Apple iPads Cannibalizing Netbook Sales

Apple's iPad tablet computer is indeed taking a big bite out of planned netbook sales, according to market watcher ChangeWave, confirming a trend that companies ranging from AMD to Best Buy have cited in recent months.

ChangeWave Research, in surveying 3,108 consumers last month on their buying plans, found that just 14% of those who plan on buying a laptop in the next 90 days say it will be a netbook. That's down from 18% at the start of the year and down 10 points from the peak netbook buying number from June of 2009. (Laptop and desktop buying plans have remained largely unchanged.)

Tablet computers, meanwhile, are riding a wave of enthusiasm fueled by the iPad's success: ChangeWave found that 72% of iPad owners are very satisfied and another 23% are somewhat satisfied.

But it's not all about the iPad. Tablet buzz has been kept at a fever pitch via the seemingly non-stop introduction of tablets from a slew of players, including RIM, with its PlayBook, and Dell, with its Streak. The Samsung Galaxy Tab and HP Slate are among other new entries.

Also read: 7 new Windows 7 tablets

ChangeWave also says the end of the recession is making buyers more open to purchasing tablets -- which can be pricier than netbooks, says ChangeWave VP of Research Paul Carton.

One in four respondents said they plan to purchase a tablet computer in the future, with 80% saying their choice will be an Apple iPad. The Apple tablets are becoming easier to come by, too, with carriers AT&T and Verizon last week making them available in their stores.

Research In Motion's PlayBook, Samsung's Galaxy Tab and HP's Slate are also on buyers' radar.

A slew of market research has been released in recent weeks and months on the tablet market, with Gartner estimating nearly 10 million tablets will be sold worldwide this year, with both consumers and corporate buyers gobbling them up.

"Mini notebooks will suffer from the strongest cannibalization threat as media tablet average selling prices drop below $300 over the next 2 years," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, when that research was released last month. "Mini notebooks will suffer from the strongest cannibalization threat as media tablet average selling prices drop below $300 over the next 2 years.".

The cannibalization of assorted PC markets has been a hot topic in relation to tablets. Best Buy's CEO told the Wall Street Journal at one point recently that notebooks sales were being as much as halved due to tablet sales and AMD's CEO also has said that both netbooks and higher-end notebooks have been cannibalized by sales of the iPad and other tablets.

Some industry watchers, such as NPD, have said it's still too early to say whether iPads and other tablets are harming PC sales.

"People are equating usage with sales," said NPD's Stephen Baker, who recently told Computerworld how confusing the two can lead some to conclude that because they see lots of iPads in the wild, the tablet must be taking sales away from traditional PCs -- especially netbooks and secondary notebooks.

Bob Brown hopes not to cannibalize Network World by posting regularly on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/alphadoggs

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