I came across an article yesterday in which the headline screamed out “Apple’s Brand Unraveling.” The author even went on to call the new naming of the new iPad “weird.”
Apple’s brand unraveling is the furthest thing from the truth. In fact, what Apple did with the new name is extremely calculated and strategic and in fact sets in motion a most important new branding statement. Before I get into the strategic value of the new name, you might ask how I know that this branding move is strategic. Well, it came from Steve Jobs himself. The last time I spoke to him when I caught him at the end of an Apple launch early last year, I asked him about the iPad’s positioning. When the iPad launched, it seemed very consumer focused, but by the time I asked him about it, the iPad had crossed into being a pretty solid productivity tool. I won’t go into detail here about his view on this but one thing he said in the conversation is that he wanted people to think of the iPad as their designation for their tablet and the fact that it had broad reach. He did not say iPad 1 or iPad 2. It was very clear to him that the brand was the iPad and the first two versions were just model numbers. He never even referred to them as 1 or 2.
Now from a strategic position, this new iPad actually represents the real iPad he and Apple always wanted to deliver to the market. I consider the first two models early versions of the iPad and this new iPad is the first one that really represents Job’s vision for the iPad. Apple had to use the existing screen technology that was available for the launch and used this in these first two models. But Apple executives told me that it has taken close to three years and incredible engineering work to finally bring to market the real iPad of Steve Job’s dream. This goes back to Steve’s incredible attention to detail. Remember in his Stanford speech when he talked about getting into the beauty of calligraphy? I am sure that he was somewhat disappointed with the fonts and even fancy letters on the original iPads as the screen just did not have the resolution to deliver the high quality non-pixalated text he came to love. And it is that vision that was always in Jobs’ plans when he and the team were creating the iPad.
Now, do you really think that Jobs, who had worked with the team on a long-range plan for the iPad well before he passed away, was not aware of the iPad retina project? And that he was not involved with the branding and new naming of this new version since it was the one he really envisioned from the start and represents the real iPad he always wanted to give his customers? For Jobs, this one with the Retina Display was the iPad! And as such, it now finally deserves the name “iPad.”
So, what does that mean? From this point on, any iPad they do will have at minimum this Retina display and deliver extremely high-resolution images, video and text in the ways Jobs envisioned it to be from day one. Now, text on an iPad is actually better then it can be even on paper. (My colleague Steve Wildstrom has a good piece on this today.)
And images are closer to being what you see in real life. And movies can be seen in higher resolution then you get on your HD TV set today.
All of this and nothing less is what from now on will define what an iPad is. While they may have future models such as an iPad mini or iPad biggie should they create other versions, the brand is iPad and from now on the name is set to mean all Apple branded tablets with their Retina display and high quality imaging experience. This represents a strategic branding move and a very important one.
So, let’s be clear. The brand of all Apple tablets is the iPad. There may be other models, but they will all be iPads. Doesn’t sound too weird to me.