After days of speculation about the Apple tablet flooding your Facebook news feeds and Twitter streams, it is finally official.
On Wednesday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the company’s highly anticipated latest creation, the iPad. Aimed at bridging the gap between smart phones and traditional laptops, this device is multi-faceted, offering possibilities for web surfing, video watching and electronic book reading. Although this might sound at first like a revolutionary creation, many still wonder: Why would consumers pay hundreds of dollars for yet another Internet-connected screen?
With a country that has only just begun to rebound economically, who has the money to keep on buying Jobs’ line of high-end tech toys?
One would assume that an influx of cost-cutting consumers is eating into Apple’s bottom line.
This is not the case, however. What’s even more astonishing is the fact that college students, although a number of them are tightening their budgets, are buying Macs, iPods and iPhones in escalating numbers.
A survey of 1,200 college undergraduates conducted last year by Student Monitor, a market research agency that focuses exclusively on college students’ habits and behaviors, found that 43 percent of those who intended to buy a notebook computer anticipated buying a Mac. According to Eric Weil, the agency’s managing partner, this figure represented double of those who said they planned on purchasing a notebook by Dell and seven times as many as those who intended on buying one by Hewlett-Packard.
USC’s campus is no exception to this phenomenon of Apple hysteria. Both Leavey and Doheny Libraries feature rows of Apple computers. What’s more, the majority of our Trojan population seems to own MacBooks and iPods.
Sowjanya Chintalapati, a freshman majoring in architecture and a Mac user, puts it best: “Mac is like a cult. Once you own one, you feel like you’re a part of this close Mac community.”
But what is the impetus for this accelerating trend?
Apple has a reputation of being the “cool” brand. Owning Apple products makes people feel modern, popular and part of the in-crowd.
Yet, although Apple’s products may have evolved to be status symbols, the secret behind their loyal customer base lies in something that is more than just skin deep. The reality is far less complicated — Apple simply has a large group of very satisfied customers.
The primary aspect of Apple’s customer satisfaction lies in the efficient and user-friendly nature of its products. With the customer in mind at each stage of the product design, Apple’s products are tailored to be as easy to use as possible, no matter how technologically savvy the customer might be.
With Apple carving this route for its consumers through its products, society is clearly moving toward a direction that is synergizing an advanced technological era with an improved standard of living.
Yes, it is “cool” to own a product by Apple, especially among college kids where self-image and popularity are valued by so many. This in no way, however, indicates that trend has become more important than function when making buying decisions. In fact, Apple’s products gained the label of being trendy only because so many consumers were delighted by the simple and user-friendly nature of its products.
Apple has no inventive formula for success; the company’s strength lies simply in the user experience it provides, and the new iPad is no doubt going to live up to Steve Jobs’ description of it — “magical and revolutionary” — at least that’s what iThink.
Amrita Parekh is a sophomore majoring in psychology and communication.