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Apple launches new iPad campaign with billboards, TV spots

updated 09:42 am EST, Mon February 18, 2013

Uses number of iPad-native apps as a competitive differentiator

Apple has rolled out an extensive new campaign for its iPad lineup that calls attention to the high number of iPad-native programs available, a point of advantage compared to its competition. The new push, which is highlighted with both billboards and TV commercials, also notes that apps designed to run on the full-sized iPad work exactly the same on the smaller (and by some accounts more popular) iPad mini. Currently there are over 300,000 iPad-native apps.

This figure is far higher than on the Android platform, where tablets have done little to put a dent in the iPad's dominance of that segment by comparison to the success of the platform on smartphones. Though an exact figure is unavailable, the number of tablet-optimized Android programs is said to be a small fraction of iOS's number, reports AppleInsider. Even among those programs, many of the tablet versions of apps for Android are just "stretched" phone apps that don't take any particular advantage of the larger space or tablet features, a fact noted extensively by Apple VP Phil Schiller as part of the iPad launch this past October.

Though not explicitly stated, the issue of truly native-to-tablet experiences is showcased in both the print and TV advertisements, with both showcasing rich experiences that in some cases would be difficult if not impossible to achieve on a smartphone (even one with larger screens than an iPhone). In the TV ads, a list of adjectives whir by rapidly before stopping on a particular word, which is shouted by a group and then demonstrated with various app examples.

In "Alive," the first of the two 30-second debut commercials, the first keyword used is "loud" (showing off Amplitube, an anatomy app showing a diagram of the human ear, a fashion app, and a user playing drums in Garageband. The word "deep" comes up next, showing a planetary app with an animation of the layers of the Earth's crust; the TEDtalks video app; a user pinching to zoom in on cell structures, and rotating a 3D image of the sunken Titanic. The last keyword, "Alive," shows a shark swimming in an interactive textbook; another educational app building the word "exercise," a 3D image of a beating human heart and editing a snowboarding video in iMovie.

Likewise, the billboard ads also tout applications that appear to be exclusive to the iPad, showing images of both full-sized and mini iPads utilizing two types of themed apps with a title such as "Ear opening" for music apps, "Elementary" for educational apps, "Well versed" for books and "Mind watering" for programs with rich visual experiences. In particular, the entire campaign both overtly and subtly emphasizes Apple's significant advantage in interactive and educational iPad experiences, again a point raised by Apple executives previously.

The second TV ad, "Together," continues the learning and interactivity motif -- using the keyword "wild" to showcase an iBooks opening of a tome by Oscar Wilde; a dinosaur game; a children's app where users can blow dry a girl's hair, making it wave around, and a music performance video being played on Vimeo. The word "bright" is illustrated by an educational app letting users flick a switch to illuminate the screen; view an interactive model of the brain, and a tour of the galaxy.

The last section of the commercial features apps under the theme of "together," including four users playing with Rockmate (an interactive musical instrument app); viewing photos in iPhoto (with an implication of using Photo Stream); an "air hockey" type game for two players and FaceTime, Apple's high-quality video chatting app.

By contrast, most ads that feature Android tablet apps (particularly the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Kindle Fire ads) use still images to show off the tablet's suitability for viewing photos, and rarely showcase interactive, educational or collaborative apps -- seemingly positioning the devices as strictly passing-consuming type products that often seem to be portrayed as little more than Internet-capable digital photo frames (albeit with a lower price tag) rather than rich media products.

by MacNN Staff



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