Revolutionary or Evolutionary? The Results from Xconomy’s iPad Survey
More newsprint and pixels have been sacrificed to iPad punditry than to any other tech subject in recent memory. I’m responsible for a good deal of the carnage myself (here, here, here, and here). With the device finally hitting stores tomorrow, though, there was no way my column today would be about anything else. The difference this time is that I’m going to highlight the voices of Xconomy readers, rather than my own idisosyncratic opinions or those of my fellow journalists and bloggers. (If you’re dying to see some early iPad reviews, though, you can’t go wrong reading Walt Mossberg, David Pogue, or Ed Baig.)
Earlier this week I posted an online survey asking you, loyal readers, nine questions, ranging from the simple and factual—for example, whether and when you’re planning to get an iPad—to the ideological (what do you think of Apple’s culture of secrecy and control, and how does it influence your behavior as a buyer of Apple products?). A boatload of you responded, and your answers were fascinating and, in some cases, unexpected. The full results are reproduced here. I’m especially grateful to those of you who went beyond the multiple-choice questions and shared your write-in comments; I’ve included the most interesting ones on these pages.
If I had to sum up the attitude captured by the survey in a phrase, it would be “cautiously welcoming.” Overall, a hefty 56 percent of you said that you’re planning to get an iPad at some point, whether that means this weekend or at some point in the future. But you’d like to spend as little as possible—the cheapest version, the 16-GB Wi-Fi model for $499, turns out to be the most popular. And you’re not quite sure whether the device is going to be as groundbreaking as Apple claims. About 46 percent of you called the iPad “evolutionary” while only 35 percent said it was “revolutionary.” (To be fair to Apple, technologies that turn out to be genuinely transformative, such as the Internet, aren’t usually seen as breakthroughs when they first emerge, as my colleague Greg Huang observed this week.)
At the same time, a vehement 25 percent of you said you’d never buy an iPad. And from the comments, it was clear that Apple has a ways to go to convince some critics that the device isn’t just an oversized, overpriced iPod Touch with more “cool factor” than true utility. “I’ve never owned a Mac and have no desire for more over-hyped gadgetry,” one respondent wrote. “In my view Apple fans appear ready to buy anything and everything that Mr. Jobs cares to develop. What’s next, the iToilet?”
Interestingly, more than half of you felt—sight unseen—that the iPad will be a better e-book reader than Amazon Kindle and other devices that use electronic ink displays. Only a small minority predicted that the Kindle will remain the pre-eminent e-book device. Of course, the answers to this question (as with all the others) may have been skewed by a self-selection bias, as it’s possible that Apple fans were more likely to participate in the survey to begin with. Still, Amazon is probably smart to be working on a Kindle iPad app, so it can still sell e-books to people who prefer iPads.
The write-in answers to Question No. 9—”What impact will the iPad have on consumer expectations about personal computing?”—were the most numerous, extensive, and interesting, so I urge you to read all the way to the end. The answers that received the most votes are highlighted in bold. For the items with totals that exceed 100 percent, respondents were invited to pick as many answers as they liked.
Or jump to individual questions:
1. Are you planning to buy an iPad?
2. If you are planning to buy an iPad, which version do you prefer?
3. Which features of the iPad appeal to you most?
4. Which missing iPad features would you most like to see added in a future version?
5. Where do you see yourself using an iPad?
6. Will the iPad be a better e-book reading device than the Amazon Kindle and other electronic-ink-based reading devices?
7. Some observers condemn Apple for the restrictions and secrecy it imposes on third-party app developers. Do you generally agree with this critique?
8. Has your opinion about Apple’s culture of control influenced your decision about buying an iPad?
9. The big picture: What impact will the iPad have on consumer expecations about personal computing?