Apple Sold a Lot of iPad Minis, but Apple Loyalty Appears to Wane

 
 
By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2012-11-05
 
 
 

Apple sold 3 million iPads in the three days after the release of the iPad Mini and the fourth-generation iPad, the company said in a Nov. 5 statement. The figure doubles the sales of Apple's previous first-weekend "milestone," when it sold 1.5 million WiFi-only third-generation iPads in March.

However, despite these numbers, analysts suggest that something of the Apple allure is slipping.

For the first time since the 2007 release of the iPhone, loyalty among owners of the smartphone is flagging. A survey from Strategy Analytics found that 75 percent of iPhone owners in Western Europe planned to buy their next smartphone from Apple, which was down from 88 percent in 2011, the firm said in an Oct. 30 report.

Among U.S. iPhone owners, 88 percent said they planned to purchase another iPhone, down from 93 percent in 2011.

"Respondents who say they probably will or definitely will not buy their next phone from Apple is low," Strategy Analytics analyst Taryn Tulay said in an Oct. 30 statement. "However, it is the shift in the number of those who are unsure whether they will remain with the same brand for their next phone that Apple should be concerned about."

Paul Brown, director of the firm's User Experience Practice, said that Apple no doubt continues to attract new customers and to retain many existing customers.

"However, negative press prompted by a perceived lack of recent innovation by Apple has meant we are starting to see some growth in the number of previously highly loyal consumers who are now reconsidering whether or not they will purchase a new iPhone for their next device," Brown said in a statement.

Apple's fourth-generation iPad—introduced Oct. 23 alongside the Apple Mini, two new all-in-one Macs, a new MacBook Pro and a refreshed Mac Mini—comes just six months after the introduction of the iPad 3 and closely resembles its predecessor, though it boasts an Apple-made processor that's twice as fast as the one before it.

In recent weeks Apple has also faced criticism for the Maps app in iOS 6, the software run by the iPhone 5. The app, developed in-house, was intended to enable Apple to free its devices of rival Google's Maps app, but was quickly found to have shipped before all the bugs were out. Apple announced Sept. 24—three days after the iPhone 5 went on sale—that more than 100 million iOS devices had upgraded to iOS 6. But no doubt, many others continued along with iOS 5, as users were unwilling to compromise their ability to access accurate maps and directions.

Apple CEO Tim Cook later apologized for the software failing and fired the executive, Scott Forstall, who oversaw the effort. According to reports, Forstall refused to publically apologize, arguing that Apple should instead address the matter without taking on blame, as it did after the iPhone 4 was found to have problems with its antenna design. 

While Strategy Analytics didn't address the loyalty of iPad owners, Nov. 5 data from IDC suggests that in the tablet space, too, repeat customers may be less of a given for Apple.

During the third quarter, Samsung, Asus and Lenovo all grew their shares of the tablet market year-over-year, as Apple's slipped to 50.4 percent from 59.7 percent. While Apple is expected to enjoy strong sales during the fourth quarter, Tom Mainelli, IDC research director, said in a statement that the relatively high price of the iPad Mini—which starts at $329, while many others are priced at $199—"leaves plenty of room for Android vendors to build upon the success they achieved in the third quarter."

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