Speaking at a event Tuesday in Santa Clara, CA, Apple (s aapl) co-founder Steve Wozniak said that the “iPad is for the normal people of the world.” He was speaking at the Storage Network World conference (via The Telegraph), and made a distinction between his tech savvy audience and the average consumer. Wozniak’s statement has the ring of truth, but is it really accurate?
According to Wozniak, it has always been Steve Jobs’ dream to create a computer that was easy enough for anyone to pick up and use, but “but it was just hard to get there, because we had to go through a lot of steps where you connected to things.” Anyone who’s had the pleasure of trying to set up a wireless network even just five to ten years ago can probably attest to this. If you remember connecting to the web in its earliest days, then you probably don’t need any more convincing.
Anecdotally, the iPad is the first computing device my mother has ever enjoyed being able to use. It’s also the only computer my girlfriend needs; she’s completely abandoned her aging Windows (s msft) laptop (I actually haven’t even physically seen it in around six months) in favor of my first-gen iPad. And it’s the only computing device my luddite friend living in the wilderness of northern Ontario has ever asked me about with genuine curiosity. And of course, there’s the now famous story of the 100 year-old woman who was thrilled with her first computer purchase: a first-generation iPad:
Yet, many of the numbers detailing the average iPad user seem to go against such anecdotal findings. A November 2010 survey performed by SAI found that just 28.9 percent of respondents indicated that the iPad was their primary computing device. It’s an impressive number, but it still suggests that for the large majority, an iPad is a secondary device. Then there’s a December 2010 study performed by the Reynolds Journalism Institute that found that the average iPad owner is a college-educated 48-year old man, earning more than $100,000 per year. That’s hardly a picture of normalcy in the U.S., where 75 percent of the population earn less than $50,000 a year, and women make up a little more than half the total population, according to the latest census data.
Of course, the iPad has only existed for a little over a year. Global adoption, especially among demographics that are traditionally slow-moving when it comes to new tech uptake, will take time, so it makes sense that early iPad owner statistics would be more indicative of what constitutes an early adopter than what best represents the target market of the iPad itself.
Wozniak may be over-generalizing when he says that the “iPad is for the normal people of this world,” but it still represents the best attempt we’ve yet seen to make computing easy enough for users who don’t have extensive computer-using experience. And the price of entry for ownership is on the low side not only for tablets, but also for computing devices in general. I suspect that the picture of the average iPad user depicted above won’t be the same one we see in two or three years, and that Woz’s statement will make even more sense as Apple continues to refine the iOS experience with the general computer user in mind.