Opinion on the iPad Plummets Post-Intro

With all of the hype surrounding the introduction of Apple’s iPad, it was practically impossible for the device to live up to the runaway expectations. While it’s impossible to please 100 percent of the crowd, Apple may be finding that as time goes on, people like what they see less and less.

Retrevo, an online electronics marketplace, conducted two separate surveys surrounding the iPad, one before the unveiling (conducted from Jan. 16 to Jan. 20) and one after (Jan. 27 to Feb. 3). The results are less than inspiring for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL).

Respondents were asked if they knew about the device, and those who replied, “Yes, I think I would like to buy one” tripled from 3 percent before launch to 9 percent after launch. Not bad for a device that hasn’t shipped or been reviewed. Those who said they want more information rose from 19 percent to 21 percent

But the number of people who said, “Yes, and I’m not interested in buying one” doubled from 26 percent to 52 percent. The “No, and I’m not interested” number dropped from 35 percent to 18 percent, which bodes well for Apple. It also shows about one in five people can somehow manage to avoid even the loudest of hype.

But there’s more bad news from the follow-up question. When asked if they think they will need one based on what they know about it, those who said “no” jumped from 49 percent to 61 percent. That’s not a good start. Those who said maybe, but wanted to know more fell from 30 percent to 15 percent, indicating a large number still are not sure. Those answering “maybe” remained virtually the same — 18 percent before, 19 percent after.

Additionally, 59 percent said they would not pay the extra $120 for 3G support, while only 12 percent said they would, suggesting that the proliferation of Wi-Fi-enabled hotspots (and perhaps AT&T’s tarnished 3G reputation) has made an impact.

Retrevo concluded, “As we like to say, it’s the apps that sell smartphones like the iPhone and it could very well be those same apps that motivate buyers to run down to the Apple Store and get in line to buy a shiny new iPad. Whether this device becomes a big hit is anyone’s guess but based on this study it sure looks doubtful.”

Apple may have sealed the fate of the iPad out of the gate. Analysts from Credit Suisse met with Apple executives over the weekend, who indicated they would consider lowering the price. “While it remains to be seen how much traction the iPad gets initially, management noted that it will remain nimble (pricing could change if the company is not attracting as many customers as anticipated),” analysts wrote in a research note.

That recalls the launch of the iPhone, which initially debuted at $599, only to be cut to $399 a month later, sparking considerable outrage among early adopters. Retrevo’s survey results, coupled with blogs like Gizmodo saying “Don’t buy an iPad,” calls into question the prospects for the March launch of Apple’s long-awaited tablet.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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