Many people have questioned if the new Apple iPad is really going to sell that many because there are cheaper alternatives out there, and in no short order there will be numerous Chinese knock-offs that hit the market.  The thing is Apple products are not always sold for what they are any more, but more for what they represent.

gold iphoneThere are a few brand names in the world that are far more about their name than the actual quality of the product.  There is an old saying that “nothing says love like a little blue box”, referring to the well-known blue box that all jewelry purchased from Tiffanys comes in.  Sure you can get similar pieces at cheaper prices from other jewelers, but they won’t have that blue box.  Are you buying the contents of the box, or are you purchasing the brand name?

The same can be said for a lot of car models, such as the Escalade SUV.  There are a ton of SUVs on the road that look exactly like it, but yet people choose to buy that car for its name and the status it projects to others.

None of this is to say that these brand names don’t also have a quality to them, and the same can be said for Apple.  Apple is a mixture of quality and status just as all these other examples are.  The major difference for Apple is that it is a status symbol that most people can actually afford.  $499 for an 16 GB Wi-Fi iPad?  No, not everyone can afford that, but a large percentage of the population can.

Some people try to say that you don’t realize how many of the iPods you see out there are actually knock-offs, but they are such good onces you can’t tell the difference.  Well, someone has bought those 250 million iPods that have been sold.  The iPhone hasn’t even been out three years yet and it has sold over 87 million units.  Mind you this is a phone people constantly complain how it isn’t a very good “phone”, so why do you think it has still sold so many?  As much as people complain about the iPhone, someone is still buying the thing.

So, to the nay sayers that say the iPad won’t sell millions … I’m sorry, but I think you’re just flat wrong.  This is coming from someone who doesn’t have an iPhone, hasn’t bought an iPad (I may on the 2nd gen), so this isn’t someone trying to defend their purchase or their fanboy status, it is someone who just thinks Apple has reached a very exclusive pantheon of brand names.  The Mt. Olympus if you will of brands, where there are people who do buy the product for its quality, and those who buy it just so they can say that’s what they have.  Do you think someone wants to go, “Oh, I have a Brand X tablet”, or would they rather say, “Oh, it’s an iPad.”  Say what you will of those types of people, but we both know they do exist.

What say you?  Has Apple reached that status symbol level of brands yet?  Is that part of what drives its sales?