Report: The iPad won't go mass market anytime soon

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As magical as Apple’s iPad may be, it’s unlikely to go mass market anytime soon. That’s according to research carried out in the UK, which concludes that consumers struggle to see how the device could fit into their lives.

Simpson Carpenter‘s qualitative research drew comments from participants such as: “It’s just a big iPod Touch … a big iPhone without the phone” and “everything it does I can do on my PC or my phone right now.”

All of the iPad’s perceived advantages were seen to be filling a niche or too use-case specific, such as reading eBooks, consuming content on the train, or making presentations. And while the majority of those interviewed thought the iPad had the wow factor, they couldn’t justify a purchase.

“It occupies too much territory already covered by smartphones, PCs, laptops and traditional media”, says the report, concluding that most consumers are unable “to find enough rational argument to justify taking the plunge.”

But over time that could change.

Part of the problem, the report notes, is that the amount of hype that the iPad garnered before and at launch doesn’t match up with expectations. Mainstream users were expecting a revolution when all they see is incremental change.

A second group, however, described as the “impulsive minority” say they don’t need it but simply have to have it. For them “it’s not about function, compatibility or improvement but about raw appeal, its sheer magic.”

The report quite rightly concedes that these early adopters may well show the way, and that over time the iPad could make more sense to mainstream users.

I’d also add that the price will come down too, inline with expectations and that the iPad will likely have a break-out moment or killer app, perhaps gaming, which has driven sales of the iPod touch. I also very much subscribe to Paul Carr’s analysis that the iPad isn’t competing against a single device but competing for our attention — it’s a jack of all trades when it comes to content consumption and this makes it a serious contender.

That said, the report signs off with the following verdict: “In our view the iPad will take longer to achieve the sales growth and wider market impact of the iPhone.”

  • Ben Werdmuller

    With the iPhone, smartphones already existed and users understood the paradigm. With the iPod, the Walkman had been around for a very long time, and users understood how they should be used.

    The iPad has a harder job: people like to compare with what they’ve already seen, so of course you get the “it’s a big iPhone!” comments. I think this sort of tablet computing will become very popular in the mass market once there are more of them in the wild – people need to see them work.

    As for me, oddly I want one as a portable word processor. I haven’t seen a better device for that sort of mundane but useful use case.

    • Martyn Walker

      Interesting comment, it demonstrates Apple do not innovate but rely on others to create a market for them. Perhaps iPad is their attempt at proving they can innovate too?

      If it wasn’t 35% more expensive in Europe I would probably get one too.

      • Martin Edic

        What an asinine comment- Apple doesn’t innovate? iPod, iPhone, iPad, that’s not innovation? Just who, exactly are they copying? And how are they doing?

        The researchers leave out a critical fact- when you build a completely new product that no one has had their hands on (in the UK), you have to factor in the word of mouth- here in the US, where it is selling faster than the iPhone, people are talking about it. And those talking about it are not early adopters, they are computer-phobic people who see it as a completely new way to get engaged. Or people like myself who think I can drop 3 pounds of hardware when traveling.

      • Martin Edic

        BTW, you spelled Martin wrong….

      • shen

        That’s right apple, stall it too much and you’ll caught yourself on the impending verizon-google tablet onslaught.

      • Martyn Walker

        I thought that might light a touch paper :-)

        I just thought it was an interesting comment, thats all. I suppose I shouldn’t have followed up with a “Typically British” moan that it costs more in Europe. Thats because I want one and cannot afford it.

        You spelt Eric wrong.

      • Dashiell Menard

        Unfortunately apple does not innovate. There were, in fact, other portable mp3 players before the iPod. Not as good, to be sure, but apple did not invent the category. The iPhone was just Symbian with a slightly nicer interface and a better touchscreen. And then they tried to make it seem “innovative” when they added 3G. The iPad may be innovative it that it came up with the “It’s a big phone” type of tablet, rather than copying the “It’s a small computer” type of tablet design Microsoft had pioneered in the early aughts. However, it doesn’t take the tablet market as far as it could have gone, and will undoubtedly be surpassed by competitors in the coming months.

      • Mike

        It’s not really correct to say it’s more expensive – it’s more that local taxes are included on the European web site.

        See for an explanation.

  • James Mcaan

    When it comes to the Verizon iPhone, there is no shortage of rumors. The latest rumor suggests that Apple and AT&T had a deal with the iPad 3G. AT&T offered cheap data plans for iPad 3G customers, in exchange for Apple renewing their contract for at least another year.

    I read this news at

  • Kate Hannon

    I think this is a remarkable piece of technology. In a week, it has revolutionized how I interact with technology. Then again, I’ve been a fan since the first Mac was introduced. I truly believe “word of mouth” will move this product mainstream. Only time will tell. P.S. Sent from my iPad. ;-)

    • Steve O'Hear

      I agree, word of mouth or being out in the wild will be key. I saw that with the iPod touch, never mind the iphone.

      P.S. Sent from my iPhone 4G ;)

      • Ngo. ;ok

        You’re an asshole.

  • Garion

    Take a new product which is first of its kind – any product, and ask people if they need it, and you’ll always get the same answer; “I don’t see any use for it”. Heck, I said the same think about mobile phones back in the day! “Why would I need a mobile phone? I can wait to make a phone call until I come home, and there’s always pay phones”.
    Today? I can’t imagine NOT having a mobile phone.

    People won’t see the need for an iPad until they’ve seen what they can be used for. It’s as simple as that. What people see now is “just a big iPhone”, or a netbook without a keyboard. That’s because they don’t realize that this is something completely new.

    I think it will take a few “killer applications” for the iPad before people start to see why it’s not just a big iPhone.

  • Chris Pattas

    An important point is being missed here. The iPad will be a success if a good notes app can be introduced which will make taking multimedia “notes” simple and it can synch as easily as email app. The iPhone is too small and laptops are too heavy.

    • Garion

      Ever heard about InstaPaper ?

    • Garion

      Good God! Went to Simpson Carpenters homepage. They have the audacity to sell their useless drivel under the meme “Simply Better Research” !

      Listen, Simpson Carpenter! Here’s a pop quiz question for you: Which kind of response do you think you would get, if you had asked people in Britain in 1910 if they saw the need for an automobile? How many people would have said that they needed a personal computer in 1980?
      How many people saw the need for a mobile phone in 1985? You get the picture now?

      “Simply better research” ? Yeah right!

      • Martin Edic

        Henry Ford famously said, if I asked people what they want they would say: ‘faster horses’.

    • Michael

      Or Evernote? I love the iPhone app version of it. The iPad version should be even better.

  • orange

    Does Simpson Carpenter get paid to do that sort of research?

  • Foobar

    Um, have they not seen the sales figures?!

    “One million iPads in 28 days—that’s less than half of the 74 days it took to achieve this milestone with iPhone”

  • moses

    Stupid Reseach…
    1M iPads a week already sold in the US…

    this research based on nothing…

    • Zara

      This research is probably why we in UK got the chumby 3 years later than the USA and at 3x the cost :-(

  • David1984

    iPad is more of a gimmick than a useful computer. The processor is underpowered and it will come down to its heels when you run high end applications on it

    • Mkay

      Lol. Who expects iPad to run high-end software? You actually made me laugh. I bought mine for portability. I have a full-size computers for heavy lifting (literally and figuratively).

      I see some of the dumbest complaints against iPad sometimes. Some posters say it’s a media consumption device, not a device for creation. Uh, duh. What do you think you’re doing when you read a book or news, watch a movie or play a video game? That’s always media consumption, and doing it on iPad doesn’t change that.

    • Kirk

      Wait… you mean I won’t be able to render video on my iPad? Well what’s the point then?

      • Mkay

        You won’t be able to render anything on “your” iPad unless you buy one. Sounds like you made a false leap with the video, so you weren’t going to buy. Shrug. Don’t buy.

        Whether or not people buy, they should be grateful that Apple blazed this trail. With the money iPad is generating, there will more competition. Great for all consumers.

        I’ve never bought an Apple computer before, but I have money to spend on tablets, and any company is welcome to compete for my money.

  • Fred Snodgrass

    Sweet. Sweeping generalizations based on qualitative research. Somebody needs to re-take their introductory Market Research course.

  • Tomt

    Shill, or just misinformed?
    Didn’t the UK just stop with pre-orders as it was full up? Guess we’ll know in a month, as to whether this report was full of it? Oh, wait – I think we already have a good idea on that one.

  • RattyUK

    The UK is not the best place to ask people about technology. Generally they are short sighted and really hate anything that wasn’t created in Britain. The real question one needs to ask is “Who funded this survey?” Pretty certain that it wasn’t Apple – their projections are already in and they are pretty happy with what they have I’m sure. It was probably funded by someone in competition with Apple and thus made to make them feel complacent and happy with their decision not to go with a tablet like device.

    Simon Carpenter’s site is full of UK irony such as a jpg with a skip intro hyperlink on it. Oh, how we laughed. Smarmy, cynical British not-invented-here snobbery.

    • Steve O'Hear

      What utter nonsense.

      • RattyUK

        defensive somewhat?

      • Steve Jobs

        And I have not even released the iPAD in the UK.

    • dude


  • appwrld

    I totally understand the dilemma. I think the future generation iPads as they towards the “real” tablet computing will easily find the mass market.

  • Garion

    Good God! Went to Simpson Carpenters homepage. They have the audacity to sell their useless drivel under the meme “Simply Better Research” !
    (sorry, misplaced this post which made it look like a reply to Chris Pattas, which it wasn’t)

    Listen, Simpson Carpenter! Here’s a pop quiz question for you: Which kind of response do you think you would get, if you had asked people in Britain in 1910 if they saw the need for an automobile? How many people would have said that they needed a personal computer in 1980?
    How many people saw the need for a mobile phone in 1985? You get the picture now?

    “Simply better research” ? Yeah right!

  • Foobar

    Simpson Carpenter’s website was coded in Frontpage.

    Nuff said.

  • monsterofNone

    at a million devices per month and the fastest product launch to a billion, i’d have to agree… this thing will never go mass market.

    what, was this article written in january?

  • JoelM

    I’m missing something here. Yesterday, with my ipad on a 3 hour train ride, I caught up on latest news magazine(no convention newstand enroute), read a chapter of a book, wrote some employee reviews(adding to emailed documents) and wrote a beat sheet for 4 chapters of a novel I’m writing. It was instant on and off. It never got hot or even a tiny bit warm. And I never feared losing battery power(bat at 60% when I got to my hotel.) Oh, and it didn’t take space or add appreciable weight to my backpack.
    And this is supposedly like what other machine out there? And big touch? Right.

    • rob v

      agreed. is a farm tractor just a mere a bigger version of a ride-on mower?; is a Boeing 747 nothing more than a big Cessna ?

      Wait until people cotton onto where they can use “control surfacing”.

      big ipod touch indeed

  • rhb

    Let’s be honest, most of the “mass market” won’t care about it until some celebrity is shilling it or it’s some stupid magazines must have device.

    I do have one and while it does have it’s flaws (can’t find a decent pr0n site that works with it & no camera for skyping), my macbook is now collecting dust on the desk it occupies.

    I throw myself on my couch and play game, read a book, catch the news, watch a movie. The typing on it isn’t as hard as some people made it out to be in the beginning. The keyboard is a complete waste of money.

    Whenever it gets a good HTML editor, my desktop & laptop days are finally over. I agree with Steve Jobs on netbooks. For the most part they are garbage. Cramped typing & battery wasting.

  • Mike

    Over here, I can attest that word of mouth and people letting their friends play with theirs are moving iPads.

  • Stefan Richter

    While this research company certainly lacks credibility it still hits the nail on the head.
    The iPad was portrayed as a computing device that even your gran can use, yet only geeks are buying them.

    I predict that the sales curve is going to flatten out very quickly. Oh, and it won’t kill Flash either.

    • Martyn Walker

      Does it run Silverlight? (Serious question)

      • dude

        Haha! Thankfully, no.

    • Mkay

      I’m a non-techie and love the tablet form. iPad is my first early-adopter item and I have no interest in any other Apple computers. If someone can make them better, bring it on, and I’ll upgrade when I have need.

  • Website Design

    Fills a niche need for watching movies, reading books or playing games while in transit.

    Also makes getting online easy for the non tech people.

    But these are small markets, majority of time people are going to be doing the real work over their mobiles and the normal computer screen.

    There are limits to how much people want to be waving their hands around touching computer screens… doesn’t even come close to replacing my laptop.

    Shiny toy… that’s about it

  • Craig Fitzpatrick

    Apple’s goal is never to sell the ‘most’ products – just the ‘best’ products in each category. Their cash hoard (one of the biggest cash hoards in the tech industry) is testament to the fact that it is a very lucrative model – they built it with their tiny little market share.

    Fastest product ramp to $1billion EVER. Another article I read (but since it’s about sales, the number is factual) – like in less than 2 months…

    Not bad for a ‘niche’.

    That ‘research’ is silliness. Link bait. Everyone loves to critique – it’s much easier than actually creating something yourself.

    What did Ford say? ‘If I asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.’ Customers don’t know what they want until you build it for them and they see Ashton Kutcher using it, lol.

  • Bujji

    This is based on research in UK where the IPad hasn’t arrived yet? There are apps that let you do almost everything you want to do on a PC on an iPad.

    There’s always inertia moving to new ways of doing things.

  • Apple iPad “won’t be mass market” in the UK. Well, not yet anyway | wirefresh

    […] [Via] […]

  • J.P

    Why do people keep saying its just a big iphone? When the ipad doesn’t even make calls?

    It’s nothing like an iphone and everything like the ipod touch.

    Over here in Europe the ipod touch never had that big of an impact, unlike the iphone. Add that the price of the ipad is much more expensive in Europe than in the U.S.

    The ipad will just be another luxury object that a few people will buy for the simple reason that they want one, but not because they need one.

    • Mkay

      I love my “luxury” iPad. I don’t “need” a purse that costs hundreds, a watch that costs thousands, as many seem to. We all enjoy different things. But the anti-iPad people seem more bothered by others’ choices.

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