iPad grabs top spot in tablet purchase poll

72% of Americans planning to buy a tablet in next 90 days pick iPad; half of those people tap iPad Air

Apple's iPad was the preferred pick of prospective tablet buyers this holiday season by a huge margin, according to a market research firm's survey of 25,000 Americans.

ChangeWave Research, an arm of 451 Research, said last week that 13% of those polled planned on buying a tablet in the next 90 days, more than twice the number of its previous survey in August, and in the ballpark of the polls before the last two year-end holiday stretches.

"Apple continues to hold a tight grip on next 90-day tablet demand," said ChangeWave in a short description of some of the survey's results.

Seventy-two percent of the people who said they would buy a tablet in the next three months claimed that they would choose an Apple device, representing about 9% of the 25,000 who responded to the survey.

ChangeWave attributed the dramatic increase in iPad planned purchases to the late-October introduction of the iPad Air and Retina-equipped iPad Mini. The unveilings, along with the $30 price reduction of the first-generation iPad Mini, dampened consumer enthusiasm for other tablets, including those from Amazon, Google and Samsung.

The Samsung Galaxy line, for example, dropped from 13% in August to 9% in the November-conducted poll, while Google's Nexus fell from 12% to 9%.

Only Microsoft's Surface brand gained planned-purchase share, climbing from 7% to 8%. "[That's] a hopeful sign for [Microsoft's] October Surface 2 tablet launch," said ChangeWave.

Microsoft introduced its second-generation Surface tablets in late September and started selling them Oct. 22. The company also kept the first-generation Surface RT, renamed as simply "Surface," at the marked-down $349 price it had used since July, when it began to unload excess inventory.

ChangeWave's survey also showed that of Apple's tablets, the iPad Air was the one most likely to be bought, with 55% of those selecting an Apple tablet saying that they would purchase the new Air. That matches other metrics that have called out the Air as Apple's top seller since early November.

Apple's new iPads have dampened the enthusiasm for rival tablets from Amazon, Google and Samsung, says researcher ChangeWave. (Image: ChangeWave Research.)

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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