updated 05:50 pm EST, Thu January 21, 2010
ChangeWave shows strong tablet and PC demand
A new study today reveals that nearly a fifth of buyers would like to buy Apple's rumored tablet if and when it ships. Even without knowing its features or price, about 18 percent of ChangeWave's January panel say they're either "likely" (14 percent) or "very likely" (4 percent) to buy the touchscreen hardware. The demand is on par with what was seen when the researchers asked about a then-upcoming Intel Mac in August 2005 and, while very likely to change, potentially hints at substantial pent-up demand.
Pricing is a potentially sensitive issue for the tablet. A full 75 percent are willing to buy one if it costs more than $500, but only a portion of these, 37 percent of the total, is willing to buy one if it costs $700 or more. The survey doesn't account for whether or not possible carrier subsidies from AT&T or Verizon would be enough to sway others.
The same research also paints an especially positive view of the PC business, although not necessarily for Apple. The number of those who had bought a computer in the past 90 days reached 23 percent, a high not seen in the two years of the study. Dell and HP results mirrored this with strong but not record results; Apple, however, produced a more mixed effect. New iMacs helped boost those reporting desktop sales to just short of a high at 20 percent, but notebook sales have plunged from 24 percent to 17 percent in just a month.
Andy Golub and Paul Carton of ChangeWave don't consider the drop-off the result of price or a preference for Windows but, instead, as another consequence of Apple tablet rumors. Some customers may be deliberately holding off on purchases to see if the tablet will meet their needs instead or else simply to afford the new hardware. The result is a spring-loading of demand that could actually see overall demand for Apple rebound in February, early signs of which are purportedly in view. Of those panel members planning to get a computer in the next 90 days, 4 percent more plan to get a Mac than did in the January poll.
Apple continues to top the study's satisfaction rankings, as 78 percent of Mac owners are "very satisfied" where Toshiba can claim 68 percent. Preference for other brands such as Dell and HP drops off sharply to roughly half of their respective owners.