Apple’s(s aapl) iPad continues to dominate the overall tablet market, but that alone shouldn’t be scaring manufacturers of other tablets and PCs. Instead, they should be concerned about this statistic: for one in four people buying iPads, the tablet is their very first Apple product. NPD Group reported the data on Thursday and notes that the while the iPod used to be the first Apple product many bought, today it’s a combination of iPads and iPhones.
Relatively speaking the iPad and iPhone are considered to be bulletproof consumer electronics devices. Sure, both have had issues in the past — the iPhone 4’s “antennagate” and iPad’s wireless problems come to mind — but the overall experience remains rock solid. A Changewave survey from earlier this month, for example, showed that 98 percent of all new iPad owners were either “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with their iPad purchase. And by the growing number of iPhone sales, it’s reasonable to think Apple’s handset is meeting or exceeding expectations as well.
So what’s the potential problem that PC makers should be concerned about? If consumers are happy with their first Apple product, they’re apt look to the company for additional hardware. Think MacBooks, iMacs, Airport routers and so on. And here’s the kicker for these first timers on an iPad or iPhone: Bits of the iOS look and feel are already part of Mac OS X Lion and will be expanded in Mountain Lion. When you add in the iCloud sync for Reminders and Messages that works on both iOS devices and Mac computers, the higher priced Apple laptops and desktops become even more compelling. Or even worse: Folks may consider not buying a PC at all and simply use an iPad for more computing tasks.
Sure there are a few PC makers that are trying to find some success in both the computer and the mobile industries: Samsung, Toshiba, Sony (s sne) and Lenovo are some that come to mind. But none of these companies has melded the mobile and desktop experiences, user interface and ecosystem like Apple is doing. So while 25 percent of new iPad owners are getting their first taste of an Apple product may not sound alarming, warning bells should be ringing in the offices of those focused on desktops and mobiles as two discrete product lines.