by Toby Chishick, social media planner, agenda21
The tablet market exploded last year, with the ipad hitting the shops in April 2010 and dazzling consumers with its sleek shiny design, simple to use touchscreen interface and range of apps and features available to download in seconds. However, this was not the first tablet computer, not by a long way. In 1987 the Z88 was launched and remarkably still has a dedicated user base due to its raw simplicity which allows its users to write documents, keep a diary and do simple spreadsheets – Douglas Adams even wrote a novel on it!
In the last decade electronics manufacturers have tried to make progress in the tablet market with the ‘ultra-mobile PC’ first launched by Microsoft and Intel in 2006, and there were pre-empted attempts from Sony in 2004 with their Vaio U Series which were at the time the smallest independent computers running Windows XP. However, due to non-global distribution strategies, and a lack of marketing as well as the devices simply running standard PC operating systems rather than doing anything new, there wasn’t mass adoption.
When Apple launched the ipad they built on the architecture of the operating system and e-commerce systems which were already well-established amongst consumers from their ongoing iphone empire as well as integrating their multi-touch screen technology and slim-line aesthetics that make their products so desirable. Their marketing strategy was strong, selling in the multimedia aspects of the device highlighting movies, pictures, books, games, calendar, newspapers, web-browsing all the while showcasing the beauty and simplicity of the interface being operated casually by jean clad men and women with their feet up.
There are many reasons why Apple have succeeded in leading the way in the tablet computing market, but I think that the web experience is key. The way people consume and interact with media has changed a lot in the last few years and Apple have capitalised on this by dominating the online space with the itunes store and app store. While they started by creating the itunes store, a virtual shop where you can purchase music and movies, apple have opened up the web with apps, millions of which facilitate media consumption through downloading specific content or accessing it live online. This has caused the huge shift in consumer behaviour.
The publishing industry is one of the biggest to be affected with physical newspaper circulation decreasing year on year over the last five years. However with the rise of the tablet and smartphones with apps, newspapers are now able to easily facilitate simple subscription services through any device’s native marketplaces (Android Market, Ovi store and ‘the app store’ are the main ones). Then there’s books and magazines who can now also trade online to a growing audience with no print or physical distribution costs. This new digital format for publishing not only opens up new, (and ultimately more sustainable) possibilities for revenue for newspapers, magazines and authors but also expands the boundaries of creativity allowing them to integrate video, images and interaction into their publication. Al gore’s new ibook is a good example of this.
At agenda21 we work in digital media and we are finding more and more that this transcends the traditional idea of going online on your home computer and it is important for us to make sure our clients (and their content) are being seen, found and engaged with in the right spaces, whether it be on smartphone, games console, or tablet device so it is crucial for us to understand these space and their developments and adoption amongst consumers.
This is why it is interesting to read the results of the survey from content strategy agency Seven about user behaviour from ipad users which found that the most popular activities on the ipad are accessing the web (75% do so at least every other day), emailing (63%) and playing games (48%), followed by social networking (41%), researching products and services (29%), reading books (25%), listening to music (21%) and shopping (19%), then reading magazines (13%), using the iPad for work (13%) and watching TV (11%). It is also worth noting that 51% of ipad owners who had read both print and ipad versions of a magazine preferred the experience on the ipad, while 42% say they are more likely to pay attention to interactive magazine advertising on the iPad than advertising in magazines and newspapers, (31% disagree). In terms of brands engaging with their audience with branded content apps, the future is bright as 16% have bought a branded app from a company and a huge 84% of respondents would be very interested in an app from one of their favourite brands, if it was free and non-subscription.
Apple have sold over 200 million devices worldwide that run their tablet/phone software iOS, have had over 130 million books downloaded in just over a year of launching the ibook store, and there have been over 14 billion app downloads (two for every person on the planet). With the launch of more devices from competitors who wants a slice of the tablet market, (such as HP and Sony) it is important for us to optimise our advertising campaigns and clients’ assets – as a quick example we would not recommend creating a whole site out of flash, and would recommend using a great tool called Onswipe to make your site/blog more compatible for the browsing on the ipad! As with much of the digital world, the technology, apps and advertising opportunities for tablet computing are fast moving and as a digital agency we need to constantly keep abreast of how we can reach our clients’ customers most effectively in this space.