Opinion

Column: Would you rather have world peace, or an iPad 2?

In the first of a new series of columns for MicroScope.co.uk, Billy MacInnes tries to make sense of a glut of surveys on the tablet market. 

The onward march of the tablet is reflected in the most recent figures from research firm Context which show it accounted for 12.2% of total revenues for European tech distributors in October.

Well, tablet is a bit of an imprecise term because when Context says "tablet" it really means iPad. Sales of iPads in the third quarter were up 21.5% to 569,000 units, compared to 38,000 for Samsung and 34,000 for Asus.

Context CEO Jeremy Davies said Apple's iPad had been "a significant contributor to the growth in distributor tablet revenues", adding that it continued "to make inroads into Europe's business channels with Q3 2011 seeing a significant year on year uptake in adoption by both small and medium-sized businesses, as well as large enterprises."

Quite how well the tablet/iPad category is doing in distribution is demonstrated by the fact it now places third in terms of sales, behind desktops on 18.5% but ahead of servers on 6.6%. Top of the heap by quite some way is notebooks on 61.2%.

The evidence of growing adoption of the iPad in business is intriguing coming, as it does, only a day after a survey for MyVoucherCodes.co.uk. which revealed that a quarter of consumers used their iPads only once a week, 46% thought they hadn't got their money's worth from their iPads and 18% were trying to sell them.

Mind you, that appears to conflict with a survey a couple of weeks ago into what people would get if they could have one wish granted, which found that apart from £1m, most people would like to have an iPad 2, ahead of world peace, being famous, having cosmetic surgery or owning a sports car.

Then there's the small matter of Amazon's Kindle Fire which, apparently, is making people think again about buying an iPad in the US. An online Retrevo survey found 44% of Americans would consider the ($199) Kindle Fire compared to 12% for the ($499) iPad2 although the proof will be in the eating when the 7in Amazon tablet officially launches on 15 November.

Of course, the question is whether those 44% would have bought an iPad in the first place or whether they are part of a group that has been waiting for a lower-priced alternative to come along.

It will be interesting to speculate if, in 12 months time, people would wish they could have a Kindle Fire above world peace (and an iPad 2 for that matter).

My suspicion is that at that price, most people would be inclined to opt for world peace, an iPad 2, being famous, having cosmetic surgery or owning a sports car rather than a $199 device.

This was first published in November 2011

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