Survey paints bleak future for iPad rivals

A Changewave survey finds four out of five potential tablet buyers plan to get Apple iPad

With the launch of the Motorola Xoom, and impending arrival of the BlackBerry PlayBook, HP TouchPad, and a plethora of other tablets, the competition is mounting for the Apple iPad. However, a survey from ChangeWave finds that the dominance of Apple's iPad is assured for the foreseeable future.

ChangWave conducted a study to find out which tablet potential customers plan to buy. Four out of five respondents named the Apple iPad. The remaining 18 per cent of the responses were divided between the Motorola Xoom (four per cent), BlackBerry PlayBook (three per cent), and Samsung Galaxy Tab (three per cent), with eight per cent going to a group simply called "Other".

ChangeWave also asked current iPad owners about their experience with the Apple tablet. 95 per cent of iPad owners are satisfied, with an overwhelming 70 per cent weighing in as "Very Satisfied". Having a one year head start on the competition, combined with exceptional customer satisfaction, is a daunting challenge for rivals to overcome.

There is one other interesting tidbit in the ChangeWave data .ChangeWave asked respondents whether they had canceled or postponed the purchase of other technologies in order to purchase a tablet instead. A growing percentage of those surveyed are holding off or canceling purchases of Kindles (17 per cent), netbooks (10 per cent), and notebooks (11 per cent)and investing instead in a tablet.

To be fair, the ChangeWave survey of 3,000 plus potential tablet buyers was conducted in February. That was before the Motorola Xoom was even available and the original iPad was still the only game in town other than the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Of course, it was also before Apple unveiled details of its iPad 2, which shifts the momentum back in Apple's favor before most of its rivals are even on the shelf.

The good news rival tablets is that the tablet market is a pie that is still growing. It's not like the tablet market is saturated and the various parties are all competing for some percentage of the customers. The tablet market is still nascent and growing, so there is room for all of the tablets to have a relative degree of success.

If the numbers hold true, though, it will be very difficult for any gadget to compete with the iPad. There will eventually come a time when the market is saturated, and the competing tablets are fighting to steal customers from one another, and Apple will have a distinct advantage in that fight by starting off with market share 20 times greater than its nearest competitor.

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Tony Bradley

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