U.K. Poll Suggests 'Only' 12 Percent Might Buy a Tablet in 2011: Good or Bad?

By Gary Kim March 29, 2011

A new poll of 1140 Broadband Genie readers in the United Kingdom suggests 64 percent will not be buying an iPad or any type of tablet in 2011. Some 12 percent suggest they "definitely" will buy a tablet in 2011, while 12 percent say they will "if the price is right." About 10 percent they might buy a tablet in the future. Read more here.

Some, including those at Broadband Genie, take those levels of interest as a sign that the tablet trend is overblown. 

"When asked, 'Will you buy a tablet or iPad in 2011?” almost 75 per cent said 'no' – with the vast majority of those not even considering one as an option," Broadband Genie said. 

“Instead of becoming the super selling phenomenon many predicted, it's looking as if tablet PCs will be more of a slow burner," argued Broadband Genie editor Chris Marling. 

“Right now, with even cheap devices falling into the £300 (about $479)  price bracket, many people can't justify the cost," said Marling. But demand likely will change, even so. "As prices come down and the range of uses goes up, we see them becoming more popular in the long term, rather than short term.”

Still, tablet PCs and iPads simply don't adequately replace a laptop, netbook or smartphone in the vast majority of cases," said Marling.

But some might see that level of demand as a huge positive. If 12 percent say they "definitely will buy this year," that might be seen as evidence of significant demand, for a brand new product in a brand-new category. In the past, it often has taken new products as long as seven to 10 years to reach penetration of 10 percent of the population, for example.

In recent years, popular consumer products and applications have reached 10 percent adoption quite a lot faster than seven to 10 years, though. So 12 percent adoption in a single year is actually quite rapid, and suggests strong consumer demand, not weak demand, as some might suppose. 

Apple’s iPad sold three million units in the first 80 days after its April release and its current sales rate is about 4.5 million units per quarter, according to Bernstein Research. This sales rate is blowing past the one million units the iPhone sold in its first quarter and the 350,000 units sold in the first year by the DVD player, the most quickly adopted non-phone electronic product.

So a 12-percent "will buy this year" sentiment is not necessarily evidence of "weak" demand. It might be evidence of strong overall demand. If 10 percent of survey respondents say they "definitely" will buy anything new within 12 months, and just 10 percent do in successive years, a new product in a new category could reach nearly 30 percent penetration in roughly three years. And that would be a success for any new consumer electronics product.

Gary Kim is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee

Contributing Editor

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