Why Honeycomb Needs To Ramp Up Its Marketing Mojo

Marcia Marcia Marcia! As it was in the Brady Bunch, so it is in real life. Like Marcia, the iPad is getting all the attention. Honeycomb tabs are living a life of obscurity, unable to get a footing in the general consumer mindset, and are genrally as unlikable as an unloved middle sister. Why? Marketing. Apple is good at it and Honeycomb tab makers are bad at it. It’s that simple.

Everyone knows about the iPad. Even my 87 year old grandfather told me about an article in his local newspaper about the device. He’s extremely interested in the tablet despite never using a computer before. This is the man that gifted me his beloved slide rule when I entered high school trigonometry. He knows and wants an iPad; he’s never heard of the Samsung Galaxy Tab or Motorola Xoom.

Apple marketing of late is a thing of simplistic beauty. They show quick clips of a device’s functions. That’s it. There isn’t a deep, metaphorical meaning involving a throwing of a hammer or even two contrasting characters quipping back and forth. They let the device stand alone. That’s it.

Honeycomb tab makers rarely utilize this technique. Motorola went the metaphorical route with the Xoom for its Super Bowl debut. Asus, Acer and even BlackBerry, if the PlayBook is also considered, rarely advertise at all. Samsung is the prime exception and took a very Apple-like approach with the original Galaxy Tab for its 2010 launch and also for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 more recently.

But the Honeycomb tabs need more than just marketing help. You can’t even find the damn things in many stores.

John Biggs initially received our Motorola Xoom review and quickly passed it onto me for the full review. But I couldn’t wait for him. I had to try it out and so I went down to Best Buy. It took a solid 5 minutes of random searching to find the Xoom within the computer department. It was stuck on the back wall with the overflow netbooks. That’s where it is today a full six months after its launch.

Retailers seem not to care about Honeycomb tabs. Just last week I went to Office Max for some card stock. I found that the TouchPad had its own end cap while four Honeycomb tablets shared one. That’s fine in my book. At least they were getting some love, I thought as I walked up. But none of them had power. They were just $500 black screens.

The iPad gets all the attention with fancy endcaps. But it’s not all the retailer’s faults; the fault also lies with the tablet’s maker who failed to establish a solid marketing plan with the retailer. Endcaps cost money, money which Apple is clearly comfortable spending.

But it’s still partly on the retailer. Up until very recently, Verizon.com advertised iPads and tablets; they were separate categories. Look at BestBuy.com: the tablet category is called Tablets iPads & E-Readers. That naming scheme is certainly pro-consumer. People have heard of all three items and iPad, much like the iPod with MP3 players, has better name recognition than every other tablet.

Honeycomb tablets, along with the HP TouchPad and BlackBerry PlayBook, do not stand a chance unless their makers step up the marketing and retailer plans. If Apple has an endcap, Samsung needs to buy the neighboring endcap. It’s that simple. So is the marketing techniques. Show your product and how it works. Repeat its name. Leave the watcher with a sense of warm desire — just like Apple does with the iPad commercials. Or just keep the course and drive Android tablets deeper into obscurity.