Apple wants you to know something that most consumers probably already assume is true: the iPad 2 is easier to use than competing slates. A new Apple ad trumpets the iPad 2's ease-of-use edge, an important marketing advantage as a flood of iPad-like tablets arrive on the scene.
The new video ad stresses usability over specs: "This is what we believe," the ad's announcer says. "Technology alone is not enough. Faster, thinner, lighter: Those are all good things. But when technology gets out of the way, everything becomes more delightful, even magical."
What, no "revolutionary" too?
OK, Apple has a point. From a consumer's standpoint, the ability to use a newfangled, tablet-friendly feature -- video chat, for instance -- with as few headache-inducing hassles as possible will always trump a battle of the specs.
The tablet wars have just begun, of course, but no iPad competitor has yet captured the public's imagination. No one is lining up around the block for the Motorola Xoom or Samsung Galaxy Tab, despite the impressive specs of those Android-based slates.
The Xoom's 10.1-inch, 1280-by-800-pixel display may be slight larger and sport a higher resolution than the iPad 2's 9.7-inch, 1024-by-768-pixel screen, but few folks outside of Geekdom will study those numbers. And while Samsung says its new 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab will be slightly lighter and thinner than the famously light-and-thin iPad 2, tablet shoppers may not notice.
Most people I talk with who either recently bought a slate, or are shopping for one, usually say the same thing: They don't just want a tablet, they want an iPad.
The challenge facing Android tablet makers like Motorola and Samsung -- not to mention Hewlett-Packard with its upcoming TouchPad, and Research In Motion (RIM) with its new BlackBerry Playbook -- is how to overcome the ubiquitous I-want-an-iPad mindset.
One option is to turn the ease-of-use argument against Apple. The iPad, of course, doesn't support Adobe's Flash Player, a limitation on Web video that doesn't jibe with Apple's it-just-works mantra. Competing tablets like the Xoom either have Flash or will soon get it.
Similarly, the iPad 2's mediocre cameras will likely disappoint a fair number of users. An Apple competitor could spin the technical superiority of its tablet's camera as an ease-of-use advantage.
Or...which slate makes the best Frisbee? Nobody's gone that route yet.