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A look at the framework of Apple's iPad ad

Sang Tang

The iPad, like the iPhone, used the Oscars to make its ad debut. As is typical with an Apple ad, the iPad's ad featured a montage of different uses for the device, all while set to the backdrop of a catchy tune.

In making his case for the iPad, Apple CEO Steve Jobs noted that it would offer a better experience than a smartphone and a notebook computer in the following areas:

  • Browsing
  • Email
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Music
  • Games
  • eBooks

The iPad's first ad reflects this ideal. The ad, when analyzed based on the on-air time dedicated to a particular function, reveals a device that will be marketed for jack-of-all-trades functionality, with a particular focus on its media consumption appeal and differentiation.

About 80 percent of all 720 frames (30 seconds of total ad's total time multiplied by 24 frames per second) of the iPad's ad showed an app being used. And within this time, the photo app was shown the most, accounting for 26 percent of total frames where an app is being used. The mail app came in second, with 22 percent.

With 20 percent of airtime, the iBook app highlights Apple positioning the iPad to compete against eBook readers.

While a New York Times app wasn't shown, the ad, which shows the paper being displayed in a Safari browser window instead, also points to Apple positioning the iPad to appeal those who consume traditional print media publications -- such as newspapers and magazines. Although a Safari browser was briefly shown toward the end of the ad browsing Facebook, almost all Safari activity displayed the New York Times.

In a September 2009 interview with the New York Times' David Pogue, Steve Jobs provided somewhat of a glimpse into how Apple would market and differentiate the iPad. Jobs argued that while dedicated devices such as Amazon's Kindle will always exist and that they may have offer some advantages in doing just one thing, "general-purpose devices will win the day" because "people just probably aren't willing to pay for a dedicated device." The iPad's first ad clearly follows this ideal.

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