Non-iPad buyers 'Think Different'

"Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo."

That's some of the text from Apple's famous "Think Different" marketing campaign from 1997 to 2002. The promotional likened Apple and Mac users to legendary individuals who stepped outside the mainstream, who expressed their independence and defied convention. Today, iPad is the status quo for tablets. What irony. Buyers of 1.2 million non-iPad tablets, sold at US retail, are the individualists -- the rebels who dared buy something else.

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"Seventy-six percent of consumers who purchased a non-Apple tablet didn’t even consider the iPad, an indication that a large group of consumers are looking for alternatives, and an opportunity for the rest of the market to grow their business", Stephen Baker, NPD's vice president of industry analysis, says.

Today, NPD released non-iPad sales figures for January through October. Retailers -- brick and mortar and online -- sold 1.2 million tablets, generating $415 million in revenue. It's a puny amount compared to iPad. NPD didn't release iPad sales figures, but they're easy enough to figure. Globally, during third calendar quarter, Apple sold in about 10 days as many iPads as all other tablets combined at US retail for the first 10 months of the year.

"I think the biggest takeaway is how weak the non-iPad tablet market really is" , Baker told me today. "The HP Touchpad was on the market for what 6 weeks and was still the best-selling tablet for the whole year, even with the crazy pricing. That is still a pretty damning statement".

Yes, HP is non-iPad market share leader, bolstered by summer's $99 TouchPad fire sale. The PC maker discontinued the tablet after just six weeks of sales. Non-iPad market share leaders:

  • HP -- 17 percent
  • Samsung -- 16 percent
  • ASUS -- 10 percent
  • Motorola -- 9 percent
  • Acer -- 9 percent

Non-iPad sales doubled from second to third quarter and tripled from first to second quarter. HP's fire sale, in late August, lifted the category during first half of the year.

Light the Kindle Fire

Looking ahead, "of course the sales of the non-iPad tablets are likely to be considerably higher for the holiday", Baker told me. I asked about Kindle Fire, which went on sale last week.

"Don't forget the Fire is benefiting not just from price but holiday timing -- at $199 it is a good gift and with a huge percent of iPads sold as gifts last year I suspect the same will be true about the Fire and the rest of the tablet market".

My wife received Kindle Fire last week as an early Christmas present. For days I've repeatedly heard: "Wow". "Amazing". "This is amazing". I asked for her quick review and she responded: "Kindle Fire is to the Kindle [reader] I got for last Christmas what the abacus is to the calculator". She had no interest in iPad 2, by the way; she's among NPD's 76 percent.

In late September, Baker and I discussed a looming tablet price war for the holidays. But there's no clear sign yet that will happen. Tablet is the "one category I am not seeing any evidence of that yet", he told me. "Not sure why except that no one wants to upset the apple cart and they aren't comfortable with the demand that they can generate by being extra low prices".

Much may depend on how well $199 Kindle Fire does as holiday sales pick up following Black Friday. Then there is iPad. I asked Baker: "And Apple has demand such it doesn't need to lower prices?" He answered: "Nope. There's no reason for them to do anything".

By the way, NPD does with tablets what yesterday I said Canalys should do: Categorize tablets by form factor. Canalys considers tablets as PCs. Gartner and IDC break out media tablets from those running Windows, which count as PCs. NPD does it right, by counting all slate form factors, even those running Windows, as tablets. That said, Windows tablets sales are negligible, according to NPD.

Circling back to where I started. Who are some of these individualists who "Think Different" about tablets. Betanews reader Jack Mabry is "enjoying my Acer Iconia A500. It has the entertainment side covered, and I've found it very useful in meetings for taking notes".

Reader shy_one "bought an Asus Transformer...it's nice -- does almost all that I want it to and my cousin's 4-year and 7-year olds love to play with it when I come over, and the keyboard/extra battery pack makes sure I have enough power to go a couple days between charges".

Do you own a tablet, and it's not iPad? I'd love your story, either here in comments or by email (joe at betanews dot com). What you bought, why and why not iPad?

Photo Credit: Pixel 4 Images/Shutterstock

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