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iPad not stopping PC sales, says analyst

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The iPad is not pulling sales away from PCs, US-based market watcher NPD has claimed.

Having spoken to an unspecified - but presumably statistically significant - number of North Americans who have owned an iPad for six months or more, NPD found that only 14 per cent of them had bought the tablet in place of a netbook, notebook or desktop.

Focus on folk who got their iPad last Christmas, and the proportion falls to 12 per cent.

In short, tablet punters are, on the whole, not buying the one product in place of another.

"Overall it appears that the vast majority of iPad purchases to-date have been incremental to the consumer technology industry," said NPD research chief Stephen Baker.

Why then is there a perception that they are?

According to NPD, growth in the personal computer sales is down because the Windows 7 sales splurge is now past and so is the initial burst of netbook purchases.

If anything, says Baker, you'd expect tablets to eat into sales of cheap consumer-oriented notebooks - those under $500 (£307) in his book - but that segment experienced growth of 21 per cent for the six months ending March 2011. Sales of pricier notebooks were down 25 per cent.

We'd just suggest that it's perhaps too early to call this one. Punters may generally not have bought an iPad instead of, say, a netbook now, but the tablet purchase may dissuade them from doing so in the future.

Only by tracking demand over time will we see whether tablets are generally an additional computing tool, or a replacement for a different form-factor.

Interestingly, NPD found that US customers generally don't favour 3G iPads - in marked contrast to research from UK-based Context, which found that Europeans do like the 3G models. ®

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