The iPad's overwhelming popularity could be resulting in the tablet device's cannibalization of other Apple products, especially laptops. While this cannibalization is purely speculation at the present time, if it is actually happening, representatives at Apple do not seem to be worried. In fact, some are embracing the cannibalization, for they feel that it is simply a sign of the iPad's appeal and quality.
The possible cannibalization by the iPad has been debated by industry analysts since the product was released in April of last year. Some analysts believed that the iPad would cannibalize netbook sales, while others said it would cut into sales of mainstream laptops. Many feel that it is still to early to tell if other devices are being negatively impacted by the iPad's presence. Tim Cook, chief operating officer at Apple, relayed his thoughts on the topic this week during an earnings call with analysts. “Was there any cannibalization by iPad? Honestly, I don't know for sure. But yes, I think there's some cannibalization.”
Cook's theory has some statistical ground to stand on. During the final quarter of 2010, 7.3 million iPads were sold. That figure almost doubles the amount of Macs sold during the same period and is 2.5 times the amount of Mac laptops sold. One would have to think that in some of those purchases, consumers had to make a choice between the iPad, Mac, or Mac laptop. Another hint at cannibalization comes from the fact that iPad sales grew for several months after the product's debut, while netbook sales declined simultaneously.
While the iPad's sales numbers trump the ones of Apple's laptops and desktops, those products have seen plenty of success as of late. In the last quarter, sales of the MacBook line have increased 37 percent over 2009, partly due to the release of the MacBook Air in October. Combined sales of Apple's laptops and desktops grew 23 percent over the previous year, which was nearly eight times the computer industry's overall projected growth average. These positive numbers are leading many to believe that the iPad is creating a positive halo effect for the brand's other products. Regarding the spike in Apple's other computing devices, Cook stated, “If this is cannibalization, it feels pretty good.”
The halo effect was first touched on last May, one month after the iPad's release. Many analysts saw a surge in Mac sales, and this was attributed to the iPad's positive reception from the public. As consumers went into Apple retail stores to take a look at the iPad, many left with a Mac laptop instead.
According to Cook, cannibalization is not a worry for Apple. "Honestly, cannibalization is not something that we are spending one minute on here," Cook said. "The iPad teams are building the best iPad for the future, and the Mac teams are building the best Mac, and I can tell you that both groups believe that they can continue to grow."
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