Apple's iPad rated highest among tablets in consumer satisfaction, according to a new study from IHS.
The research firm asked 1,404 users whether they would recommend their tablet to friends or family members. On a scale of 0 to 10 (with 10 being the strongest recommendation), those surveyed gave Apple's iPad an 8.8, followed by Zenithink (a Chinese manufacturer) with 8.75, Samsung with 8.5 and Archos and Motorola with 8.4.
"With the iPad dominating tablet sales in the United States and worldwide," Rhoda Alexander, director of monitor and tablet research at IHS, wrote in a July 29 statement, "this high level of consumer satisfaction commanded by Apple represents a major barrier to entry for new competitors."
IHS also found that, among those likely to purchase a tablet in the future, some 50 percent said they would opt for an iPad. In that particular survey, Dell came in second with 11 percent.
Apple sold 9.25 million iPads last quarter, good for a year-over-year increase of 183 percent.
"We sold every iPad we could make," CFO Peter Oppenheimer told analysts and media listening to Apple's July 19 earnings call, while suggesting that significant majorities of the Fortune 500 were studying how to best integrate the bestselling tablet into their employees' workflow.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs and his executives like to talk about the tech world entering a "post-PC" era, one in which mobile devices such as the iPad take precedence in users' lives over the traditional PC. But could that phenomenon end up backfiring on Apple, driving a decline in Mac sales over the long term?
During the earnings call, Apple COO Tim Cook both acknowledged and downplayed the gravitational effect of the iPad on sales of the company's other products. "Some customers chose to purchase an iPad instead of a new Mac during the quarter," he told media and analysts. "But even more customers chose to buy an iPad over a Windows PC. ... There's a lot more of the PC Windows business to cannibalize than the Mac."
Analysts have been studying the iPad's potential effect on the rest of Apple's balance sheet.
"The iPad has successfully integrated the functionality of a slimmed down notebook into a media-player form factor," Gleacher & Co. analyst Brian Marshall wrote in a July 20 research note, "and has effectively rendered a significant portion of the Mac (and potentially the iPhone) product family obsolete. This presents a serious problem as iPhones and Macs generated 64 [percent] of Apple's total revenue in [calendar year] 2010."
Apple continues to ramp up its iPad distribution, with an increased focus on the enterprise. According to the company, some 86 percent of the Fortune 500 is either testing or deploying the tablet. "To be this far into the enterprise with a product that's only been shipping for 15 months is incredible because the enterprise is traditionally much more conservative," Cook said during the earnings call.