"Who wants a Stylus? You have to get ‘em; put ‘em away; you lose ‘em—yuck! Nobody wants a Stylus! We’re going to use the best pointing device in the world…We’re going to use our fingers."
That was Steve Jobs in 2007, as he unveiled the iPhone to the world. But even five years after the unrivaled success of Apple’s smartphone and its subsequent touch-screen iPad cousin, competitors in the space are still heralding the Stylus pen as central to interacting with mobile devices—fingers be damned. A whole range of smartphones and tablets still come with a pen accessory; Microsoft showed off a Stylus in June when it revealed its much ballyhooed Surface tablet; and only this week, Samsung made the S Pen the key differentiator for its Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. “The S Pen…really, truly changes the game,” said Samsung Electronics America president Tim Baxter.
But even after over a decade on the market, it’s clear brands still have no idea how to market e-ink accessories. Looking back at years of promotions for Stylus pens, what’s readily apparent is how few benefits marketers can imagine for the devices—which is perhaps indicative of how little benefit Stylus pens actually provide consumers.