A January ChangeWave survey of consumer PC buying trends shows the ‘iSlate’ – Apple’s highly rumored but yet to be announced Tablet Mac – is causing a major wave of demand among consumers, with repercussions that are already affecting the PC industry and related markets.

The survey also shows a surge in computer purchases over the past 90 days a total of 15% of the 3,314 respondents in our January survey bought a laptop in the past 90 days and 8% a desktop – the highest combined level of the past two years.

But going forward, the rumored upcoming launch of an Apple ‘iSlate’ Tablet is already having a powerful impact on PC demand.

To gauge the potential for the Apple Tablet Mac, ChangeWave asked respondents how likely it is they’ll buy an ‘iSlate’ if-and-when it becomes available.

The survey results show strong consumer interest – with 4% of respondents saying they are Very Likely and 14% Somewhat Likely to buy one for themselves or someone else.

How does this level of interest stack up against previous Apple product transformations that were launched after a prolonged and powerful media buzz?

While there are no exact comparisons, one way to gauge the level of interest in a Tablet Mac is to compare it to the reaction in 2005 when Apple announced it would begin producing its Macs using the Intel chip.

An August 2005 ChangeWave survey asked consumers if Apple’s switch to the Intel chip made them more likely to buy an Apple computer in the future, less likely, or would it have no effect?

The results were strikingly similar to our current findings for the ‘iSlate’. Here is a comparison of the pre-launch demand findings for each:

In the current survey, the exact same percentages say they’re likely to buy the Apple ‘iSlate’ as ChangeWave found when we surveyed consumer reaction to Apple’s switch to the Intel chip back in 2005.

Bottom Line. Apple’s switch to the Intel chip widely broadened the Mac’s appeal to consumers and proved to be one of the great moves in Apple history. Five years later, another ChangeWave survey shows similarly high levels of pre-launch excitement for the Mac Tablet.

While this, in and of itself, doesn’t guarantee success – and the product has yet to prove it’ll live up to high consumer expectations – it does show the enormity of the Mac Tablet’s potential to alter the dynamics of the PC market and related markets (e.g., e-reader/ e-book market). But the real impact won’t be fully determined until consumers get to see it, feel it, test it and decide if the ‘iSlate’ is all it’s chalked up to be.

In short, while historically Apple products have had an enviable track record in terms of exceeding consumer expectations, until consumers get their hands on the ‘iSlate’ – in spite of the powerful pre-launch demand – it’s important to remember the product doesn’t officially exist yet.

Regardless, the unrelenting media frenzy has jolted the ‘iSlate’ into the spotlight, and it is already having an impact on PC demand trends and related markets.

Source: ChangeWave Research