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NPD: 13% of iPads are cannibalizing PC sales

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.

by MacNN Staff



  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Wrong interpretation

    The number is by no means mild. When you look more closely at the profile of the iPad buyers so far, you find out that most already have a Mac, majority already have at least one computer, and therefore had no reason to consider another computer first, before choosing iPad. In other words, most of current iPad owners are early adopters, for whom the iPad purchase did NOT affect any other computing purchase decision.

    By this time next year, majority of iPad buyers will be average consumers. By then iOS will likely acquire a few more major features (perhaps over-the-air system update, some form of file system access for sharing files among apps, etc), and might be usable as an independent computer. It is then that we should take another look at the numbers and figure out what is the real cannibalisation.

    It will be significant.

  1. garmonbosia

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Quit calling it cannibalization

    Cannibalization is what you call it when an animal eats one of it's own species. The iPad eating netbooks is called predation.

  1. gskibum3

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I stopped reading at "mild but significant."

    Sounds like "hot but cold."

  1. telemorph

    Joined: Dec 1969


    But it is potentially cannibalization!

    I expect Vasic was postulating that future generations of the iPad would 'eat' into Apple laptop (Macbook) sales, not netbook sales - a category that Apple doesn't compete in.

    Even if Steve Jobs doesn't wish to allow the iPad to evolve to become a potential laptop replacement, he has let the proverbial genie out of the bottle, and others will pursue this path, thereby forcing a competitive response from Apple.

    Yes, these devices will have more in common with netbooks, but the evolution of cloud computing will enable these devices (not current netbooks) to become laptop replacements.

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