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Was iPad Hype Its Own Worst Enemy?

by Sean P. Aune | February 11, 2010February 11, 2010 8:48 am PDT

Prior to Jan. 27th, you would have thought from all of the rumors circulating that the then unknown iPad was going to essentially do everything you ever dreamed of short of curing cancer.  Unfortunately, shortly after Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, walked off the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco that day, reality seemed to quickly set in, and dreams of curved corner devices quickly stopped dancing through everyone’s heads.

The hype and speculation surrounding the long-rumored Apple tablet had gone on for so many years prior to the official announcement, it is unclear that anything that was announced that day could have lived up to the hopes and dreams of the masses.  Retrevo, a site specializing in comparison shopping assistance for electronics, conducted a survey of consumers before and after the announcement that showed a sharp increase in the number of those that said they had no interest in the device.  Not all of the news was bad as the number who said they thought they would like to buy one tripled.

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These numbers are not at all dissimilar to ones reported by Compete about the iPhone after its launch in 2007.  The numbers at that time showed that before the iPhone was announced that 26 percent of people had intended to purchase the iPhone, but after the details of the phone came out, the percentage dropped to 15 percent.  As you can see from recent reports on smartphone sales, Apple shipped 25.1 million iPhones in 2009 alone, so you can’t always trust these types of surveys.

No matter what surveys may say, the true test of a device will be its sales, and according a report from The Wall Street Journal, Apple is willing to keep the pricing of the iPad “nimble” so that it can be changed as need be if the device fails to gain any traction after its release in March.  While this news making it out to the general media probably is not the most optimal situation for the company as it may cause some potential customers to wait out a price drop, it does show a definite commitment to this newest addition to the company’s line-up.

There are times where Apple’s ultra secretive nature seems to backfire on the company as people go wild with their speculation about what new products will do, and they can rarely live up to even the most conservative estimates of what will be presented.  These surveys are usually conducted by sites that specialize in news technology enthusiasts seek out, so the results are not exactly unbiased cross-sections of the general population.  As I’ve said before, the iPad is a device for the masses, and not the technorati elite that are filling Web sites with their displeasure with the device lacking a camera and other features.

As this device gets out into the hands of your average consumer, word-of-mouth will spread, and the more people that see it, the more they will want it.  Sure the amount of hype may have damaged the image of this device before even one of them has shipped, but will that really matter after you see someone on a subway with one and you think, “I have got to have that device now!”


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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