There Is No Tablet Market: Why Consumer Experiences Matter

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Ben Bajarin is the Director of Consumer Technology Analysis and Research at Creative Strategies, Inc, a technology industry analysis and market intelligence firm located in Silicon Valley.

Buried deep in the language on Apple’s website for the iPad 2 you’ll find this phrase: “It’s not a tablet, it’s iPad 2.” I would also challenge you to find Apple publically calling the iPad a tablet. The fact of the matter is they don’t, and there is a specific reason for that.

I don’t believe there is a tablet market because I don’t believe in the term “tablet.” We analysts, researchers and media people all gave these devices this term. We have this inherent need to categorize electronics. We called the iPad a tablet. Not one Apple executive has ever called it that.

(MORE: Apple Will Still Be Apple, Even Without Steve Jobs)

I fully believe in the category of a touch based computer. I just don’t believe in the term “tablet.” To prove my point, ask a non-techie consumer to explain a tablet without using the term “iPad.” It becomes a bit of a challenge. Consumers know what iPads are but they don’t understand tablets. The worst thing manufacturers can do right now is call their devices tablets.

I would also argue that Apple doesn’t create products—they create experiences. And I believe that consumers desire experiences, not products.
Disneyland, for example, is an experience, not a product. Disney products, however, help make Disneyland the experience that it is.

This is why every element of the Apple ecosystem—from the hardware to the software and services—is designed to be an experience. The look and feel of the hardware, the user interface, the look of the apps, the bright and high-resolution screen, the graphics and more all create the Apple experience.

This is why when the iPad is turned off, it’s just an elegant piece of hardware. But when you turn it on, that is when it becomes an iPad. That is when you get the Apple experience.

Companies making what we call tablets are not creating experiences. They are just creating products. This is what needs to change if they hope to compete with the iPad.

(MORE: Why Competing with Apple Is So Difficult)

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