Apple's iPad 2 is attracting first-time iPad buyers, according to a new survey by analyst firm Piper Jaffray. That could bode well for the new tablet, which Apple needs to help fend off competition from a number of high-powered rivals, including the Motorola Xoom and Research In Motion's upcoming PlayBook.
"We spoke with 236 people in line for the iPad 2 on Fri. (3/11) in New York and Minneapolis," analyst Gene Munster wrote in the survey results. "Typically demand on Apple product launch days is driven by upgrades, but our data suggests Apple is gaining new iPad users vs. upgrading existing ones."
To that end, the survey found that some 70 percent of iPad 2 buyers "were new to the iPad compared to 23 percent of iPhone 4 buyers that were new to the iPhone at launch."
Munster also believes that Apple sold between 400,000 and 500,000 iPad 2 units. "We note that the weekend number for the iPad 2 is essentially a launch day total because stock across retailers was mostly depleted by late Friday and not replenished during the weekend."
While a sample size of 236 people pales in comparison to the millions of people expected to purchase the iPad 2, it could certainly suggest certain rough trends emerging during the tablet's first days of shelf life. The firm's survey also found that 47 percent of iPad 2 purchases chose a model with 3G capability. Some 41 percent purchased the 32GB "midrange" iPad 2. Out of all purchasers, some 65 percent already owned an iPhone, and 24 percent had a Kindle.
On March 11, eWEEK visited three Apple Stores in New York City and found a situation similar to that described by Munster. At the company's flagship Fifth Avenue store, the line for iPad 2 purchasers snaked in multiple directions, and press photographers steadily photographed everyone exiting the door with a boxed iPad 2 in hand. On the Upper West Side, the line for the iPad 2 stretched around the corner. And down in SoHo, the crowd packed around the entrance resembled a very polite riot.
Apple employees at the SoHo store said their initial supply of the iPad 2 had been stripped.
Meanwhile, Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdry, based on an analysis of four Apple stores and three Best Buy retail outlets, decided that Apple had already sold three times as many iPad 2 units over two days as the original iPad.
Research firm IDC recently suggested that Apple's share of the tablet market declined from 93 percent in the third quarter of 2010 to 73 percent in the fourth quarter. Despite the presence of more competitors in the tablet space, IDC expects that Apple will maintain a 70 percent to 80 percent market-share in 2011. A flood of new iPad owners could help make that happen.