iPad Takes Bow, But Price May Hold Back Sales

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CUPERTINO, CALIF. — Apple readied the Wi-Fi version of its iPad for sale through its stores, Web site and most Best Buy stores at press time last week, but an NPD study found it may be too pricey for many.

The debut was set for Saturday, April 3, through Apple’s 221 locations and online site as well as through most Best Buy locations. Previously, Apple declined to disclose whether any of its authorized retailers would have it in store on the same day that the product would be launched through Apple stores. Apple, however, has always said the iPad would be offered through its authorized resellers.

Apple also announced that it will offer free iPad setup for every customer who buys an iPad at the Apple stores, helping purchasers set up email accounts, load their favorite apps from the App Store and more.

Suggested retails for the Wi-Fi-only iPads on sale April 3 are $499 for a 16GB model, $599 for 32GB and $699 for 64GB. The Wi-Fi + 3G models will be available in late April at a suggested $629 for 16GB, $729 for 32GB and $829 for 64GB.

All versions will be sold through Apple’s stores, most Best Buy stores, other select authorized resellers and campus bookstores.

While CNN.com reported last week that consumers who pre-ordered iPads as of Friday, March 26 may get delivery late — by Tuesday, April 12 — an NPD survey shows that for the general public potential sales may be hindered by price and no clear need.

A study of 2,000 consumers by NPD found 66 percent were not likely or not likely at all to purchase an iPad in the next six months. This compared with the 9 percent who indicated they were extremely or very likely to do so. This figure went up slightly to 10 percent among the coveted 18- to 34-year-old demographic. Sixty percent of current Apple-product owners were not likely or not likely at all to buy an iPad.

This is despite the fact that 82 percent of Apple owners were aware of the iPad. Many of these were also interested in owning an iPad, if not necessarily willing to pull the trigger and make a purchase.

The study found 18 percent of all consumers expressed a real interest in the device, with this figure growing to 27 percent among 18 - to 34-year-olds. About 24 percent of Apple owners were extremely or very interested.

Apple owners were particularly interested because the iPad came from Apple and has a multi-touch screen.

Steve Baker, NPD’s industry analysis VP, said those most interested see the iPad primarily as a music device or for its Internet access capabilities. However, he pointed out that these usage models are part of the reason why people may not make an immediate purchase.

“Considering what people are planning to use the iPad for, it’s not hard to understand why people who have these capabilities on other devices, such as the iPod Touch or a notebook/netbook, may not want to spend $500 or more on a similar device,” he said.

Fifty-seven percent of the 18- to 34- year-old crowd cited the $500 price tag as the primary reason for not buying an iPad. This figure fell to 43 percent among Apple owners.


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