Monday, March 7, 2011

Paying more for less

My first post back after a long hiatus isn't even about public relations, but it is about one of the four p's of marketing: price. I was stunned to learn that the iPad's competitors cost more without delivering enough extra features to justify the higher price.

I was surprised for two reasons. One, Apple's computers have traditionally cost more -- sometimes a lot more -- than PCs. The Mac is more elegant and easier to use, but with a PC you get a lot more computing power and memory for your buck. Given how expensive the iPad seemed in comparison to, say, a PC netbook, I assumed that tablet competitors would also be much cheaper.

Second, and this is the big reason I expected the iPad to be the most expensive tablet computer, is that the iPad hit the market far ahead of its competitors and appeared to be as successful as the iPhone and the rest of Apple's market-crushing devices. So naturally I assumed that competitors would want to price their tablets below the iPad, since it seemed unlikely they would beat its design or operating system.

The Mac has been eating away at the PC's far larger market share for years, but many consumers, including yours truly, hung on to PCs simply because they are cheaper, and we were willing to sacrifice reliability for affordibility. But if Apple's tablet competitors can't beat the iPad on quality or price, then this game may be over before it has really begun.

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