NPD says not to blame iPad for slowing PC sales

Research firm NPD is giving everyone a reality check in cause-and-effect.

The group doesn’t deny that PC sales have been sluggish since the launch of the iPad, but says that doesn’t really prove anything. The iPad effect is negligible when you consider how huge of a market there is for computers.

According to NPD’s latest report, only 14% of the iPad’s early adopters decided to forgo their traditional PC and rely on their iPad instead. And even fewer than that have done so when you factor in more recent iPad buyers.

“The conventional wisdom that says tablet sales are eating into low- priced notebooks is most assuredly incorrect. The over $500 Windows consumer notebooks market is where PC sales have been impacted the most, with a 25 percent decline from October 2010 to March 2011,” said NPD VP Stephen Baker in a statement.

NPD also pointed out that the vast majority of people who bought an iPad never would have had any intention to buy a computer otherwise. In other words, it’s not like people were debating between and iPad and a PC, and decided on an iPad.

The group points to the explosion of computers sold when Windows 7 first launched. Thus, when you look at the subsequent years, of course PC sales are going to decline by comparison.

Interestingly enough, NPD also looked at consumer preference for the iPad and whether or not the 3G connectivity was a big deal.

“There’s an added expense for the device and for the service, something a majority of iPad owners aren’t willing to pay. Since most iPads rarely venture away from home the value of a 3G connection is likely to diminish, especially as other tablets enter the market and pricing starts to fall. When every penny counts, features that aren’t core to the user becoming increasingly marginalized as manufacturers fight for every sale,” concluded Baker.