Apple’s iPad will cannibalise current e-reader market

8 Mar 2010

There is strong evidence of pre-launch demand for the Apple iPad greater than that for the iPhone. According to a survey, Amazon and its Kindle e-reader are poised to take a big hit when the new device enters stores on 3 April.

A ChangeWave survey of 3,171 consumers – conducted in the aftermath of that Apple announcement shows a huge wave of pre-launch demand for the iPad and offers key evidence that the Apple tablet will have a major impact on the e-reader, laptop and home-entertainment markets.

Moreover, the survey shows Amazon and its e-reader competitors are poised to take a big hit early on from the iPad’s entry into their market.

Consumer respondents were presented a brief description of key features of the new Apple iPad tablet and then asked how likely they were to buy one when it becomes available.

A total of 4pc said they are very likely to buy the Apple iPad and 9pc said somewhat likely.

Importantly, the percentage saying very likely is the same as in a January ChangeWave survey prior to Apple’s actual announcement. And although the percentage saying somewhat likely has declined since the previous survey (from 14pc to 9pc currently) that’s likely due to the fact that the current survey is the first in which the exact nature of the device is known.

In other words, back in January when virtually no one was yet certain the device was actually real, there were some consumers who thought they might purchase it who subsequently lost interest when the iPad’s exact specifications became known.

But this is to be expected – and the percentages who do want to purchase the iPad in the latest survey remain extremely high and represent a tremendous pre-launch demand for the new product.

Effectively the current pre-launch demand for the new iPad is greater than the pre-launch demand at a similar point in time for the original iPhone, ChangeWave said.

iPad V iPhone



While a handful of e-reader manufacturers – most prominently Amazon – clearly have a major head start, the survey findings show the iPad is poised to profoundly shake up this market.

Among consumers who already own an e-book reader, the Amazon Kindle (68pc) towers over its closest rival, the Sony Reader (10pc). But to gauge the potential impact of the iPad on this market, ChangeWave asked e-book reader owners whether they would have purchased their current e-reader if the Apple iPad had also been available.

While nearly half (45pc) of current e-book Reader owners say they would have still bought their same device, better than one in four (27pc) report they’d have bought the Apple iPad if it had been available at the time of purchase.

The survey shows the Apple iPad is now poised to capture an astonishing 40pc of the e-reader market going forward in the first 90 days after its launch.

The Amazon Kindle ranks second in terms of future purchase share with 28pc. Barnes and Noble Nook (6pc) and Sony Reader (1pc) are far back in third and fourth place respectively.

In short, while the iPad launch is likely to strengthen overall e-reader demand, the survey suggests Amazon and its competitors could well find themselves relegated to playing catch up within just a few quarters if they don’t pre-emptively move quickly to upgrade their own e-readers, ChangeWave warns.

In a further warning sign, the survey shows the wave of Apple iPad demand is likely to continue strengthening throughout the first six months after its release.

Pre-launch demand for iPad

More than two-thirds (68pc) of survey respondents say they’re most interested in using the iPad for surfing the internet.

Checking email (44pc), reading e-books (37pc), reading magazines, newspapers and periodicals (28pc), and watching video (24pc) are additional key ways that consumers are most interested in using the iPad.

Apple not fully ripe

There is at least one potential downside for Apple to its upcoming iPad launch.

One in four planned iPad buyers say they’ve put one or more of Apple’s other products on hold because they plan on getting an iPad – a clear signal Apple will experience at least some loss of sales among its other product lines due to the iPad launch.

Nonetheless, when you consider the huge wave of pre-launch demand for the new tablet, the cannibalisation concern appears to be a minor and quite manageable issue for Apple.

Of course, Apple’s success with the iPad is ultimately dependent on the device being able to turn on and perform up to the expectations of its new owners. Based on Apple’s past history, many, if not most buyers are expecting it to successfully mass produce and deliver the tablet of their dreams.

By John Kennedy

Photo at top: The Apple iPad, out on 3 April

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