iPad2, XOOM, and Sales 101

by Bob Poole on March 9, 2011

Setting the Stage – I’m in the market for a tablet – the computer kind – not the one I used in grade school. Although there is something to be said for the benefits of paper and pen though. But, my Dell laptop is acting wacko (technical term) and I’ve decided to try a tablet instead of replacing the laptop.

I have an iPhone and I was all set on getting the new iPad2. I’m not an Apple evangelist. I have a custom i7 tower running Windows that has screaming speed and all the computational power, bells and whistles that I need for a while. That means I don’t automatically get in line for the latest Apple product. On the other hand, I really like my iPhone and I was a Blackberry user before that.

The Sales & Marketing Part – So when I read about the iPad2 on March 2nd, I was sold. I went to the Apple website to buy it. But, Apple informed me they would not let me place an order. I would have to wait until March 11th which is the soonest Apple will take my money which is all part of their marketing strategy. Apple always makes the early adopters and fans wait and salivate for the newest and best ever. Except this time I’m wondering if that strategy is going to backfire.

I had already made my decision to purchase and I think they should have taken my order. When the customer says I’m ready to buy, Sales 101 says take the order. But, Apple marketing says “We’ll take the order when our marketing strategy dictates.” And, I still might buy the iPad on March 11th. But, I also might buy something totally different – something that a lot of people who get paid for evaluating these kinds of things say is better. And, I wouldn’t know about this other tablet or even want to read about it if Apple had only taken my order when they announced the product on March 2nd.

Here’s what happened that may change my mind. Today my desktop reader had a story about something called the XOOM. The headline was screaming out for my attention so I read the story. What I found is that the XOOM has some major compelling features and benefits when compared to the iPad2. I’m not going to list them because that isn’t what this story is about.

The XOOM is made by Motorola. After reading the article I went to the XOOM site with two questions.

  1. Can you purchase just a Wi-Fi version as I’m not all that interested in connecting to Verizon’s system with another device.
  2. And, how much does it cost.

I couldn’t find the answer to either question on the Motorola XOOM site. I could click on a Buy Now button which took me to Verizon where I was asked my Zip code and told I could buy it for $599 with a two-year data plan which made me think that I can’t buy a Wi-Fi only model. That isn’t what I wanted and I still didn’t have an answer to my questions.

Just for giggles I Googled “Must I buy a data plan with the XOOM?” Guess what? I don’t have to buy a data plan. Although apparently you did when the XOOM was first released. Or, maybe I still do. Talk about confusion. And to make matters worse some of the compelling features are not finished and don’t work. Yikes!

And, this brings me back to Apple. They aren’t confused and they don’t leave me confused. I can go to their site and see every configuration of the iPad2 and I know exactly how much it will cost. I can’t easily do that (if at all) with the XOOM. I leave the Motorola, Verizon and Best Buy sites wondering if they know what they are selling and who they are selling it to. It does not inspire confidence.

The Bottom Line – Apple has their act together when it comes to marketing, design, and customer service (most of the time although I hear stories of service slipping). They are also tuned into their fans like no other company.

Verizon is an entirely different story. Rated one of the Bottom 10 companies in the US for customer service, I can attest they do work hard to earn that distinction. Best Buy who is also selling the XOOM get a Dishonorable Mention in the same survey.

I have confidence in Apple. I find a bit of arrogance seeping into their customer service. So, which do you think I will buy? Which one would you buy assuming you had the need or just wanted one? Why?

I’ll probably get the iPad2. But, I’d still advise Apple to take the order when someone wants to buy and not when they are ready to let them buy.

It’s Sales 101.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jodi Kaplan March 9, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Apple is very, very good at writing copy and getting you to salivate. They keep everything simple, understandable, and manage to avoid the technical mumbo-jumbo that plagues so many other tech marketers.

A post you might like (not mine, I was referred there from copyblogger, which also has a recent Apple-related post):

http://pushingsocial.com/the-apple-guide-to-copywriting-magic

I have a friend who buys every gadget Apple makes. He’s got the original ipad and wants the new one.

I think the “scarcity” is part of the allure and the strategy.

Bob Poole March 10, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Tomorrow is the big day, Jodi, if you want to order an iPad2. I’m still not sure I’m buying. Thanks for the article too!

Tony March 12, 2011 at 2:38 am

Considering that the only limiting factor to how many iPads Apple can sell is how many their suppliers are able to produce I’d say they treat their customers very well. Most other companies in their position would have the attitude “if you don’t like it someone else will”

Bob Poole March 12, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Companies that feel they can treat customers with that kind of an attitude invariably get killed when the market changes. Think Xerox and the copier market. They had the “if you don’t like it someone else will” until the Japanese copiers appeared in the marketplace. They were perceived as better with more features. They almost lost the company as a result of their arrogance.

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