May 10, 2011 at 12:30 PM ET
Don't blame the iPad for affecting PC sales, says The NPD Group: Nearly 75 percent of iPad buyers say they weren't choosing between the iPad and a PC when they made their decision to purchase.
"The consumer PC market isn’t floundering because of the iPad, in fact, the rate of cannibalization is actually declining among more recent purchasers," NPD said in its "Apple iPad Owner Study II." The iPad-eating-into-PC sales discussion has been ongoing since last fall, when early reports indicated it was hurting PC sales.
"Only 14 percent of early iPad adopters (iPad owners of six months or more) abandoned a PC purchase for an iPad, and that dropped to just 12 percent of iPad owners who purchased over the past holiday season. In fact, cannibalization of netbooks is actually down by 50 percent among more recent iPad buyers, when compared to early adopter buyers."
Stephen Baker, NPD's vice president of industry analysis, said in a statement that the "explosion of computer sales when Windows 7 launched (in fall 2009), as well as the huge increase in netbook sales at that time, are much more to blame for weak consumer PC sales growth than the iPad."
While Apple has sold more than 19.5 million iPads since April 2010, when it became available, Baker says "it appears that the vast majority of iPad purchases to-date have been incremental to the consumer technology industry.”
NPD says that the under-$500 "segment" for Windows consumer notebooks grew by 21 percent for the six months ending in March to "become the largest segment of the consumer notebook market."
“The conventional wisdom that says tablet sales are eating into low-priced notebooks is most assuredly incorrect,” Baker said. "The over-$500 Windows consumer notebooks market is where PC sales have been impacted the most, with a 25 percent decline from October 2010 to March 2011.”
Also, Best Buy and Apple sold 75 percent of all iPads during the holiday period, NPD said.
"Comparatively speaking, the (wireless) carrier stores (AT&T and Verizon Wireless) had much weaker results, accounting for just 3 percent of sales. Clearly, consumers’ indifference to 3G connectivity was a driving factor as sales for the basic $499 Wi-Fi only iPad increased by almost 33 percent during the holiday period to nearly one-in-three sales."
“Consumers just do not see the utility in 3G connectivity,” said Baker. “There’s an added expense for the device and for the service, something a majority of iPad owners aren’t willing to pay."
Besides, he says, "since most iPads rarely venture away from home, the value of a 3G connection is likely to diminish, especially as other tablets enter the market and pricing starts to fall. When every penny counts, features that aren’t core to the user becoming increasingly marginalized as manufacturers fight for every sale.”