NPD claims Apple iPad not responsible for Windows PC laptop slump

The consumer PC market isn’t floundering because of the iPad, in fact, the rate of cannibalization is actually declining among more recent purchasers, according to leading market research company The NPD Group’s Apple iPad Owner Study II report.

According to the report only 14 percent of early iPad adopters (iPad owners of six months or more) abandoned a PC purchase for an iPad, and that dropped to just 12 percent of iPad owners who purchased over the past holiday season. In fact, cannibalization of netbooks is actually down by 50 percent among more recent iPad buyers, when compared to early adopter buyers.

MacDailyNews Take: So, how many iPad owners delayed a PC purchase, perhaps indefinitely? Hello?

“The explosion of computer sales when Windows 7 launched, as well as the huge increase in netbook sales at that time, are much more to blame for weak consumer PC sales growth than the iPad,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, in the press release. “Overall it appears that the vast majority of iPad purchases to-date have been incremental to the consumer technology industry.”

According to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service, the under $500 segment of the Windows consumer notebook market grew by 21 percent for the 6 months ending March 2011 to become the largest segment of the consumer notebook market.

“The conventional wisdom that says tablet sales are eating into low- priced notebooks is most assuredly incorrect,” continued Baker. “The over $500 Windows consumer notebooks market is where PC sales have been impacted the most, with a 25 percent decline from October 2010 to March 2011.”

It’s more than likely that iPad sales added billions of dollars to the industry’s coffers after years of ASP declines draining the market. According to the report, nearly 75 percent of consumers who bought an iPad for themselves said they had no intentions of buying anything else, making all of those iPad purchases incremental sales volume.

That additional volume has spurred the development of new accessories opportunities that also serve to direct more money into the retail market. Approximately 83 percent of iPad owners have purchased an accessory for their iPad, with cases being the most popular. The sales opportunities are being spread across all manufacturers and retailers, not just Apple. Approximately 50 percent of all cases are non-Apple branded, and according to the report about 50 percent of cases and more than 60 percent of screen protectors were purchased at a different store than where the consumer purchased their iPad.

While consumers looked far and away to find the right product to accessorize their iPad, the expansion of distribution in the fourth quarter for the device itself had little impact on sales shares. Best Buy and Apple sold 3/4 of all devices during the holiday period. Comparatively speaking the carrier stores had much weaker results, accounting for just 3 percent of sales. Clearly, consumers’ indifference to 3G connectivity was a driving factor as sales for the basic $499 WiFi only iPad increased by almost 33 percent during the holiday period to nearly one-in-three sales.

“Consumers just do not see the utility in 3G connectivity,” added Baker. “There’s an added expense for the device and for the service, something a majority of iPad owners aren’t willing to pay. Since most iPads rarely venture away from home the value of a 3G connection is likely to diminish, especially as other tablets enter the market and pricing starts to fall. When every penny counts, features that aren’t core to the user becoming increasingly marginalized as manufacturers fight for every sale.”

Source: NPD Group, Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: Okay, so, since netbooks are already dead — it’s easy to show growth in a category that’s been obliterated, especially in a persistently weak economy, as those who need (or think they need) a “laptop” may be skimping and getting a cheap netbook — iPad (and Apple’s MacBook liness, sales of which are also up) are now killing Windows laptops priced over $500. We see no evidence presented to refute that conclusion. Before iPad, people who would normally buy a cheap PC laptop to surf the Web and email didn’t have an option. Now they do – and millions of them are smartly taking that option and lining up to buy Apple iPads. NPD’s Stephen Baker’s conclusion is simply not supported by the evidence provided in NPD’s press release.


  1. My iPad has damn near replaced my mbp…
    Which 100% replaced two pc’s..

    So, my iPad has pretty much replaced two pc’s.
    I’m picking up the slack for those that their iPad has only replaced 1 winblows laptop 😉

  2. The only reason why Netbooks (pardon me…, netbooks) have not seen a steep drop is because the developing world is finally showing a substantial growth in PC sales through these $250 computing devices, which makes up for the dearth of sales in the developed world, caused by the appearance of the iPad.

    It would take a bit more digging to confirm and verify this assertion, but these analysts are obviously much happier with the lowest hanging fruit.

  3. My iPad has not replaced anything. There is simply no way to do the work I do on my dual quad core Xion Mac Pro on my iPad. But I still love it. My wife still prefers her Macbook to her iPad. She can print from the Mac, not so much from the iPad.

    1. I find it dubious that any one willing to pay >$1000/CPU wouldn’t know that the processor is named Xeon.
      Also, why can’t your wife print from her iPad?

      That aside, The MacPro is a workstation not a consumer PC, with up to 24 cores (including v-cores), an ultra high bandwidth backplane & copious storage & IO options it is made for heavy lifting. It is not (nor is it priced like) a “PC”. Saying that your new Mini Cooper S didn’t replace your tri-axle dump truck for hauling stone in your roadwork business, is at once true and also quite absurd.

  4. You could make the case that the meteor was not responsible for the death of the dinosaurs but if you look at the archeological evidence particularly at the K-T boundary layer you’ll find a super abundance of iridium which is matter only found in high concentrations in space objects.

    With the iPad the evidence is not so clear cut as there is noise in the data from the economic recession and curtailing of household income & spending. But the graphs point to a convergence between the introduction of the iPad and the decline in sales of netbooks to the extent that major PC manufacturers are scrambling to bring out tablet alternatives. That must tell you that iPads are eating into netbook sales. You only have to look at Microsoft’s latest quarterly report to see that sales of Windows licenses have fallen.

  5. “more than 75 percent of the people polled said they bought an iPad without any intention of buying anything else.”

    That is the very definition of cannibalization – netbooks aren’t even a consideration for many now.

    If my analytical skills were as poor as those of the so called ANALysts then I would be out of a job.

  6. “The consumer PC market isn’t floundering because of the iPad”

    It’s hard for me to take anyone seriously when they appear to be functionally illiterate and can’t perceive the difference between foundering (sinking) and a flounder (a flat fish that sits camouflaged on the seabed).

    1. Flounder could also mean thrash about wildly looking for a solution but I agree that founder (sinking without a trace) describes the present predicament of netbooks better.

    2. flounder 1 |ˈfloundər|
      verb [ intrans. ]
      struggle or stagger helplessly or clumsily in water or mud : he was floundering about in the shallow offshore waters.
      • figurative struggle mentally; show or feel great confusion : she floundered, not knowing quite what to say.
      • figurative be in serious difficulty : many firms are floundering.

  7. Someone really now needs to show some tangible evidence for this explosion of computer sales. It utterly defies reality. I don’t see Windows 7 in much use at all. I’m in a modern office with well over two thousand stations and less than 5% are running 7. There are no plans to upgrade in the pipeline. So where exactly are all these supposed 350 million licenses?

    1. Microsoft’s “sales” aren’t actual PC sales, they are sales of licenses to OEMs who may buy up millions at a time.

      If HP plans on selling 25 million PCs thus year, they’ll need to buy up Windows licenses for them. Microsoft sees the sales immediately, the rest of the market won’t see it until after the PC sells.

  8. > Since most iPads rarely venture away from home…
    I disagree w/ that. I actually take my iPad _more_ places than my MacBook Pro, because it is so thin and light. And in metropolitan areas, WiFi is so readily available as to make the need for 3G unnecessary. Lastly, I did buy my dad a 3G iPad for Xmas, and was surprised by how much slower the Internet was vs. WiFi, and how much more quickly 3G drained the battery.

    1. My iPad leaves home everyday, I use it in my work ….. And while it has not replaced any machines for me, what it has done is reduce wear and tear on my desktop and laptop and will slow down replacement cycle of both but most notably the laptop …..

      I will continue to by two new iPads every time they come out until my entire family, kids and grandkids have one and by then it will be time to replace the first two ….

  9. The PC is killing the PC market.

    I traveled for business last week (16 hour flight) and took my work laptop (PC) and my iPad. Its an IT “managed” PC with all the security bells and whistles. So much so it takes about 10 minutes before its ready to rock. Battery life is an excellent 2.5 hours and it cooks eggs. In the end, it turns out I was able to do 95% of my work using the iPad not to mention being able to Facetime with the family. How much use did the PC get, well I turned it on twice and never charged it.

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