Is Brand Loyalty Enough to Save Apple’s iPad From Microsoft, Android…?

Nobody needs a reminder that when you are the market leader they watch you like a hawk. Take Apple’s iPad. The iPad created a product category that it has dominated; but people just aren’t buying as many tablets anymore. Large-screen smartphones — including the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus — are eating away at the need for a tablet. And the iPad’s design hasn’t radically changed since former Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the device in 2010.  Further, the competition is now tougher than ever. Microsoft finally has a genuinely competitive tablet with the Surface 2, and Android tablets no longer look like amateurs. Unlike smartphones, which get replaced every two years or less, consumers are happy holding on to their iPads for much longer or passing their older devices to family members. As if that weren’t enough, almost everyone who wants a tablet in mature markets such as North America already has one. So what’s a market leader supposed to do?  It’s still too early to tell just how much Apple’s tablet business will be affected by its larger iPhones, but the company has long said if anyone is going to hurt sales of its products, it wants to do that itself. Shrewd marketers that they are Apple has already dropped the price of the iPad Mini and have introduces numerous product innovations in an obvious attempt to expand the market. And they are driving the tablet market in another direction-business. With over 92% of all Fortune 500 companies using iPads, can you guess the magnitude of the business market when that Apple-IBM deal kicks in? Who knows? One thing is for sure: the Apple brand isn’t about performance and imagery. It’s mostly about feelings and resonance which lead to high brand loyalty. So here’s my question: is Apple’s brand loyalty enough to keep off vicious market challengers to the iPad?

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