Who Poses the Biggest Threat to the Apple iPad?

BETHESDA, MD – June 5, 2012 – As the initial excitement over the new iPad subsides, are there any other tablet makers showing signs they can compete against Apple in the tablet market?

A May ChangeWave survey of 2,893 consumers took a close-up look at North American tablet demand, and finds the Apple iPad continuing to dominate consumer buying plans going forward.  The only other manufacturer that is showing some signs of momentum is Samsung. ChangeWave Research is a service of 451 Research.

Consumer Tablet Demand: Next 90 Days

ChangeWave’s previous two surveys forecasted huge jumps in consumer tablet demand – November’s due to the holiday spending season followed by a March 2012 leap caused by the new iPad release.

In the aftermath, our May survey shows overall tablet demand has returned to more normal levels, with 7% of respondents saying they plan on buying a tablet in the next 90 days.

But when it comes to consumer demand for individual manufacturers, 73% of planned tablet buyers are still reporting they'll purchase an iPad. And while that’s down a bit from the extraordinary demand levels seen at the time of the March new iPad launch, it’s a clear sign that Apple’s massive domination of the market is continuing going forward.

Amazon (8%) remains a far distant second, followed by Samsung  (6%) – who while still in single digits has managed to double its share of planned purchases since last quarter and is the only other manufacturer besides Apple showing some signs of market strength going forward.

Other than that, no other manufacturer is garnering more than 3% of planned purchases.

A key finding here is the diminishing strength of Amazon within the tablet market.  Note that the Kindle Fire launch back in November was initially highly successful – and at the time ChangeWave had correctly forecasted it would be the first big double-digit tablet contender against Apple and would wreak a major blow against other second tier manufacturers.

But by the time of ChangeWave’s March 2012 survey – with the new Apple iPad launch stealing the momentum – demand for the Kindle Fire tumbled.  And the big question since then has been can the Amazon Kindle Fire rebound?

As the following charts shows, it’s been more than two months since the new iPad release and Amazon is still floundering at nowhere near the levels reached at the time of its initial launch.

Kindle Fire planned buying is now down two-thirds since November 2011, and a clue to Amazon’s problem can be seen in the tablet satisfaction ratings of its owners.

Note that in previous ChangeWave surveys we’ve found that the percentage of tablet owners who say they are Very Satisfied with a particular device is highly predictive of future demand.  

And while Apple sets the bar with 4-in-5 new iPad owners (81%) saying they’re Very Satisfied with their device, the Amazon Kindle Fire trails well behind with only a 41% Very Satisfied rating.

Importantly, Amazon’s Very Satisfied rating has declined by 15-percentage points since our February 2012 ChangeWave survey – a downward trend they’ll need to overcome in order to regain their previous firm footing in the tablet market.

Note that the iPad 2 has a solid 71% Very Satisfied rating and the Samsung Galaxy Tab a 46% Very Satisfied rating.

Here are the complete ChangeWave satisfaction ratings, including the percentage of tablet owners reporting they are Somewhat Satisfied and Somewhat/Very Unsatisfied.

Overall, how satisfied are you with your tablet device?

Potential Impact of a Mini-iPad. A second potential threat to the Amazon Kindle Fire and the other second tier tablet manufacturers is the possibility of Apple releasing a smaller 7-inch version of the iPad this fall. Such a new “iPad Mini” would likely have the same features as the current iPad but with a smaller screen.

If released, most analysts expect it would cost $299 for a 16GB Wi-Fi-only model – only $100 more than the Kindle Fire. To measure consumer interest in such a device, we presented respondents with a likely description of the iPad Mini and asked:

Some analysts think Apple may release a smaller 7-inch version of the iPad this fall. This new "iPad Mini" would likely have the same features of the current iPad (i.e., A5X processor, Retina display, 5MP camera) but with a smaller screen. The “iPad Mini” is expected to cost $299 for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model.

How likely is it that you will buy an Apple "iPad Mini" for yourself or someone else (e.g., a family member) if-and-when it becomes available?

A total of 3% of consumers say they're Very Likely and 14% Somewhat Likely to buy an iPad-Mini if-and-when it were to become available – highly encouraging numbers for Apple and a further worrisome finding for the other manufacturers.

"At the moment, the greatest competitive threat to the new iPad could well be the iPad Mini – which doesn’t exist yet, but even if it ever does, it too will be made by Apple,” says Dr. Paul Carton, ChangeWave’s Vice President of Research. “When it comes to tablets, the ChangeWave survey shows Apple continuing to exert near total control over the market.”

The complete ChangeWave report is available here.

About ChangeWave Research
ChangeWave Research, a service of 451 Research, is a survey research firm that identifies and quantifies change in consumer spending & electronics trends, telecom trends, and corporate buying & business trends. This is accomplished through a weekly series of large sample surveys to its network of 25,000 accredited business and technology professionals, and early-adopter consumers, working in more than 20 industries. To learn more visit www.changewaveresearch.com.

About 451 Research
451 Research, a division of The 451 Group, is a leading global analyst and data company focused on the business of enterprise IT innovation. Clients of 451 Research – at end-user, service-provider, vendor, and investor organizations – rely on 451 Research's insight through a range of syndicated research and advisory services to support both strategic and tactical decision-making. For additional information on 451 Research, go to: 451research.com.