Monday, March 15, 2010

Survey: EReaders In The Wake of iPad

So what is the consumer reaction to constant change? How do they feel being at the bleeding edge of technology, where last week’s announcement is superseded by this week’s launch?

We have seen an explosion of eInk ‘lookie likies’ in the past 18 months. Such was the level of new devices that we even stopped reporting on them. Some manufacturers have not only upgraded their offer but have multiple offers running in parallel in the same market. We seen resellers flip suppliers like changing socks. In these dynamic and chaotic times consumers usually seek sanity and to narrow the range. The fittest doesn’t always win, nor does the biggest marketing spend and sometimes it can be down to being on the right shelf at the right time.

Now a survey of 3,171 consumers by ChangeWave which was conducted after the Apple iPad announcement, not only shows the iPad demand, but also the potential consumer backlash to uncertainty and constant change. Some may say that they yearn for a safe pair of hands and consistency of offer.

The interesting insights came in looking at the responses of consumers who already own an eBook Reader. Some 68% had a Amazon Kindle with only some 10% having a Sony Reader

When asked if the iPad had been available would they have still bought their current reader, some 45% of eBook Reader owners responded said yes. However just over one in four 4 (27%) said they would have bought the iPad and around the same number (30%) were undecided. Some would say that this shows either a high dissatisfaction level with the current reader and even potentially a high dissatisfaction with their return on investment.

When asked about their planned eBook Reader purchases over the next 90 days the survey shows the Apple iPad is now poised to capture an astonishing 40% of the e-Reader market.

The Kindle still holds a reasonable position but if these figures were reproduced in the market serious questions would be asked of Sony’s staying power at 1% and the wisdom of geographically restricted branded offers from Barnes and Noble and its Nook.

The survey also suggests that consumers are likely to be buying the iPad over a period and not simply rushing out to buy on the first day. This may give some comfort for the rest but given that there is likely to be a strong second wave of tablets from HP,Dell and Google has to play its card we think this is the best they are going to get.

The clear message came in the preference of features offered by the iPad. Single device ereaders must look hard and realise that they just aren’t what is required and although they offer eInk clarity OLED and technology is going to negate monochrome. Consumers want what we have all said – a multi media device linked to the Internet. Over two in three (68%) want to surfing the Internet and that itself should make Mr Jobs even more anti Flash as it poses its biggest threat and opportunity to the other tablets. The tablet obviously must be a social device with email at 44%. But the really interesting demands where in reading with eBooks (37%) scoring over magazines, newspapers and periodicals (28%), and surprisingly video (24%).

To read the report: A ChangeWave survey of new iPad owners is set for early spring.

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