August 9, 2010

The iPad and It’s Profound Impact

Every once in a while, a unique product comes along, muddles up the mobile environment and changes the game; blurring the line amongst various appliances and interactions.  When the iPad first arrived to  the scene, I immediately dismissed it, my argument was a simple and utilitarian one: “The iPad was too big to be mobile but not powerful enough to compete with a netbook or an ultraportable laptop.”  I still find that statement to be true (especially so from a recent trip) but I’m starting to embrace the iPad’s ultimate impact.

As an iPad user, I find myself using the iPad frequently despite my negative feelings towards this inadequate device (as a computer substitute given its size).  The iPad bridges a gap for when I’m in a situation where a laptop would be cumbersome.  For instance, I often browse the iPad while on the couch in front of our television set or laying in bed.  It’s form factor and instant-on ability is why I find myself reading electronic Newspapers in the morning with my coffee at the breakfast table; prior to this, I’ve never brought my laptop along for breakfast to read the news.

As an online marketer and internet retailer, I’m starting to see iPads popping up the chart in the analytics software.  Within Coremetrics' Emerging Opportunities report, the iPad within 3 month of its inception made its way up to become the highest converting and grossing mobile device.  Again, in the beginning, I dismissed the iPad phenomenon thinking there is no need to invest in an unique iPad user interface since its large screen permits a full desktop web experience.  That is until I made the connection with my own usage to realize that while the iPad is capable of most desktop web experience, its smarter if retailers/marketers cater a dedicated device experience (either via mobile web or application) for the iPad users.

Knowing that iPad owners incremental usage and their willingness to engage and transact, I hereby urge all marketers and internet retailers to embrace and offer an enhanced user experience for iPad users.  Simple optimizations such as redirecting iPad users to an alternate website enlarging the text size/hyperlinks/buttons or changing Flash animation to GIF or HTML5 can probably improve conversion rate by a couple of percentage points.  As I’ve stated, the iPad is not quite a mobile device or a laptop, therefore its best that you cater an experience that is just in between.  If you are doubtful, take a look at your analytics software, see how your customers are using the iPad to engage with your brand.  Cheers!

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