This is a fascinating little stat that echoes a few anecdotal statements I've heard before. Nielsenwire is claiming that a full 32% of iPad owners have never actually downloaded an app on the device, with another 5% only downloading free apps. That's a pretty crazy figure when you think about it -- with all of the functionality offered by third-party software on the iPad, almost a third of users have never, ever taken advantage of any of it. And I've heard similar things from developers in the past -- that a surprising amount of their users have either never downloaded an app on their iPhones at all, or have only ever downloaded free, jailbroken, or pirated apps.
With the news yesterday of the Mac App Store coming, you wonder if we'll start seeing this same thing happen on traditional computers -- lots of users who only stick with the default features, and never explore any farther into what their devices can do for them. In a way, it's disappointing that these folks aren't taking full advantage of what the iPad can actually do. But then again, it makes those customer satisfaction stats all the more impressive -- 91% of users love their iPads, and only 68% of them have downloaded apps for it. That 23% in the middle must be really easy to please.
Update, October 25th: If you agree that the 32% number sounds high, you're right -- Nielsen has updated their stats and said a big mistake was made. Turns out the number is much closer to 9%. Still significant, but not nearly as surprising. The original article above remains here for posterity.