Retrevo survey shows likely iPad buyers tripled after Jobs’ unveiling [UPDATED]

A follow-up study from Retrevo, an online electronics marketplace, looks at Retrevo users’ interest in buying the new Apple iPad. Retrevo conducted two surveys, one before the iPad unveiling (Jan. 16-Jan. 20) and one after (Jan. 27 – Feb. 3).

The study indicates good news for Apple, with respondents who replied “Yes, I think I would like to buy one” tripling from 3% to 9%. And, this is two months before the device ships, before any real reviews have been conducted and published, and before people begin to see what iPads can do in Apple Retail Stores and, most-importantly, in the hands of their friends, family, and co-workers.

Respondents who were asked if they’ve heard of rumors about or, post-unveiling, the “new Apple tablet” [iPad], declined from 35% prior to Apple’s iPad event to 18% after. These people were “not interested in buying one.”

The number of respondents who said they were “interested, but need more information” held steady, rising only slightly from 19% before to 21% after seeing iPad onstage, in videos, and via Apple’s website. Those inclined to by an iPad (“Yes, I think I would like to buy one” and “Yes, I’m interested, but will wait and see what it looks like”) rose from 22% before the iPad was unveiled to 30% after.

“Yes, definitely” responses to a different question that was also asked before and after the announcement, “From what you’ve heard about the tablet, do you think you need one?” nearly doubled from 3% to 5%. “Maybe” moved up slightly from 18% to 19% of respondents.

Again, these results are two months before iPad begins shipping, before any real reviews have been conducted and published, and before people begin to see what iPads can do in Apple Retail Stores and, most-importantly, in the hands of their friends, family, and co-workers.

Read Retrevo’s blog post for a quick lesson on how surveys, the wording of the questions asked and the multiple choice responses offered, and the interpretations of results can be pretty much whatever the pollster/interpreter desires here.

Erik Sherman writes for BNET, “One problem is that because the survey respondents were all users of the Retrevo site, at best the survey would only predict how the group of all Retrevo users might react. However, it likely isn’t even that meaningful. One of the factors that is important in survey work is the percentage of people approached to take the survey that actually do. If the percentage is low, then you’re getting less of a random sample, which is critical to statistical analysis, and more of a self-selecting group. The methodology description doesn’t even mention this number. In addition, ‘most’ questions had a 4 percent confidence interval at a 95 percent confidence level. Which ones? How about the ones they mentioned? Why not say what the confidence interval and level of those were?”

Sherman writes, “Even if the sampling was meaningful, Retrevo focused on a negative interpretation that would likely give it the most play in the press. One number it didn’t emphasize was that the percentage of people who said that they wanted to buy an iPad went from 3 percent before the announcement to 9 percent after. Given the anticipation and the fact that those who wanted to buy were probably the Apple loyalists, this would suggest an extensive expansion of potential customers. Apple has made a strong business out of the core alone, so if anything, you might equally point to this study as suggesting that the iPad would be a hit. That is, if the study were something you could take with a grain of mathematical seriousness, which it doesn’t appear to be.”

Full article here.

[UPDATE: 1:40pm ET: Added excerpts from and link to Sherman’s BNET article.]

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Robert S.” for the heads up.]


  1. Wired’s Brian X. Chen just tweeted, “This iPad survey is bogus. Sample set is two different groups of 1,000 people?”

    I agree. The methodology used in the survey is terrible. The sample size and composition is too small to provide any means for accuracy. But that did not stop click whore David Coursey of PC World from publishing this POS: “iPad Study: The More You Know, The Less You Want One.”

    What a prick. I might suggest that you not even click on the link. I guess he’s been grabbing his ankles for Steve Ballmer again…

  2. While the survey interpretation by Retro is mostly anti-Apple BS, the survey design is NOT flawed. You do NOT need to poll the SAME people, because they are supposed to be representative of the general population. Also, 1000 respondents is NOT too few. Respected, credible surveys have as few as 500. The problem with this survey is the negative spin. The proportion that are generally inclined to purchase an iPad went up from 22% before the even to 30% afterwards, which is pretty good.

  3. I would like to buy one, but not right now. I’ve got my eye on a 27″ iMac!
    I believe once a couple of generations have been out there and the technology has matured more that business, IT, education and other sectors will flock to this groundbreaking device.
    It will be comical to see the “iPad Killers” that will march to market one by one only to fail.
    I’ve been using using Apple products since 1979 and believe me when I say that nothing beats them.

  4. Wow. I’m pressed!
    A survey based on 2 entirely different fantasy surveys!

    Statistics based on a survey about a mythical product vs. a survey about a product that has been announced, but won’t ship for 2 months.

    What WILL they think of next?

  5. Original Jake is absolutely correct. The methodology is NOT flawed. You don’t need to poll the entire world to determine a trend.

    By the way, AppleInsider reports the same story with this way:
    “Consumers lose interest in iPad after Apple’s unveiling – survey”

    So, you see that the methodology means nothing, because, apparently, you can draw any conclusion you want.

  6. Just your headline gives a whole new twist to these useless surveys of a nobibly skewed population sample. Elsewhere the same info is headlined ; Survey: Consumers lose interest in iPad, Apple Insider reports. Reader beware!!
    That’s why our school teaches students ctitical thinking as specified as part of its mission statement.

  7. Thanks so much for the really intelligent article. So many just regurgitate the Retrevo posting.

    Just one question, in comments on several other stories repeating the retrevo line, I specifically suggested that the headline should be almost exactly what you have used. Did you by any chance read my postings first?

  8. “Original Jake is absolutely correct. The methodology is NOT flawed. You don’t need to poll the entire world to determine a trend.”

    This is half true. You do not need to pool the same people. But the methodology is totally flawed. You need RANDOM samples, and for such a small sample, preferably a stratified random sample. Polling visitors to a web-site is NOt random by definition – they are visitors to a web-site!

    This is probably the dumbest use of statistics that I have ever seen.

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