The answer is "none".

April 15, 2010 by

Apple’s new iPad was launched on Saturday, April 3. An estimated 250,000 iPads were pre-ordered: purchased online before they were available in the Apple store. The prices for these new devices range from $499 on the low end to $829 on the high end. So I ask you - how many other companies have such eagerly awaited new products that 250,000 consumers would plunk down no less than $500 for a product they have not yet touched or tested?

The answer is “none”.

In recent years, Apple has created a strong reputation for developing cutting edge products. Examples include the iMac, iTunes, iPod and the iPhone. At the time of launch, these were not necessarily new products. They were, however, miles ahead of the existing products in the marketplace. And there’s more….leading up to the launch of the iPad, morning news show pundits discussed the quality customer service that Apple provides in support of its products.

Apple’s reputation for innovation and product leadership along with its reputation for fantastic customer service translates into a real competitive advantage.

Again, 250,000 people spending a minimum of $500 for a product they’ve never touched or tested. That’s a minimum of $125 million in revenue for a product that had not yet been launched.

Keep in mind,’s Kindle has been in the market since November, 2007. Barnes and Noble’s Nook has been available since October, 2009. This makes Apple’s iPad a newcomer to the market. But the iPad goes far beyond the Kindle and the Nook’s capabilities. In addition to downloading a book, the iPad enables users to surf the web, manage pictures, email, download music and videos and more. Yes, the iPad is twice the price of the Nook and the Kindle. How much do consumers factor this in given the giant leap forward in features and functionality?

What if your company had Apple’s reputation for product leadership and innovation within your industry? It doesn’t matter if your company operates locally, nationally or globally. What if your company launched a product that greatly improved on existing, similar products and became the new standard?

What if your customers gushed about the overall experience and were willing to test or try a new product (or service) before it was truly available? In hyper competitive markets (small and medium sized businesses, I’m talking to you), what if you could create product (or service) leadership and an unparalleled customer experience that delivers a true and lasting competitive advantage?