Apple tablet hype killing laptop sales


The Apple tablet is all set to go on sale next week, and anticipation seems to have hit such a fever pitch that it may even be harming sales of Apple's own products.

Earlier in the month, market research firm ChangeWave spoke to more than 3,000 consumers about their spending on consumer technology, including the gadgets they were anticipating buying in the future.

Nearly one in five (18 per cent) affirmed that they were either very (four per cent) or somewhat (14 per cent) likely to buy the Apple tablet once it's on sale, with three quarters of those interested willing to spend more than $500 to do so and 37 per cent over $700.

ChangeWave says the demand for the slate is on a par with 2005's wave of anticipation in the build-up to Apple switching its computer range from PowerPC to Intel processors. And it says that if the similarity extends to the public's willingness to put their money where their mouth is, the Apple tablet should sell in droves.

In 2005, more than a third of consumers claiming to be potential Mac buyers said they were willing to keep hold of their cash till the Intel-based processors were phased in.

"Apple's switch to the Intel chip widely broadened the Mac's appeal to consumers and proved to be one of the great moves in Apple history," ChangeWave wrote in a statement accompanying the report. "Five years later, our ChangeWave survey shows similarly high levels of pre-launch excitement for the tablet."

The tablet's increasing shadow is leaving a very real vacuum in product sales, it says: respondents saying they had spent money on a new laptop in the previous 90 days dropped had dropped across the board, with Apple's MacBook share falling from 25 per cent in September to 17 per cent now among the respondents and that's factoring Christmas sales into the equation too.

ChangeWave does point out that the flattening of Apple's sales coincides with the release of Windows 7, which has unquestionably spurred on sales of new PCs in recent months. But the inescapable hype surrounding the imminent tablet is certain to have had an impact too.

The Apple tablet is scheduled to be let loose at a press event in San Francisco next Wednesday.