This is the question Apple is charged with answering. In other words, would the iPad have redefined the mobile computing market and Apple’s bottom line as the iTablet? It certainly seems like there is something in a name.
Apple’s latest legal battle featuring a Chinese computer-display manufacturer, Proview International Holdings Ltd., as the protagonist centers around who owns the trademark on “iPad.” According to contracts and e-mails provided to the Wall Street Journal, Apple seems to have purchased the trademark from Proview for approximately $55,500 several years ago. But now faced with an imminent bankruptcy, Proview sicced its team of lawyers on Apple and are hoping the notoriously biased Chinese legal system provides an easy payday. So far: mission failed.
Now that the iPad has become arguably the most successful consumer product in the market today, Proview has set its “go away” price at $2 billion. Is the name “iPad” worth it?
We certainly spend a lot of time discussing brand equity and what drives consumers to spend their disposable income. So I started to think about why people buy the iPad. Is it because of Apple’s brand or is it specific to the iPad brand? In this case, I think its Apple’s brand. That said, they should call Proview’s bluff and walk away from the trademark dispute. Proview would end up in bankruptcy, where they belong, and there would likely be no impact on Chinese demand for Apple’s product.
If I were working at Apple, I would suggest a rebranding of the iPad specifically for the Chinese market complete with a new PR/marketing plan. New name, new public relations strategy, new ad campaign, new customers, higher demand. Take this as an opportunity to communicate directly with one of the most important and fastest-growing markets in the world by customizing the product and the company’s message.
Large, multinational conglomerates today should just say no to a generalized public relations strategy coupled with mass-marketing. Apple has the chance to buck this trend. Too often companies search for the next PR/marketing campaign that they can set to autopilot. But, more often than not, it pays to understand your audience and tailor your product and services directly to them. You might just stumble across a new brand and a stronger communications strategy in the process. I truly believe that all politics is local.