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Don't blame iPad for PC sales stagnation, says NPD

Dana Franklin

A new study released by the NPD Group on Tuesday suggests a recent decline in personal computer shipments can't be blamed on the iPad. NPD's results contradict conventional wisdom, which assumed shiny new gadgets like Apple's iPad were eroding the PC market.

According to NPD's figures, a significant majority of iPad owners never had plans to buy a PC. Only 14 percent of the study's "early adopters," or customers who bought the iPad more than six months ago, chose the Apple tablet instead of a personal computer. For the 2010 holiday quarter, just 12 percent of the surveyed iPad owners ditched intentions to buy a PC. According to Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, the iPad's cannibalization of the computer market continues to drop.

Last month, reports from Gartner Inc. and International Data Corp. (IDC) revealed the first decline in PC sales in six quarters. Many analysts leaped to the conclusion that Apple's iPad was chewing into the PC market.

Contrary to this popular belief, NPD's report suggests the iPad is simply adding billions of dollars in additional revenue for the technology sector. More than 75 percent of iPad owners told NPD they bought the device with no intention of buying anything else, dispelling the myth that Apple's tablet is significantly disrupting other technology markets. Instead, NPD suggests the PC market is seeing a cooling trend following a surge of sales related to the introduction of affordable netbooks and the release of Windows 7.

"The conventional wisdom that says tablet sales are eating into low-priced notebooks is most assuredly incorrect," says Baker. "The explosion of computer sales when Windows 7 launched, as well as the huge increase in netbook sales at that time, are much more to blame for weak consumer PC sales growth than the iPad."

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