Two thirds of people who are thinking of buying an iPad in the next 12 months are expecting to pay less than the current lowest retail price, according to the latest research
from our Tablet and Touchscreen Strategies service. 66% say they will pay less than $500 or €500, and half of those say they want to pay less than $300 or €300. We surveyed nearly 5000 consumers across the US and 4 major European markets.
These findings won't concern Apple too much as there is enough momentum from early adopters to support growing iPad sales for the next few months. But they should serve as a clear warning that today's price points are unsustainable in the longer term.
Already we are seeing a proliferation of (mostly Android-based) tablets arriving on retailers' shelves, often at iPad-undercutting prices. Staples is offering a 10" Viewsonic, Android 2.2 device
at $400. I am awaiting delivery of a £150 7" Android 2.2 tablet from UK electronics specialist retailer Maplin.
Clearly these devices will not match Apple in every respect; many observers doubt whether the latest versions of Google's OS are up to the job. But then the question is what "job" tablets are expected to carry out. iPad behaviour so far has been truly multifunctional, with a mix of games, browsing, video, communications, and the huge variety of apps which are impossible to categorise.
I overheard one potential tablet buyer in Staples inquiring (of the Viewsonic device) whether it was good for reading books, and specifically whether it could do "things like Kindle". Unfortunately she happened to address the question'to a sales assistant who claimed to be "still training" on these devices and so couldn't commit to an answer. But the fact that customers are inquiring about specific capabilities suggests that all-round superiority may not necessarily be a requirement for tablet market entrants hoping to eat into Apple's dominant market position.
That's not to say that device implementations shouldn't pass the bare minimum of usability requirements. There are still too many early Android devices floating around which really are not fit for purpose, even if they are practically being given away. Consumers want to pay $300 or $400 but they expect something that does at least a few things reasonably well. The sooner Android matures and its partners introduce devices to undercut the iPad, the better for the tablet market as a whole.
Client Reading: Apple's iPad: Users, Buying Intentions and Price Expectations