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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

May 5, 2011 at 12:22 PM

iPads not displacing PCs, consoles yet, report finds

Nielsen today released a report on how U.S. consumers are using their iPads and other tablet computing devices.

The research suggests that the risk to the PC industry from the iPad is there, but awfully overstated. It also makes me wonder how pleased buyers are with their expensive new tablets.

The majority of people told Nielsen that buying a tablet hasn’t led to a reduction in how often they use PCs, netbooks, portable media players, game consoles, smartphones or connected TVs.

A tiny number of tablet buyers said they’ve stopped using their computers since their purchase – 2 percent said they’re no longer using their laptop, 3 percent stopped using their desktop and 5 percent stopped using their netbook.

But a greater number of people said they’ve been using their computers more since they bought an iPad or other tablet. Nielsen found 22 percent are using their netbook more often, 13 percent are using their laptops more and 9 percent are using their desktops more since buying a tablet.

Can you imagine the conversation between spouses in those households? “Why did you have to spend $800 on that thing, honey? You’re just spending more time on the plain old computer …”

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We’ll have to see what the next few installments of the survey say about computing trends. So far it sounds like tablets are being used as computer accessories more than computer replacements.

It would be helpful if Nielsen provided information on whether tablets are meeting buyers’ expectations. How many buyers thought they were getting a computer replacement?

The survey says 68 percent of people who bought tablets are using their laptop the same or more since the purchase, and 72 percent are using their netbooks the same or more.

Were they expecting the tablet to take the place of other gadgets in the home?

Of those that had another e-reader, like Amazon.com’s Kindle, 72 percent said they’re using their e-readers the same or more since buying a tablet, and 89 percent said they’re using their Internet-connected TVs more since buying the device.

Then again, these are people who bought a tablet when they already had computers and perhaps a Kindle, Web-connected TV and game consoles. Maybe they just don’t have much time for their latest toy.

About a third of tablet buyers said they’re using their computers less or not at all. Nielsen provided a few reasons why, after asking tablet buyers why they’re using the new device for things they used to do on a laptop or desktop.

Here are the reasons, which should be a roadmap for PC makers designing their Windows 8 machines:

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Comments | Topics: Android, Apple, Gadgets & products

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