By Harry McCracken
Long before anyone knew much of anything about the iPad, people were expressing strong opinions about it. But the opinions that matter most didn’t begin to get formed until April 3rd, the day Apple’s tablet finally went on sale. That’s when teeming masses of consumers spent their own money on iPads, took them home, and put them to an array of utterly real-world tests.
We gave those folks a few weeks to explore their new gadgets. And then we fielded a survey earlier this month to gauge the satisfaction level of some of the first iPad owners. More than six thousand people responded, the largest response to a Technologizer survey to date.
Executive summary in case you don’t feel like reading the rest of this article: They like it. A lot. Ninety-eight percent say they’re satisfied with their iPads overall; ninety-six percent think it’s a good value. In category after category–3G service, most of the individual bundled apps, battery life, speed, the absence of Flash–a majority of respondents are pleased.
In only one major area did unhappy campers dominate: A majority aren’t pleased with Apple’s App Store approval process. More than half also wish Apple had given the tablet printing capabilities, a memory-card slot, and a front-facing camera.
The extremely warm response for the iPad isn’t astonishing. (Come to think of it, it’s reminiscent of the raves we heard about Windows 7 in our survey about that operating system.) Early adopters, pretty much by definition, are people who are extremely excited about a new product; unless it abjectly fails to deliver on its promises, it makes sense that they’d be inclined to be upbeat. (Here’s a story idea for somebody–maybe us–for another time: Conduct a survey of people who bought iPads and then returned them.)
Still, there are plenty of interesting tidbits in our data. And the cumulative experiences of six thousand iPad owners serve as a useful reality check on the device’s pros and cons as reported in reviews.
[This post is excerpted with Harry McCracken's permission from his Technologizer blog.]