A Blank Check for a Blank Slate?
January 23, 2010

A Blank Check for a Blank Slate?

Retrevo Pulse Report on the Apple Tablet
By Retrevo's Andrew Eisner

There is pretty strong consensus that we'll see a media device with a 10-inch touchscreen that runs iPhone apps or Mac OS apps. The big questions everyone is asking are will anyone actually want one of these devices and what will the content access model look like? We asked consumers all about a rumored Apple tablet including whether they thought they needed one and what features they wanted.
What's the Plan Steve?
A big question on everyone's mind is how much are tablet owners going to have to pay to access all that wonderful content like newspapers, magazines, digital books, TV shows and movies from the "i-Store" and how about just accessing the web using 3G? Will Apple invent a new business model for accessing content for a flat monthly subscription fee or possibly introduce an a la carte plan based on the content type? Apple might also simply use Kindle, pay as you go model with 3G connectivity included in the price of the device and the content?

When we asked consumers what would encourage or discourage them from buying an Apple tablet, the data or "content" plan came up on top.

In the study, over 39% of the respondents said 3G was needed to make them want to buy a tablet but more interestingly, 44% said they wouldn't buy a tablet if it required a monthly data plan. We wonder how many more monthly subscriptions consumers will tolerate. Will Apple innovate and offer more than one plan? Will they give away connectivity to sell books, music, TV shows, newspapers, and other content? Will they bundle a tablet data plan with an iPhone plan? Okay Steve, here's your chance to innovate with an irresistible offer or maybe two irresistible plans?

Who Would Have Thought…A Solar Charging Tablet?
Retrevo asked consumers what features they'd like to see on a tablet. Number one on the list was solar charging which beat out a forward looking video camera and 4G connectivity. We have to admit leaving your tablet on a sunny table to add battery life sounds attractive. Supporting the call for supplemental charging is the fact that when Retrevo asked consumers which features they needed most in a tablet, 75% of respondents wanted a battery life or more than 6 hours. Solar charging could help but don't get your hopes up.

What Women Really Want in a Tablet
eBook store
iPhone features
Solar charging
It looks like female tablet buyers are more literate than men with 38% rating an eBook store high on their must-have list compared to 25% of men. Women also expressed a stronger interest in seeing iPhone features on a tablet with 46% rating iPhone features high on the list compared to 35% of men. Women also indicated a stronger interest in solar charging with 40% of women wanting to see solar power on the tablet compared to only 33% of men.

Operating System Preference
We were surprised to see that consumers were equally divided between the iPhone OS and Mac OS (Snow Leopard) with most respondents saying they didn't care which OS the tablet ran. Naturally, iPhone owners expressed a preference for running iPhone apps over Mac apps by a 3:2 margin. We wonder if there will be some sort of emulation mode to enable cross platform operation.

How Much Will Consumers Pay for a Tablet?
When we asked consumers what price would discourage them from buying an Apple tablet, 70% of respondents said anything over $700 would be a deal killer. On the other hand, 30% appear to have the desire, deep pockets, and willingness to spend more than $700 which isn't bad.

What's a Tablet Anyway?
Retrevo found roughly half the respondents said they didn’t think they needed a tablet computer. Admittedly, participants in the study didn't have any idea what an Apple tablet was and how much one would cost except for what they might have read in the press so it didn't surprise us that roughly 30% of respondents said they wanted more information before they decided one way or the other. Even now though, it looks like there are plenty of tablet buyers ready to plunk down the $700, rumored price to be among the first tablet owners.