Apple owners nearly 40% more interested in the iPad than non-Apple owners
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Apple owners nearly 40% more interested in the iPad than non-Apple owners

Even though the iPad doesn’t officially become available for another week, awareness is strong among certain key demographic groups, according to a new report by The NPD Group, a market research company.

The report report found that awareness is highest among current Apple owners, (82%), consumers with $100,000 or greater income (80%), and 18-34 year olds (78%). Those demographic groups are the ones with the most interest in buying an iPad. Only 18% of all consumers surveyed expressed a real interest in owning an iPad while 27% of 18-34 year olds and 24% of Apple owners said they were extremely or very interested.

One of the main reasons Apple owners are interested in the iPad is because it’s an Apple product, says The NPD Group (which is no big surprise, is it?). Thirty-seven percent cited “liking the Apple brand” as a top reason for their interest in the iPad. That tied with “multi-touch screen”, which was also the number one reason driving interest among 18-34 year olds. The 18-34 year old consumer is also the most likely to play music and access the Internet on the iPad.

“The most interested potential iPad customers see it primarily as a music device, or for its internet access capabilities,” says Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD.  “Considering what people are planning to use the iPad for, it’s not hard to understand why people who have these capabilities on other devices, such as the iPod touch or a notebook/netbook, may not want to spend $500 or more on a similar device.  This points to the need for Apple to close the content deals that focus the iPad on what is likely to be its best long-range value proposition around high quality media consumption.”

For some consumers, and even among Apple owners, the prospect of spending US$500 or more for a new device that doesn’t yet have a clear advantage over their other primary devices is unappetizing, he adds. Among the tech-savvy 18-34 year old demographic, 57% cited price as the number one reason they aren’t ready to buy; that’s 25% more than the overall percentage of non-interested buyers.

Among Apple owners, 43% felt that the pricing was too expensive. But it’s not the price tag alone that’s making the iPad seem too expensive to these non-interested buyers, according to The NPD Group. The other factor is that they are equating the iPad to a notebook or netbook replacement. Among 18-34 year olds and current Apple product owners “rather use a notebook or netbook instead” was cited by 51% and 44% respectively of those demographics as a reason not to buy.    

Even those key demographics who expressed the most interest in the iPad aren’t making a strong commitment to purchase an iPad in the near future and that mirrors what overall consumers are saying, per the research group. When asked what the likelihood of purchasing an iPad in the next six months was, 9% of all consumers surveyed said they were “extremely or very likely” to do so, as did 10% of 18-34 years olds and 9% of Apple owners.  But there were a greater number of consumers who were “not very likely” or “not likely at all” to purchase an iPad in the next six months.  Sixty-six percent of both the all consumers surveyed and 18-34 year olds don’t foresee an iPad purchase in their future, and 60% of Apple owners felt the same way.

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