1-in-5 U.S. consumers plan to buy Apple's iPad

Current owners report satisfaction numbers in the 'nose-bleed' range, says pollster

Positive press and word of mouth from very satisfied owners has convinced one-in-five U.S. consumers to buy an Apple iPad, a survey published today said.

In a poll of nearly 3,400 consumers, ChangeWave Research found that 7% are "very likely," and 13% "somewhat likely" to buy an iPad at some point. Those numbers, noted Paul Carton, ChangeWave's research director, are significantly higher than the 4% and 9% who answered the same way in a February survey taken after Apple CEO Steve Jobs had unveiled the media tablet, but before it went on sale in early April.

While 19% of those who plan to purchase an iPad said that they would do so in the next 90 days, the majority of consumers who want an Apple tablet will buy one in six months or more. And that has to make Apple happy this holiday season.

"Apple's going to have an iPad holiday," said Carton. "We'll see a holiday spending wave on the iPad."

Of the consumers who said they plan to buy an iPad, 24% said they would do so in 6 to 12 months, with another 24% saying they would pull the buying trigger in 12 to 24 months.

The reasons polled Americans gave for wanting an iPad "cuts across the board," said Carton, and range from its e-reader capabilities (15%) and portability (15%) to ease of Internet access (8%) and as a PC or smartphone replacement (7%).

Word of mouth from satisfied iPad users may also play a part. According to a second ChangeWave survey that polled 153 current iPad owners, more than nine out of 10 are pleased with the purchase. Nearly three-fourths (74%) said they are "very satisfied" with their iPad, while another 17% said they were "somewhat satisfied."

"Apple is reaching the kind of nose-bleed satisfaction numbers of iPhone owners," said Carton. "A 91% satisfied rating is a very good beginning for Apple, to say the least."

A ChangeWave poll last fall put the iPhone "very satisfied" and "somewhat satisfied" total at 99%, a number that Carton said at the time was "on a different planet" compared to rival smartphones.

But not everything is hunky-dory with the iPad, said Carton.

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