The iPad. A 1.33lb Revolution?

They said the automobile was just a fad. ‘They’ were wrong. They claimed personal computing was a novelty for the wealthy. ‘They’ were wrong. Now, there are some that claim the iPad is just another trend, waiting to be passed by. Yet again, ‘they’ appear to be wrong. With industry insiders and tech prognosticators hailing all things iPad these days, it appears to be headed for uncharted territory – everywhere.


First things first. Apple is selling their iPad at an unprecedented pace. In total, Apple has now sold 14.8 million iPads since its launch last April, making it an unequivocal success. What’s more impressive is the gravitational pull it’s having on young people. In November 2010, Nielsen reported that an iPad was at the top the Christmas list for kids ages 6 to 12.


How is this possible? Apple is creating new and future users within the classroom. By embracing education at all levels, Apple has found a way to sell thousands of iPads, while growing their user base, without a substantial advertising budget.


Apple has been developing a school market for the iPad by working with textbook publishers on instructional programs and sponsoring iPad workshops for administrators and teachers. With the ability to download up to 600 textbooks on one 16GB iPad, Apple is cutting down on the costs of textbooks, both to schools and to students.


In New York City, public schools have ordered more than 2,000 iPads, for $1.3 million. More than 200 Chicago public schools applied for 23 district-financed iPad grants totaling $450,000. The Virginia Department of Education is overseeing a $150,000 iPad initiative that has replaced history and Advanced Placement biology textbooks at 11 schools. Six middle schools in four California cities (San Francisco, Long Beach, Fresno and Riverside) are teaching the first iPad-only algebra course, developed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Even kindergartners are getting their hands on iPads. Pinnacle Peak School in Scottsdale, Ariz., converted an empty classroom into a lab with 36 iPads.


The list goes on… In 2004, Duke University gave every incoming freshman a brand new iPod loaded with practical information: schedules, campus tours, and even the Duke fight song. This spawned a majority of current students to ‘invest’ in iPads as a means to negotiate workload, textbooks, and their social life.


Even teachers are getting in on the act. “iPad use in the classroom makes a teacher rethink the goals of his or her class,” says Duke Professor Satti Kanna, “The iPad makes me break away from text-dominated lectures to more media-sensitive teaching.”


In 2011, Stanford University School of Medicine aims to digitize its curriculum “as a way to lighten the load of textbook-toting students, and to learn how best to teach an extremely tech-savvy generation of students who’ve grown up in a wired world,” according to the school’s website. This means the entire incoming class is equipped with 32GB Wi-Fi enabled iPads.


What does this mean for us? Apple and their competitors are doing an excellent job grooming their future consumer, making planning for the future of information access and the mobile engagement of entertainment a priority for marketers.


Is it for real? Is it a fad? Is it a novelty? Just ask businesses like Borders Books, Blockbuster Video and your local library.


How will you prepare your marketing communications for the world-to-come? Drop us a line to find out what we think.