Among the fragments of facts, speculation and random dreaming about Apple's tablet PC, here's one hard statistic for once: A survey of over 3,300 U.S. consumers has shown nearly 20% of them would buy one. Its success looks assured.
ChangeWave Research carried out the survey earlier this month to discover what electronics consumers would be likely to purchase over the next 90 days. Among the questions was a description of the rough capabilities an Apple tablet is expected to have—10-inch screen, virtual keyboard on a touchscreen, Wi-fi, iTunes and App Store integration. Faced with questions about this sort of Apple gizmo, 4% of the responders said they were "very likely" to buy such a device, with 14% more labeling themselves as "somewhat likely."
That means close to 20% of the U.S. consumers surveyed would be interested in buying Apple's machine—equating to millions of home-nation sales alone, if the survey is seen as representative of the greater population. But under what conditions? ChangeWave also asked that question, framing it with price brackets. Of those that said they'd be interested in buying one, 75% would be happy to pay over $500. That dovetails sweetly with long-standing statements from Apple itself that it can't see how to make a computer that delivers its trademark customer experience for less than $500.
But there's even better news for Apple—37% of respondents said they'd be happy to spend over $700. No one knows what price Apple has in mind precisely, of course, but it's possible that recent discussions of a "sub $1,000" cost were leaked by Apple to incite debate, or prepare the PR ground for the actual launch. Other rumors have pegged the price at between $500 and $1,000, with very far-fetched suggestions of an OLED-equipped version costing upwards of $1,500. The fact that over a third of the interested parties in ChangeWave's stats would pay over $700 will surely be heartening to some execs in Cupertino.