The iPad has received acres of media coverage, bringing with it the risk that marketing directors could end up being blinded by the hype. The flurry of activity in marketing departments would certainly suggest that there is a strong belief that the iPad's mainstream success is a foregone conclusion.
The early sales signs have undoubtedly been good; the tablet has already surpassed the 1m mark in the US.
Not surprisingly, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs is bullish about its prospects. 'One million iPads in 28 days - that's less than half of the 74 days it took to achieve this milestone with iPhone,' he says. 'Demand continues to exceed supply and we're working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more customers.'
However, research from Simpson Carpenter, revealed exclusively in Marketing, shows that it is unlikely that the iPad will instantly achieve mass-market status in the UK.
Mike Stevens, director of telecoms media and technology at the research group, says the iPad is 'haute couture to the iPhone's premium fashion'. Whereas the iPhone was launched into an existing category, the iPad is, in effect, forging a new market.
It could be argued, then, that the iPad is the latest example of 'chairman's wife syndrome'. Subsequently, marketers could end up falling over themselves to work out how to communicate through a platform the majority of their customers will never use.
In an attempt to better understand how consumers will interact with the device and what opportunities it will provide for brands, the research identified four key consumer groups, including early adopters and late majority adopters with, and without, families.
The study suggested that the majority of mainstream consumers will reject the iPad on the grounds that it does not have a clear role to play in their lives. Many objections to purchase were based on the device's look and a fear that it could break easily.
Inevitably there will be an impulsive minority of consumers who will go out of their way to acquire an iPad as soon as it hits the shelves in the UK. A secondary 'pragmatic minority', meanwhile, will identify specific benefits before buying an iPad.
However, according to the research, the majority of consumers will not be swayed, suggesting that the iPad will not be a way to reach the mass-market consumer.
iPad: mixed reaction
'A better one will be out in six months anyway, so I'm not going to be a mug.'
'I'm still stuck with a first-generation iPhone. I won't make that mistake again.'
'So I'd pay £400 for this, then add a stand, and a keyboard, and it needs a case to protect it. What else will I need to get? I will probably end up paying more than I would for a new MacBook.'
- Apps simply aren't compelling enough for the majority of consumers
'Browsing the internet while watching TV? I could see myself doing that. But it's not enough to make me buy it.'
'I like the idea of books and magazines but you'd get tired eyes with that screen. And anyway, I like reading in the bath.'
'It would need a stand straight away, and I would want a separate keyboard if I was to do work on it. Hold on, I've just invented the laptop.'
- However early adopters are passionate about it and prepared to pay for content on it
'I listen to Spotify now, with the ads, but if I got this, I suppose I would have to pay for the ad-free version, I wouldn't mind.'
'I'd pay for subscriptions to magazines as part of it if they came in an overall package that included everything so I knew exactly what it was all costing me.'
Source: Simpson Carpenter iPad groups 19 and 22 April 2010