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Survey finds half of line-waiting iPad buyers are first-time owners

Investment firm UBS surveys a sampling of iPad buyers waiting in line on Friday and finds 46 percent are new to Apple's tablet, and most buyers went for the 16GB Wi-Fi only model.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

The new iPad is attracting more new buyers than owners of the original iPad, at least according to a small survey by investment firm UBS.

A full 46 percent of New York City customers waiting in line for the new iPad last Friday were first timers for Apple's popular tablet. Polling a total of 165 eager buyers on launch day, UBS also found that 38 percent were upgrading from the original iPad. The company didn't specify the responses for the remaining 16 percent of those surveyed.

The survey also found that the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model proved the most appealing.

Almost half (45 percent) said they were eyeing a 16GB edition, while 54 percent were looking for a Wi-Fi-only version. Consumers who already own a smartphone with a data plan are likely hesitant to opt for yet another device that brings with it a monthly charge. UBS believes more users might opt for 3G/4G tablets when U.S. carriers start switching to shared data plans or account-based billing.

Apple's flagship stores in NYC drew huge lines of iPad buyers, according to UBS. Most (78 percent) of the customers polled hadn't attempted to order online before showing up at their local Apple store. The current wait time for online orders is estimated at two to three weeks.

UBS's Friday forecast called for Apple stores to sell out of the new iPad over the weekend. Some initial reports on Saturday said that stores still had a healthy number of tablets in stock. Apple has yet to reveal actual initial sales figures for the new iPad but said today that it saw a "record weekend."

The investment firm is sticking with its current estimate of 12 million iPads sold during 2012's first quarter, which ends next week. But that number could be higher if Apple can supply enough tablets to the marketplace. Based on projected earnings, UBS recently upped its target for Apple stock to $675 from $550. As of this morning, shares are hovering around the $593 mark.

Apple today announced that it would start paying a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, which begins July 1. The company also plans to use $10 billion of its huge war chest to buy back its own shares starting in September.

But ultimately it's the next generation iPhone that has UBS buzzing.

"We expect Apple to launch its redesigned iPhone 5 in October and expect the company to accelerate the number of initial carriers it sells into to drive its biggest launch ever," wrote UBS analyst Maynard Um in the report. "Although supply chain constraints are difficult to assess at this point, we expect Apple to be prepared for a big launch. While the iPad 3 reception and dividend are important, we believe the iPhone 5 will trump both as a catalyst."