Courtesy of Microsoft

Identifying an undeserved or uncontested market niche, then dominating that category is the fastest route to market leadership in the field of luxury real estate marketing or any field of business for that matter.  To be successful in your chosen category, however, it must be a category that you or your company, can serve better than anyone else.

When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPad he presented perhaps the best demonstration in the digital age of this fundamental principle of brand strategy.  On the screen behind him was an image of the iPhone and a MacBook laptop, with a space between them.  He posed this very important question:  “Is there room for a third category of device in the middle?

In this article we are going to use Steve’s logic to analyze whether there is room for yet another category in the middle between a smartphone and a laptop. This is the question to which Microsoft answered, “yes”, with their new Surface device.

According to Jobs, to qualify as a legitimate third category the iPad would have to do some things far better than either of the other two devices.  For example, browsing the Internet, or using the device for email, photos, video, games and eBooks would have to be a far better experience than doing the same thing with a smartphone or laptop.  

At the time netbooks were selling like hotcakes.  But, Steve summarily dismissed the netbook as a “cheap laptop” not a new category.  With over 100,000,000 iPads sold to date consumers have confirmed the need for this distinct third category. 

When you are on the lookout for a luxury real estate category to dominate keep this netbook example in mind:  You need to define a niche that is clearly distinct from other categories, a niche to which you or your company can add extraordinary value. 

Microsoft’s Surface is their first foray into the category of tablets and laptops. In fact it is a hybrid of the two categories.  A flat keyboard (which costs extra) can snap into the tablet, while the tablet is in standing mode, and turns the tablet into a laptop.  But, at the end of the day, doesn’t that turn their tablet into a netbook—another cheap laptop? 

No doubt Microsoft is following in Apple’s footsteps in attempting to control the entire user experience from hardware to software.  Surface runs on Windows 8, which is a completely overhauled version of their flagship product that now works with touch screens.  

Windows 8 may help Microsoft become a distant third major player in the tablet arena in the same way that #2 Google became a challenger to #1 Apple with their Android platform used by multiple manufacturers of tablets But, the Surface itself does not create a new product category because it does nothing far better than a laptop (that can also run Windows 8) or any other tablet on the market.  As such, it confuses consumers as to which devise category it belongs.  Is the Surface a tablet or a laptop? 

Select your luxury real estate marketing category wisely.   Pick an underserved or uncontested market niche that you can serve better than anyone else! 


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