January 14, 2011, 4:51 PM — When it comes to the bevy of new tablet computers coming to market, a tablet maker's brand will take on more significance than ever.
Brand, which is far broader than "brand name," has become an all-encompassing, almost-indefinable essence of a company. It explains, for example, why many analysts believe Apple will introduce an exciting, successful second-generation iPad later this year. Because it is has the Apple brand, it will shine, they reason.
Indeed, the word "brand" has begun to stretch its meaning beyond a company's trademark or its reputation. It now includes elements such as a manufacturer's popularity, marketing savvy and ability to design and build quality products. Brand has come to encompass the maker's ability to distribute its products widely and to support them and its customers.
By contrast to Apple's iPad, some analysts are already expressing concerns over the way Research in Motion's brand, more specifically, RIM's strong reputation with business users, will affect sales to consumers of its coming PlayBook tablet .
In the same vein, analysts wonder how well Hewlett-Packard, a powerhouse in servers and printers with a strong brand in those areas, will do when it introduces WebOS products, including an expected tablet, at an announcement Feb. 9 in San Francisco.
Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC, noted that even though HP has a respected brand, the WebOS that HP acquired with its purchase of Palm last year hasn't proved to be a strong brand in the market. WebOS has powered smartphones such as the Palm Pre and Pixi.