iPad Mobile Marketing – The NEXT next new thing

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

A bunch of people at work have iPads this week. They are neat, and frankly I’m interested in getting one myself.

Then I read that there will soon be a Nokia Tablet, and Kindle is playing up their head start in content to compete with Apple. So we could be entering the Age of the Tablet.

But wait – aren’t we supposed to be entering the Age of the SmartPhone? Isn’t THAT supposed to be the dominant technology? What if by next year the phones are passé, and it’s these tablets that are the thing that will “change the game?”

And wasn’t SMS supposed to change the game before the smart phones came about?

I’ve been pretty vocal in the last year about saying that the mobile market just hasn’t arrived enough yet to justify large amounts of marketing money from businesses. I said this with the caveat that, someday, and likely soon, it will be important enough to require as much of a spend as one’s Internet budget. Just not yet.

Now I wonder, perhaps by 2011 the mobile market will get about as big as it can get, because tablets will come in to replace them as the “must have” for electronics consumers. Then we will forget all about this smart phone nonsense to concentrate on the real prize: Tablet users!

I wonder about this because it’s exactly what everyone did when we thought text messaging was the way of the future. SMS is still a viable marketing tactic, but it’s shrinking all the time in favor of mobile apps. It peaked. And we don’t really know if smart phones have now peaked – which is another great reason to hold off on paying for a mobile campaign!

If that’s all true, could this mean that each new successive platform can only get so high before it’s replaced?

For example, what would happen if by 2015, tablets were as widespread as smart phones are now. (Which still isn’t very much, but a lot none the less.) Then some company (oh, okay – Apple) develops a portable computing solution that you wear like glasses. This is technology that’s already being experimented with, and if they can get it so people can use these without puking, it could be huge.

Imagine: Instead of a screen it fires the image directly onto your retina; It is fully voice activated; And you can make phone calls on it, take pictures, make change for the bus, bring us peace with honor in Vietnam…

Something like that would have a slow start, eventually kill the tablet market, and would itself be topped by some OTHER technology by 2020. (If we’re following the cycle.)

If we can count on that kind of timeline – unveiling, adoption, replacement – then we know how soon we need to get advertising on some new piece of technology, and how long we have to play it before we need to start realocating ad dollars to the next big thing.

So maybe apps for phones right now is worth spending on, because it isn’t likely to get any better?


  1. As one of those ‘people at work with an iPad’ I can safely say that I agree in totality what you’re saying. Sort of like the ‘cynic’s side to ‘Moore’s Law’ as it were…

    Truth be told, I almost wanted to be proven wrong that the iPad/tablet would change my life, but like I always say…’I hate it when I’m right!’

    Simply because I know I’m going to be plunking down my hard-earned cash on apps and media for this device, because it really IS that good. 4 days in on owning it, and I’m already twice as productive but with half the stress. To me, that makes this thing a game changer.

    I predict that tablets will beat smartphones 2-to-1 by the end of 2011. Not as a replacement for phones mind you, but possibly for the Desktop and Laptop market as we know it.

    Oh yeah, and I’ll be first in line on launch day for the ‘iEye’ wearable computer. Until then, I’ll be playing with my iPad.

  2. Thanks, Kevin – and frankly, I’m still debating plunking down my own money for an iPad. It’s like a PDA on… well, not steroids, buy maybe on PCP – and with a shotgun and no morals.

    But if each successive piece of technology has a market shelf life of 5 years or so, and each has roughly the same trajectory, I think it makes sense to think of these not as the phone market or tablet market or Geordi from Star Trek’s punk rock wrap around glasses market.

    Instead, we should probably look at all of these as the same thing: The New Technology Market, with strategy and budget given to whatever’s here now, whatever’s emerging, and whatever’s going to be new in coming years.

    Christ, I need a second post for all this!

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