updated 01:55 pm EDT, Fri October 1, 2010
NPD says iPad cannibalization of PCs low but real
The NPD Group today found that the iPad was having a mild but significant impact on computer sales. While the effect wasn't as large as expected, about 13 percent of iPad buyers had picked one instead of a computer. The relatively low cannibalization was attributed to many buyers still being early adopters that bought the Apple tablet simply because they wanted it. That figure could change once the iPad was more established, the researchers said.
"As Apple increases iPad distribution and consumer interest peaks, the profile of an iPad owner is much more likely to mirror the overall tech population," industry analysis VP Stephen Baker said. "When that does happen other tech products with similar usage profiles as the iPad, such as notebooks, netbooks, and e-readers will come under increased pressure from the iPad. Until then, however, most iPad sales are likely to be incremental additional technology devices in the home, rather than a one-for-one replacement of a planned purchase."
Analysts were unsurprised that many of those that have an iPad were Mac owners. Exactly half of those who bought an iPad within the first two months were Mac users, while 45 percent of those who bought in later months could claim the same. A disproportionately lower number of these also had Windows systems; 75 percent of the US typically has a Windows computer, but only 53 percent of iPad owners had Windows either alongside a Mac or by itself.
It's unclear how much of an effect the iPad has had outside of the US, but ASUS lowered Eee PC expectations in what's believed to be a response to Apple. Samsung's Galaxy Tab is similarly considered a hedge against declining notebook performance.
The iPad so far has had a larger impact on e-readers and may prove to be a larger threat to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. About 24 percent of iPad buyers were getting one in place of a Kindle, Nook or other narrow-purpose device. Early buyers were 38 percent more likely to be reading than they were before in addition to watching more video and otherwise being more engaged.
Among the group, the earliest criticisms were over the lack of USB ports, as 51 percent wanted true expansion. Multitasking and printing were already being addressed by iOS 4.2. Unusually, about 60 percent said there were features they didn't need, but hardware wasn't even a factor until the seventh-place entry. Most complainants singled out software features like photos that they didn't use often. Portability, simple Wi-Fi and e-reading were favorites for what already existed.