iPad: Surveys Show Why and How We're Buying it

A pair of new surveys finds increased consumer interest in Apple's iPad, and extremely high satisfaction among iPad users. Users are not only surfing the Web and checking e-mail but also using applications from Apple's App Store, watching videos and reading e-books.

A May survey of 3,174 consumers found interest in the iPad has grown compared to a similar study in February, before the iPad was released. Seven percent of the sample say they're "very likely" to buy an iPad, compared to 4% in February, and 13% say they're "somewhat likely" to buy one, compared to 9% in the earlier study.

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A second survey questioned 153 iPad owners to assess their early experience with the tablet, which was bought by 1 million people in the first four weeks after its release. Both studies are by ChangeWave Research, which specializes in tracking changes in consumer and corporate spending.

Apple released the 3G cellular version of the tablet in early May.

Nearly three out of four iPad users say they are "very satisfied" with the tablet. Another 17% say they're "somewhat satisfied." Only 1% report being "somewhat unsatisfied" and the same percentage say they're "very unsatisfied."

Asked what they liked best about the device, users answered:

* Screen size and quality (chosen by 21% of respondents).

* Ease of use (15%).

* Overall size and weight (12%).

* Portability (10%).

These are many of the points Apple's marketing and advertising have stressed. The responses suggest that Apple's design decisions accurately targeted user requirements and desires.

But nothing is perfect. The top iPad dislikes:

* Lack of Adobe Flash (11%).

* Internet connectivity issues (9%).

* Poor screen visibility/keeping it clean (9%).

ChangeWave listed 16 possible iPad uses and asked the device owners to list which ones they used most often:

* Surfing the Web (83%).

* Checking e-mail (71%).

* Apps from the Apple App Store (56).

* Watching videos (48%).

* Reading eBooks (33%).

* Playing games (29%).

The diversity of uses, including the multi-media applications, show the touch tablet is well suited as a general-purpose mobile form factor. "The survey findings show the degree to which the iPad is meeting the challenge of becoming a truly convergent device," according to Paul Carton, ChangeWave's director of research, writing in a blog post about the results.

The large-scale consumer survey shows that the iPad has quickly found a niche as an e-reader. A bit less than 10% of the respondents, 245, say they currently own an e-reader. Of this group, 62% own Amazon Kindles, by far the most popular device. But after just four weeks, the iPad was second, used by 16%. It has already outstripped the Sony Reader and generic smartphones with e-book capabilities, each with 7% of the e-reader respondents in the survey.

A look at the content preferences of this subgroup, showed a change from ChangeWave's February study. In the more recent survey, e-readership of newspapers and magazines has surged: 18% say they read newspapers on their e-reader, up 7% from the earlier study; and 14% read magazines, also up 7 points.

iPad users are much more likely to read both on their device: 50% of these users read newspapers and 30% read magazines. For non-iPad users, the comparable numbers are 14% for newspapers and 11% for magazines.

The complete ChangeWave report, available for $1,500, can be ordered and downloaded online.

Follow John Cox on Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww

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