March 26, 2012 at 6:00 PM ET
While the general assumption is that most people buy the least expensive iPad model, the 16GB Wi-Fi-only one, that may be changing. A new study says more purchasers are choosing 32GB and 64GB models.
The iPad with larger storage represented 36 percent of all iPad 2 sales in the months of December, January and February, says Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. No figures are yet available for the sales breakdown of the new iPad, which went on sale in the U.S. March 16.
"In the survey period, Apple sold slightly more Wi-Fi-only iPad models, representing 56 percent of sales, compared to 44 percent of the model with both Wi-F and a 3G phone connection," the firm said in its recently released report.
"The mid-range storage of 32GB accounts for almost half (49 percent) of sales during the survey period, with the smaller (16GB) model accounting for 31 percent, and the 64GB model accounting for 20 percent," CIRP said. The 32GB, Wi-Fi only iPad is $599; the 64GB model, $699. All versions are $130 more when cellular service is added.
Buyers also were gravitating to the "more expensive 3G model with more storage" of 32GB from carriers AT&T and Verizon.
The carriers' shares of iPad 3G models "generally reflect their share of iPhone sales in the survey period," with AT&T having the largest share at 62 percent, and Verizon at 38 percent, CIRP said.
Some of AT&T's win there may have to do with what it charges for data plans: Users pay $14.99 a month for 250 megabytes; $30 for 3 GB; and $50 for 5 GB. Verizon charges $20 a month for 1 GB; $30 for 2 GB; $50 for 5 GB; and $80 for 10 GB a month.
But just because people are buying 3G (and 4G) iPads doesn't mean they're using the cellular networks. (Unlike with iPhone, a 2-year contract is not required with the purchase of an iPad through a wireless carrier.) Another firm, Localytics, has analyzed how new iPad users are getting their data, and says it's still mainly Wi-Fi only.
Localytics looked at all iPad connectivity from March 16-21, and found that only 6 percent of iPad owners are using cellular connections to get to the Internet.
"The cellular-enabled variants seem to be comparatively unpopular, perhaps because of how quickly they are capable of crushing limited data plans," said the firm.