As an Australian having only recently started writing for Business Insider as a contributor, I’ve noticed a big difference from the readers that I’m used to writing for – the international audience of the site seems to have a much higher expectation that a sarcastic comment is in fact a derogatory one.
Now, this isn’t a knock on anybody by any means – if anything, it is an acknowledgment from myself that you guys haven’t appreciated some of the things that I’ve said. I see your point of view and I’ll be taking it under advisement.
So, let’s meet each other half way.
Firstly, I’m an Australian. We’re a playful lot, we tend to have a dry sense of humour and we also like to summarize. For us in Australia, we would read “the iPad is a fad” as “the iPad is super popular and everybody has to own one right now because everyone else does.” If anything, that’s a tip of the hat to Apple and their popular device more than anything else as the statement is a clear acknowledgment that it is doing well. What the Business Insider readers have indicated to me is that they read my saying of “the iPad is a fad” as “the iPad is a passing fad,” like it isn’t worth your mind share beyond its supposed 15 minutes of fame. Fair enough.
So, let’s just clear the air now and point out that when I used the word ‘fad’ to describe the iPad, I meant it as a positive assessment of its position in the market, not a negative one.
There’s another consideration to bring up on this topic though – I often use the word to describe a niche of computing that is full of copycats and this probably requires further elaboration as it is absolutely relevant when talking about the iPad.
In all the public speaking and private pitches that I do, I always use the exact same “chart” to describe the progress of a technology niche in the IT world – it’s a time-based chart with three phases titled “the innovation”, “the fad” and “the consolidation”.
Here’s how I describe each the three phases:
- The innovation is when a new niche is born – someone has done something extraordinary to capture the imagination of both the public and their vulture competitors
- The fad is when the copycats come out of the woodwork and create imitations of the innovation to try and capitalise on the innovation, and
- The consolidation is when the niche experiences contraction – this could be from mergers/acquisitions, companies going bust or graceful exit from a market.
The companies left standing after the consolidation period then become the true players in a technology niche.
The idea of this chart is to achieve two things:
- To demonstrate that in a lot of cases the company represented in the innovation column is almost never one of the companies left standing after the consolidation period, and
- That if a technology niche hasn’t yet been through the consolidation period then in most cases it is not a very dependable niche to spend money in.
My latest topic of discussion in using this model has been in describing Social Media and Social Media Marketing in particular. I’m telling businesses that with the consolidation beginning to happen in that niche, they can start to feel good about taking it seriously and spending money in that area as the remaining players are standing out now – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Now, let’s figure out where tablets are in that chart.
- The innovation? Windows XP Tablet Edition doesn’t count and the iPad certainly wasn’t a copy of those older laptop-turned-tablet devices. The iPad is the measuring stick, it is the innovation.
- Plenty of copycats have now emerged to try and capitalise on the success of the iPad – the tablet niche has passed the innovation phase and entered the ‘fad’ phase.
- Consolidation? Not yet – in fact, there are more copycats entering the market such as HTC with the HTC Flyer tablet and Hewlett-Packard with the TouchPad.
Therefore, according to this assessment, tablets are still a ‘fad’ – a few companies are yet to think clearly and realise that they have no hope and may exit the market, whilst companies like Motorola Mobility are prone to go bust or be acquired on the cheap with devices like the Xoom clouding their business judgment.
If anything, the real slur in using the word ‘fad’ in my articles is implied towards the copycats of the innovation, not to the innovation itself. When it comes to the iPad and the tablet market in particular, my feelings on the hopeless nature of the market have been well documented.
I’m glad that we cleared that up. :)
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