Steve Jobs’ departure from Apple CEO role hasn’t hurt sales

14 Sep 2011

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Any anxiety Apple may have had over its visionary leader Steve Jobs stepping down from the CEO role impacting on demand for its products must have been short lived. A new survey shows only 4pc of customers are less likely to buy Apple products in the future.

The 6-12 September 2011 survey of 2,297 consumers by ChangeWave shows only 4pc say Jobs’ resignation makes them less likely to buy Apple products in the future, while 89pc say it’s having no effect on their purchasing of Apple products.

When asked a similar question during Jobs’ first leave of absence back in 2008, nearly one in five respondents (18pc) said they would be less likely to buy Apple products if Jobs stepped down.

Since then, ChangeWave says it has asked this question on several occasions and over this time period the impact of Jobs stepping down has lessened in the minds of consumers.

The results suggest Jobs’ previous absences have had an ‘inoculating’ effect that over time has allayed consumer concerns on whether the company could operate at the same level without Jobs at the helm.

Two recent ChangeWave surveys on tablet demand provide additional evidence that Apple product demand has not been affected to date by the loss of Jobs.

iPad continues to dominate business tablet demand

An 10-29 August ChangeWave survey of 1,618 corporate IT buyers shows the Apple iPad remains the overwhelming choice for planned tablet purchasers.

Among companies planning to purchase tablets for their employees next quarter, 80pc say they’ll buy iPads – unchanged since the previous survey.

The survey results show no new major breakthroughs among Apple’s competitors in the corporate market. But with HP now exiting, Samsung (7pc; up 1-pt) shows the most promise.

The findings for Motorola (4pc; down 6-pts) and RIM (3pc; down 5-pts) are particularly disappointing – each having declined in terms of planned corporate tablet buying.

iPad dominates consumer tablet demand, as well

A second ChangeWave survey of 2,969 consumers during August also looked at tablet demand trends. And even as competitors flood the market with their own tablets, Apple continues to dominate, with 85pc of planned buyers saying they’ll get an iPad.

Samsung (4pc; up 2-pts) is now the next-closest competitor followed by the BlackBerry PlayBook (2pc; down 1-pt) and the Motorola Xoom (1pc; down 3-pts).

A key reason for the iPad lead is found in its customer satisfaction rating – 70pc of consumer iPad owners say they’re very satisfied with their tablet device. That dwarfs the very satisfied rating of all of the other manufacturers combined (42pc).

Is there an Amazon tablet waiting in the wings?

A competitive tablet device may be in the offing, with Amazon reportedly planning a new Android-based Kindle tablet for later this year.

To measure the potential impact of such a device – which is rumoured to include a 9-inch colour screen and web browser along with e-reader functionality – the survey asked respondents how likely they would be to purchase a Kindle tablet.

A total of 2pc said they’re very likely and 12pc somewhat likely to buy a Kindle tablet when it becomes available. Based on this, it’s clear that the consumer demand is there if Amazon can produce a competitive tablet device. Moreover, Amazon’s huge base of Kindle e-reader users gives it a considerable leg up for entering the tablet market.

In sum, ChangeWave says that while no other manufacturer has been able to challenge Apple’s stranglehold on the tablet market to date, the survey shows Amazon may have the consumer interest to succeed where others have failed – if they can build a competitive tablet product.

So far, that’s proven to be a big ‘if’ for the rest of the industry.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years