just a single unit, as has been the common practice with Apple’s new product introductions. And pricing follows positioning, as he surprised everyone by pricing the low end iPad at $499, a magic price point in consumer tech products, not the $700 to $1,000 most had predicted. (Of course you can pay that much if you elect for the high end 3G models plus accessories, if you like).

So once again Job’s does his A++ presentation, filled with more hyperbolic words like “amazing” etc. than ever.

Now it will remain to be seen whether or not the iPad is an iPhone of a NeXT machine. Some of you may remember NeXT, the company Steve started after getting fired from Apple. NeXT produced a machine we sold at MIT when I was Director of Information Services there and ran the campus computer store amongst other things and my boss, Jim Bruce, was on Steve’s advisory board.

NeXT failed in the market because it was what I call a tweener, it lacked the power of the Sun, DEC and other workstations it was going up against in academic computing institutions like MIT and it was much more difficult to use than a typical PC. Plus it was as expensive as a workstation. Its brilliant software, NextStep lived on when Apple bought NeXT, leaving the elegant, but overpriced and underpowered hardware behind.

My two big concerns about the iPad, ergonomics and business productivity applications, were both addressed head on by Apple with its docking keyboard, support of Apple’s wireless key board, and release of a version of iWorks tuned to the touch screen interface. Still it remains to be seen whether the iPad will in effect replace the laptop – I certainly plan to leave mine at home permanently as soon as I get an iPad – or struggle as a tweener, lacking the power, business apps, keyboard, camera and other features of the MacBook laptop line.

Posted via email from Startups and Downs

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