Opinion: Perspective - The iPad lacks its predecessor's most desirable feature

By Ivan Pollard, a partner at Naked Communications, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 12 February 2010 12:00AM

A few weeks ago, we had to change our e-mail server, which meant we finally got on to the iPhone bandwagon - albeit right at the back of the queue. Having lived with my beautiful gadget for a few weeks, I have to tell you ... it is rubbish.

I know I am not the first to point this out but it still came as a surprise to me. Why should that be? Because I, like many others, was subject to Apple's brilliant piece of marketing misdirection.

If marketing excellence is the art of making you value something, desire something, yearn for something way beyond the rational appeal of the product itself, and do it for the barest minimum cost, then surely this is genius. A magnificent marketing campaign that revolves around nothing more than six letters: I, P, H, O, N and E.

This is brilliant because it confers a value on the product that is consistent with Apple's other hardware and software but pulls off a piece of conjuring that has not been seen since Tommy Cooper shuffled off this mortal coil.

The truth is that the iPhone is not really a phone at all. It is a lovely little portable internet device. If my own experience is anything to go by, as a phone it sucks. It is always dropping the call; always struggling to get a signal; always running out of juice; always difficult to hear properly. But it is beautiful and it does do all those crazy internet things.

And I was seduced by the power of the name.

This is often overlooked but when we put due time and effort into it, the name itself can carry a huge amount of the marketing effort and generate innate brand appeal. Think Innocent, think Jawbone, think 118 118, think Dr Zogg's Sex Wax. But it can also go wrong. Segway, Zune and, now, unbelievably, the iPad, Apple's recently announced beautiful big portable internet device.

Are those marketing geniuses getting sloppy? What a terrible name, which, as The New York Times so delicately put it, "makes half of its audience of a certain gender associate it with an entirely different product category". Less Cover Flow and more overflow.

It is so odd that in an industry that specialises in advising clients how to spend their money to make people love their products, we so often forget to advise about one of the most important things - the name. There are some great naming agencies out there but too often their work is divorced from that of other types of comms specialists and that can lead to the sort of problems Apple has just encountered. Maybe if it had had a woman on the team, she would have suggested the iTab or the iBok or the iGo. Anything but the iPad.

Type "Apple iPad Mad TV" into YouTube, watch the four-year-old clip and ask yourself how on earth Apple never discovered this flaw in its naming strategy for this new product.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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