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Survey: iPad Is Replacing Computers for Many

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In a study surveying 500 iPad (s aapl) owners, Business Insider found some interesting data with implications for web publishers, app designers, and even other gadget makers. It’s got some handy information for those considering giving the gift of iPad this holiday, too.

Novelty or Lasting Value?

Though the researchers originally thought the iPad might be passed off as a flashy device that held little long-term value, 77.6 percent of the users found their iPad usage went up after their initial “honeymoon” period. So, the iPad probably won’t end up in your return pile shortly along with oddly-colored sweaters.

PC Replacement?

When it comes to function, 28.9 percent of users say that the iPad has replaced their primary computer. In a related question, users were asked which device they used most frequently. The iPad was found to be used most often by those surveyed: 31.8 percent of the time. Laptop usage, at 31 percent, fell just under, with the desktop further back still at 22.1 percent, and smartphone usage coming in last at 15.2 percent.

Taken together, the numbers make a strong case for the iPad’s ability to meet the basic computing needs of a large group of users. As the iPad gains even more ground on its notebook competition through hardware and software upgrades, we could see that number grow significantly.

Kindle and iBooks

The iPad is also used as an e-reader; 74.5 percent of those surveyed read books on their iPad. But, though the iPad is a popular book device, 50 percent of users who read on their iPads chose the Kindle app (s amzn) as their preferred reading app. Only 42.4 percent chose iBooks first. Amazon is clearly winning the e-book war by being platform-agnostic.

Daily Usage

On average, around 74.8 percent of iPad users spend between one and five hours a day on their tablet device; 15.3 percent spend less than an hour; and 9.8 percent spend five or more hours per day.

Web browsing occupies 37.7 percent of the time spent on the iPad, followed by 23.6 percent of time spent on email, Facebook, and other communication apps. The lowest category, at only 10.2 percent, was spent playing games. Users clearly value the iPad for its usefulness as a web and communication tool first and foremost.

iPad App Habits

The survey found that 56.1 percent have downloaded 20 or more apps. Most have downloaded around 10 paid apps (52.3 percent having downloaded 6-20 paid apps). So while free apps account for a majority of downloads, paid apps are by no means being ignored.

Yet, of all of the downloading, whether it be paid or free, most people use 10 apps or less on a regular basis, leaving half or more of their apps ignored shortly after download. In fact, the most commonly used app is one you don’t even download: Safari. The built-in browser remains the iPad’s killer app.

Taking in the News

When viewing news on the iPad, the majority (at 37 percent) preferred the iPad’s web browser, while those using news apps came in a close second at 34.7 percent. In last place, we find using a newsreader app such as Flipboard or Reeder with 28.3 percent. So, if you’re ready to leave behind the newspaper, the iPad offers many viable alternatives.

iPad to MacBook Air

Only 4.2 percent of iPad users surveyed have purchased the new MacBook Air. Of that small number, 95.8 percent say it hasn’t decreased their iPad usage. Also, 76.1 percent of those surveyed felt that the iPad and MacBook Air weren’t competing devices. Obviously, Apple is still doing a great job of convincing us that each of its devices has a very specific purpose, even among devices that scratch the same portability itch.

All data considered, the survey reveals that the iPad is making inroads on the role traditionally filled by notebook PCs, and it’s replacing a selection of lower-tech devices, too, like print books and newspapers. Developers, take note: People seem happiest using their devices for browsing the web and connecting with one another. Combine those elements in just the right mix, and you could have a top-selling app on your hands.

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6 Responses to “Survey: iPad Is Replacing Computers for Many”

  1. More users use news apps than do apps like Flipboard and Pulse, but if you compare the average rating of “newsmedia apps” to the average rating of “personal news aggregator” apps (Flipboard, Pulse, Newsrack, etc) on the iTunes Store. The latter gets 4 out of 5 stars. The news media apps average a 2,5 star out of 5.

    Seems to me most prefer the “personal news aggregator” apps.

    Just saying….

  2. Ha! But you still need a computer to run your ipad since you have to update through itunes!

    I must say though, the new macbook air has made me use my ipad much less. But I think it might just be temporary lust.

  3. If 75% of users spend less than 5 hrs a day on the iPad, it seems to me that any computer would be over kill for them. If the total time is spent on webmail, surfing and games,you don’t really need a computer.

  4. I can see for 1/3 of the users that their current desktop PC is overkill for their basic needs. An iPad will do them just fine and save them money/frustration in the long term.

  5. Intriguing article. One nitpick: “platform agnostic” – I assume you mean “platform neutral” or “open” or something like that. Agnostic means “without [the possibility of] knowledge.” I’m pretty sure Amazon isn’t ignorant of the platforms. :)

    • If I might piggyback on your nitpick – I don’t think being platform “agnostic” or “neutral” is the main reason why Amazon has a slight edge over iBooks on the iPad. I would argue that the real reason is that the Kindle store has a wider selection and is cheaper on average.

      Of the 3 books I’ve purchased for the Kindle app, 2 were not available on iBooks and the other was cheaper for Kindle. Seems like a no brainer to me.