Apple iPad: In the Fast Lane to Success

After months of hype and promises, the iPad is already making strides to live up to sky high expectations. But one of the first customer satisfaction surveys shows room for improvement, too.

Fri, May 21, 2010

CIO — It's too soon to call the iPad a game-changing tech success story, but that lofty title gets closer by the week. With soaring sales, huge gains as an e-reader, real cuts into the netbook market, and sky-high (albeit early) customer satisfaction rates, the iPad's biggest challenge has been living up to all of the pre-launch hype.

"One million iPads in 28 days—that's less than half of the 74 days it took to achieve this milestone with iPhone," said Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs on May 3, only three days after the 3G version had hit the market.

Roughly translated, that's about 200,000 iPads sold every week. iPad sales now outpace Mac sales (110,000 per week) in the United States, and are approaching iPhone 3GS's sales rate (246,000 per week), according to RBC Capital Markets.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster recently checked in with 50 U.S. Apple retail stores and found that the iPad had sold out or is in limited supply at many of them, reports AllThingsD. Analyst predictions range from five million to six million iPad units sold in the first year.

When Jobs announced the iPad earlier this year, ChangeWave Research polled more than 3,000 U.S. consumers and found that 4 percent were "very likely" to buy it, and 9 percent "somewhat likely" without having seen it.

After the iPad hit the market, ChangeWave asked 3,174 consumers this month the same question: Do you plan on buying the iPad? Those numbers jumped to 7 percent and 13 percent, respectively. All tallied, one in five U.S. consumers plans to buy the iPad, according to ChangeWave.

Early signs of customer satisfaction also show promise. ChangeWave surveyed 153 iPad owners and found a 91 percent satisfaction rate, which nears "nosebleed" levels, says Paul Carton, vice president of research at ChangeWave. This high rate of satisfaction comes despite stutter steps in iPad Wi-Fi connectivity and Apple's ban on Flash.

E-Readers, Netbooks Under Siege

Much of the hype about the iPad concerned two threatened markets: e-readers and netbooks. Analysts predicted the iPad would upend the first and carve into the second. So how is the iPad faring on these fronts?

Since its debut a few weeks ago, the iPad has already captured 16 percent of the e-reader market, surpassing more established players like the Sony Reader (10 percent) and seizing second place behind the Amazon Kindle (62 percent), according to ChangeWave.

"The survey shows the Apple iPad is now poised to capture an astonishing 40 percent of the e-reader market going forward in the first 90 days after its launch," writes Carton, in a research note earlier this year.

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