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Brit consumers shun the iPad - for now

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The iPad won't be mass market in the UK, according to a market research firm which took to the streets to see what British consumers think about Apple's tablet.

Then comes its qualifier - "at least not yet".

Researcher Simpson Carpenter teed up four qualitative groups with an iPad. Participants admired the iPad's "cool", but few could justify parting with at least £500 for one.

As a standalone purchase it "occupies too much territory already covered by smartphones, PCs, laptops and traditional media".

Nothing Reg Hardware readers didn't know already, then.

Let's not forget the "impulsive minority will simply have to have it. For them, it's not about function, compatibility or improvement but about raw appeal, it's sheer magic. Typical of these consumers was this response It's just fantastic. I don't need it, but it's wonderful and I want it.

Simpson Carpenter's discussion highlighted two clear consumer reactions: "Initial excitement followed by ultimate rejection (the mainstream) or sustained interest built on emotional or functional benefits (the minority)."

So basically, most consumers struggle to see what the iPad is for:

It's for business people presenting and taking work home; it's for students to replace hard copy textbooks and materials; it's for commuters to use instead of spreading their arms with a broadsheet newspaper; but it's not for me and it doesn't have a clear role in normal life.

The comments below are typical of the responses gleaned by Simpson Carpenter:

  • Everything it does I can do on my PC or my phone right now; I just don't need another thing.
  • It's just a big iPod Touch ... a big iPhone without the phone. Or the camera.

Perhaps this is because the iPad is not intended as a primary computing device but as a great way of consuming media. And it is very early days for tablets.

Today British consumers are in the dark. They will get the point when they see iPads and other tablets and e-book readers at work and play - bought by the impulsive minority, the tech savvy and the wealthy. And when the prices come down, as they surely will.

Then they can shun the iPad from a position of knowledge, rather than ignorance. ®

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