A new research report shows that more than a quarter of all iPad owners say the iPad is their first Apple product. According to NPD’s “Apple Ecosystem Study,” iPad sales are accelerating and attracting technology buyers that passed on the iPhone, iPod and Mac.
After just over two years on the market, the iPad will soon surpass the iPod as most users’ first Apple device.
“iPad sales are growing much faster than any other Apple product has this soon after launch,” said NPD’s Ben Arnold. “In fact, one-in-five Apple owner households has one— nearly equivalent to the number that own an Apple computer. This demonstrates the appeal of both the new form factor and Apple’s app ecosystem.”
Apple’s own numbers back up NPD’s findings. The electronics market may appear saturated with Apple products, but people are buying more Apple products than ever. The company boosted sales by nearly 40% in the first three months of 2012 compared to a year ago.
“It took us 24 years to sell that many Macs, 5 years to sell that many iPods, and 3 years to sell that many iPhones. iPad is a profound product and the breadth of it is incredible,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook on the company’s most recent earnings call. “It took us 24 years to sell that many Macs, 5 years to sell that many iPods, and 3 years to sell that many iPhones. iPad is a profound product and the breadth of it is incredible.”
It’s easy to understand why the iPad draws new customers to Apple. For $500 (or $400 for an iPad 2) anybody can get a device that will let them watch use the web, buy music, watch movies, and play games. That’s half the price of Apple’s cheapest MacBook Air. Unlike the iPhone, the iPad doesn’t require an expensive wireless contract at the time of purchase. For many users an iPad is easier to use than a notebook computer, especially for those with basic computing needs and those who have never owned a computer before, such as children and seniors. With that in mind, it’s easy to imagine the iPad surpassing the iPod as the first Apple device of many people relatively soon.
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NPD estimates that 37 million U.S. households own at least one Apple product. The average Apple household owns 2.4 Apple products, with an iPod in 69% of those homes.
Apple households do not necessarily discriminate against non-Apple products. According to the study, 58% of Mac households own at least one Windows PC, while 30% own at least one non-Apple smartphone.
“Apple’s OS X, iOS, and App Store are platforms specially tailored for their products,” Arnold said. “Should more households become multiple Apple product homes, these platforms will become even more important in the acquisition and sharing of content between devices. “Forty percent of electronics shoppers say owning devices in the same brand family is an important purchase factor. As consumers look for greater interoperability between devices and more brands become aligned with platforms, we could see fewer multi-brand ecosystems in the household.”
The iPad may be the gateway product that helps push Apple’s market valuation to more than $1 Trillion within the next 12 months, as one analyst predicts. Those with positive iOS experiences are more likely to purchase more expensive products such as the rumored iPhone 5 and MacBooks.