Apple iPad “won’t be mass market” in the UK. Well, not yet anyway

Apple iPad

We can’t say that we’re feeling particularly tempted to join the high-fivin’ Apple queues for the iPad, and research from one British market research company suggests that we’re not alone.

Mike Stevens, Director of Telecoms Media and Technology at Simpson Carpenter says that the iPad “won’t become a mass market computer in the UK”.

Cool response

Apple is already taking pre-order for its new slate device (scheduled for a May 28th launch ), but Stevens found that the response from ‘four qualitative groups of typical British consumers’ was decidedly cool:

When the iPhone was launched, it revolutionised an existing category that people understood. The iPad is at the vanguard of a new category that sits between the computer and the phone – so it’s not surprising that many consumers struggle to see how it could fit in their lives.

“Niche groups with specific emotional or functional needs love it; but right now there isn’t a compelling incentive to get mainstream consumers to buy it. Of course this may change once they see how early adopters use it – but in our view the iPad will take longer to achieve the sales growth and wider market impact of the iPhone.

“Of course an impulsive minority will simply have to have it. For them, it’s not about function, compatibility or improvement but about raw appeal, its 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.”

Apple iPad

It’s just a big iPhone

Carpenter’s research drew less than enthusiastic comments from participants such as: “It’s just a big iPod Touch …a big iPhone without the phone” and “everything it does I can do on my PC or my phone right now,” with many of the iPad’s big selling points being seen as too niche and task-specific.

It’s a wow

Although the majority of those interviewed thought the iPad had the ‘wow’ factor (we wouldn’t disagree there), most found it difficult to justify buying the thing.

“It occupies too much territory already covered by smartphones, PCs, laptops and traditional media”, observed the report, adding that most consumers were unable, “to find enough rational argument to justify taking the plunge.”


That’s not to say that the iPad may not be a success in the long term of course – these studies can be notoriously wonky in their findings – but few would disagree with their rather unsurprising and super-safe conclusion:

“In our view the iPad will take longer to achieve the sales growth and wider market impact of the iPhone.”