iPad Survey Results- FUD Appears

Yesterday a number of sites ran with the Retrevo survey results  (1000 person poll randomly selected) about level of interest in the iPad. There are clearly both some good and bad news in the numbers depending upon the spin that you want to use.

The survey numbers clearly indicate that overall Apple has a tough marketing/sales job on their hands, the iPad is not the obvious runaway homerun that was the iPhone.

From a negative standpoint, the population that indicates that they would not buy an iPad has increased dramatically from 26% to 52%. This led to the following conclusions stated in an article in PC World by Manish Ranthi of Retrevo that customers are not interested in the device for the following reasons; no multi-tasking, no Flash support, additional cost for 3g models. However, Ranthi in the article does not state the foundation for several of these conclusions. No survey information is presented indicating of the 52% who are not interested that 20% cited no Flash support as the reason. So instead of these being actual survey supported reasons, Ranthi seems to be simply parroting back various analysts and Bloggers criticisms of the device. He does cite actual survey data on the additional cost for the 3G version with strong resistance towards purchasing the 3G version. But, PC World throughout the article blends in Ranthi survey data with analyst opinions.

“In addition, Apple’s decision to add a $130 surcharge on 3G-capable iPads didn’t make many friends. According to Retrevo’s polling, 59% said they wouldn’t spring extra for 3G; only 12% said they would fork over the $130. Others have called the higher cost “ridiculous” because the necessary parts cost Apple less than $20.”

The “others” being a hardware analyst interviewed by PC World, not any of the customers surveyed. Back to the 3G data, this survey data is presented as some kind of negative for the device instead of simply providing ata on which version will be more popular. In addition, Ranthi indicates strong resistance against adding the service plan that makes the 3G worthwhile. It would be more interesting if Ranthi would have provided data on customers willing to spend money on the data plan who are turned off by the additional hardware charge for the 3G iPad. Indicating that folks who are not going to sign up for a data plan for cost reasons, are not going to buy extra money for hardware they won’t use  is not exactly groundbreaking.

Getting back to this dramatic increase in customers who won’t purchase the device, the best job in deconstructing this data was done by Kindle Week cited by Phillip DeWitt in Fortune

The Retrevo analysis is completely wrong,” writes someone called “switch11” in an entry posted Saturday. Switch11 has issues with the sample (two different groups of 1,000 each), the number of questions (5 in the first, 4 in the second) and the order in which they were asked. But the basic problem, he or she writes, is Retrevo’s interpretation.

“They should be looking at the last two questions together i.e. ‘No, and not interested’ and ‘Yes, and not interested’. That would show that the number has gone from 61% to 70%. Not as huge of a jump as only showing 26% to 52%. On the flip side the number of people likely to get an iPad jumped from 3% to 9%. That’s a huge jump.”

At this point, Mr. Ranthi and PCWorld are well on their way to winning the first weekly FUD award of the Week.

In addition, there’s also a significant 21% who are interested in the device, but need more information. Considering the fact no one has seen a device in a store, no technology magazine/website  has had a chance for an extended review, and Apple has not run a single commercial touting the features and useability of the iPad, a 21% uncertain population seems completely understandable.

The real survey that I would like to see, would track 1000 customers who have had a chance to see the device in a store. Just like Stephen Fry indicated, I strongly believe that the iPad needs to be held and used before customers get a full understanding of the device. I distinctly remember being on the fence about purchasing the first iPhone until I was able to use one at the Apple Store. It was user experience that ten minutes later had me handing over my credit card. A phone survey prior to this actual product launch is interesting directionally, but doesn’t seem to indicate whether the iPad will be a hit or not.

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