Who will win the tablet ad wars this Christmas?

campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 15 November 2012 08:00AM

In the ultra-competitive tablet market, the effectiveness of the ads could be key. Matthew Chapman assesses the contenders.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1…its stylus sets the device apart

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1…its stylus sets the device apart

Santa’s little helpers (or the Foxconn factory workers) will have to work overtime to satisfy the demand for tablet computers this Christmas. Apple faces real competition for the first time in the UK tablet market with the arrival of a number of serious rivals, and all are spending large amounts on advertising in the run-up to the festive period.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire has picked up a 16 per cent share of the US tablet market since launching there a year ago, while the Nexus 7 manufacturer Asus recently claimed that one million of the devices are being sold per month.

Microsoft is late to the party but is putting its considerable weight behind its joint Surface, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 ad campaign with a global media spend believed to be pushing the £1 billion mark.
Research from Kantar shows that one in four tablets in the UK are gifts, and this figure is set to explode this Christmas as they look set to dominate the TV ad breaks.

Ian Fogg, the head of mobile at IHS Screen Digest, predicts that "in volume, Apple will do best this Christmas; in percentage growth, Android tablets will triumph; and Microsoft will edge it on the visibility side".

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Agency Cheil Worldwide

Samsung is attempting to differentiate itself from the competition by showing the creative possibilities available to users through the Galaxy Note 10.1’s stylus.

The South Korean company’s efforts to make the stylus its key selling point could come across as forced, with Benedict Evans, a consultant at Enders Analysis, arguing that "they are trying to create an idea of what you would do with it".

One consequence of the legal wrangle between Samsung and Apple was the former revealing that it had sold only 1.4 million tablets in the US up to June 2012, a figure dwarfed by Apple sales.

However, Samsung is set to embark on another TV advertising offensive for the Galaxy Note 10.1 this month as it seeks to capitalise on Christmas.

Fogg says Samsung’s success in the smartphone sector gives it a "tremendous springboard" into the tablet market. But its huge product range leads him to conclude that it is seen as a "ubiquitous" brand, which counts against it because of the premium nature of tablets.

Nexus 7

Agency Mullen

In terms of volume sales, Google’s Nexus 7 is a threat to Apple in the market. The device is manufactured by Asus and designed to be a "best-in-breed" Android tablet.

With a seven-inch screen, it competes with the similarly sized Kindle Fire and iPad mini. Fogg believes the sector has split in two and likens seven-inch tablets to "portable" paperback books, comparing the ten-inch versions to less-wieldy hardback books.

Nexus 7 has yet to launch a TV ad in the UK and, to date, has relied on press activity. Evans says the Nexus branding is "heavily male", a point reinforced by a US TV campaign that shows on a father and son on a camping trip. A female-focused spot was due to launch in the UK but appears to have been shelved.

iPad mini

Agency TBWA\Media Arts Lab


Apple’s latest, miniaturised iteration of the iPad is twice the price of the Kindle Fire, its rival seven-inch tablet.

Evans says the iPad mini should be seen as a "smaller, more portable and significantly cheaper version of the iPad" and it "misses the point to compare it to cheaper and much less-capable devices".

The iPad mini has the strongest app ecosystem of any tablet because its screen resolution is the same as the iPad and iPad 2, meaning that it is compatible with all 275,000 apps in the App Store.

This Christmas, Apple’s worst enemy will be itself. In the past, Apple has staggered its product launches but, this year, it has rolled out a fourth large iPad, the iPad mini, a new iPhone, a new iPod touch range and an updated version of the Macintosh and iMac.

Tough economic times and modest disposable incomes could affect sales despite a high-profile TV campaign.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Agency Cheil Worldwide

Samsung is attempting to differentiate itself from the competition by showing the creative possibilities available to users through the Galaxy Note 10.1’s stylus.

The South Korean company’s efforts to make the stylus its key selling point could come across as forced, with Benedict Evans, a consultant at Enders Analysis, arguing that "they are trying to create an idea of what you would do with it".

One consequence of the legal wrangle between Samsung and Apple was the former revealing that it had sold only 1.4 million tablets in the US up to June 2012, a figure dwarfed by Apple sales.

However, Samsung is set to embark on another TV advertising offensive for the Galaxy Note 10.1 this month as it seeks to capitalise on Christmas.

Fogg says Samsung’s success in the smartphone sector gives it a "tremendous springboard" into the tablet market. But its huge product range leads him to conclude that it is seen as a "ubiquitous" brand, which counts against it because of the premium nature of tablets.

Kindle Fire

Agency Undisclosed but believed to be in-house with Tag adapting for the UK Amazon is competing with the dominance of Apple by selling the Kindle Fire at cost, resulting in a retail price of just £159.

Despite being less powerful than the iPad mini, its affordability and close ties with the Amazon-owned LoveFilm video rental service makes the Kindle Fire an attractive proposition.

The Amazon brand ad that showcases the Kindle is heavily female focused. Evans says the advertising is "trying to connect it with mid-market women and older people who do not rush out and buy gadgets".

He adds that Amazon has not fallen into the pitfall of early tablet campaigns that showed "fireworks and advertising" but instead reveals how the device "will make your life easier and fit into your daily life and routine".

Fogg points out that the challenge for Amazon this Christmas is to build up awareness of the Kindle Fire in the UK, where the device has recently launched.

Microsoft Surface

Agency Undisclosed

Microsoft’s first venture into tablet manufacturing is "interesting but problematic", according to Evans. He
says that, at the same price as the iPad, it is a "tough sell" to people who don’t need access to Microsoft Office when on the move.

The Surface is likely to suffer the same problem as smartphones running on Windows – a lack of apps. Developers are prioritising their time on creating iPhone and Android apps, rather than making ones for the less-popular Windows.

Evans believes advertising for the Surface is "a lot more kinetic" than that of its rivals and is "about connecting Windows with the idea of being easy, useful and portable".

The interface used by the Surface aims to be consumer-friendly through colourful tiles that push consumer-centric content including news items, games, e-mail and Facebook updates. However, Fogg says Microsoft is "going to be a very small player in the market this year because they launched very late in the year".

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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