It's iPad or nothing, survey says

A startling 94.5 percent of potential tablet buyers asked say they'd be inclined to buy an iPad, which doesn't bode well for everyone else.

The tablet market continues to be summed up like this: the iPad and everything else. And everything else doesn't amount to much.

That's according to a recent survey conducted by Robert W. Baird. The study found that out of more than 1,100 potential tablet purchasers, an overwhelming 94.5 percent cited the iPad as a device of interest. Hewlett-Packard's TouchPad was the second most-cited device, garnering just 10.3 percent of the people surveyed, while Research in Motion's PlayBook was a laggard.

The study suggests that despite a number of new entrants jumping into the tablet fray, few have made a dent in either market share or consumer awareness. That doesn't bode well for the wave of consumer electronic and handset manufacturers who spent have millions of dollars on research and development, marketing, and in HP's case, a multibillion-dollar acquisition, all in the search for a new source of growth.

Analyst William Power said the response to the TouchPad was "somewhat surprising." HP recently cut the price of the device by $100, and AllThingsD reported that retailer Best Buy is sitting on a large stockpile of untouched TouchPads. HP is set to report its third-quarter results tomorrow, likely providing some additional details on the tablet's performance.

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On the flip side of the iPad, only 3.8 percent of people surveyed cited the PlayBook as a device of interest.

"Consistent with recent checks, our survey found minimal interest in RIM's PlayBook tablet," Power said.

The tablet stumbled out of the gate, missing key features such as e-mail and calendar access without the aid of a separate BlackBerry. While CNET gave it a decent review, the device faced harsh criticism for the lack of those key features, as well as a continued weak stable of applications.

The PlayBook was just below the HTC Flyer, a standalone tablet sold without carrier support (a Sprint version is sold as the Evo View) and above Barnes & Noble's Nook Color e-reader.

At No. 3 was the Motorola Xoom. The Xoom got a major push early in the year as the first device running a version of Android specifically designed for tablets. But it didn't fare well against the iPad on price, and didn't see much adoption until after a price cut.

Motorola Chief Executive Sanjay Jha told CNET recently that the Xoom has been "a mixed story" for the company, with margins on the product lower because of the price cuts. He said the sell-through, or rate that a product gets snapped up by the consumer, was good following the cut.

The Xoom was neck and neck with Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Tab 10.1. Samsung's tablet has been seen as one of the closer competitors to the iPad, with its similar size and thinner design. Apple and Samsung are embroiled in multiple lawsuits around the world regarding the similarities of the iPad and the Galaxy Tab, resulting in the temporary ban on sales of the Galaxy Tab in some regions.

Samsung was also the first to launch a 4G LTE tablet with Verizon Wireless with its 4G-enabled Galaxy Tab, something the company believes has fueled momentum in the product.

A great majority of the people asked were in the U.S., with a large segment coming from the central region of the country, with smaller chunks in the west and south. The survey skewed more male, and asked more affluent individuals who were more likely to pick up a high-end device.

With the iPad so dominant, other tablets aren't the only products feeling the heat. The survey found that 53 percent of the people would have bought a new PC if the tablet wasn't an option.

"We found that tablets appear to be taking incremental dollars away from PCs, with Apple the dominant beneficiary," Power said.

Updated at 8:20 a.m. PT: to include results and background regarding Samsung, as well additional details about the survey.

 

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