Will the Apple iPad and Other Tablets Hurt PC and Mac Sales, or Not?

by Reads (5,269)

Will the Apple iPad and other tablets bite into sales of bigger PCs, or will they just act as additions to the gadget collections of early adopters? Some signs from analysts point in one direction, and others elsewhere.

Online consumers who either own or plan to buy tablets fit a “typical early adopter profile,” remarked Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester Research, in one recent report.

“They own multiple PCs and connected devices; they’re voracious media consumers; and they have an affinity for other Apple products but aren’t exclusively ‘Apple-ites,'” according to the Forrester analyst.

14% Plan to Buy Tablets

On the other hand, more online consumers in the US intend to buy a table within the next 12 months than those looking at buying either a desktop PC, a netbook or an e-reader, according to the very same Forrester report.

Specifically, 14 percent are eyeing a tablet, 8 percent a desktop PC, another 8 percent a netbook, 11 percent an e-reader, and 13 percent a laptop. Although Epps didn’t focus on this question here, if sales of the tablet will be the strongest of all, aren’t tablets already making a dent on other computers such as desktop and notebook PCs and Macs?

PC and Mac Sale Slowing

Another analyst, Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty, did reach a conclusion just like that in assessing the NPD Group’s July survey of retail computer sales in the US.

“iPad momentum is likely contributing to the moderation of broader PC and Mac unit growth,” Huberty contended, in a note to clients.

NPD’s results showed PC sales to consumers growing at 3 percent in July as opposed to 6 percent in June, and Mac sales growing at 14 percent in July vs. 11 percent in June, for example.

Meanwhile, Apple sold 3.27 million iPads between April and June, according to its own statistics.

Two Types of Tablet Users

If overall PC sales keep rising but more slowly than before, while more consumers want to buy tablets than other computers, what does this say about the role of iPads and other tablets?

Maybe two types of tablet users are emerging. It does seem that many people are buying tablets just as additions to their gadget collections. Yet could it be that others are already investing their dollars in tablets instead of the new desktop PCs, notebooks, or netbooks they would otherwise buy?

Apple iPad to Dominate

Meanwhile, under either scenario, Apple stands to benefit most. According to research from yet another analyst firm, Apple will dominate the tablet market through 2012, despite the release of “real iPad competitors” like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Asus Eee Pad before then.

The Apple iPad will make up 74.1 percent of global tablet shipments in 2010, with the rest consisting of older PC-type tablets and competitive slates, according to research released today by iSuppli.

It will take some time for makers of other new tablets to get their products to get their products to market, “longer for them to offer necessary software support and infrastructure, and an even lengthier period to begin to rival the overall user experience Apple is able to deliver,” observed Rhoda Alexander, iSupplie’s director of monitor research, in a statement.

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