Did Apple iPad hype turn off buyers?

There’s more than one way to look at a before-and-after survey

Click to enalrge. Source: Retrevo

“The more people know about the iPad,” writes David Coursey in PC World, “the less they want to buy one.”

That’s how Coursey interprets the results of a survey published Friday by Retrevo, an online electronics marketplace that polls its 4 million users from time to time on a variety of topical issues.

“There was too much hoopla,” co-founder Manish Rathi told Computerworld. “When the product came out, more than half said ‘I don’t need it.'”

There’s no arguing about the hoopla, but the pie chart above is open to other interpretations, according to — of all places — the Kindle Review.

“The Retrevo analysis is completely wrong,” writes someone called “switch11” in an entry posted Saturday. Switch11 has issues with the sample (two different groups of 1,000 each), the number of questions (5 in the first, 4 in the second) and the order in which they were asked. But the basic problem, he or she writes, is Retrevo’s interpretation.

“They should be looking at the last two questions together i.e. ‘No, and not interested’ and ‘Yes, and not interested’. That would show that the number has gone from 61% to 70%. Not as huge of a jump as only showing 26% to 52%.

On the flip side the number of people likely to get an iPad jumped from 3% to 9%. That’s a huge jump.”

Below: the pie charts recast along the lines the Kindle Review suggests.

Click to enlarge. Data: Retrevo. Crude pie charts: PED

In these charts, the orange and red slices (61% before, 70% after) are market segments Apple (AAPL) can safely ignore. These people were never, ever going to buy an iPad.

However the dark green and light green slices, representing 30% of the sample in the “after” chart, make for a pretty fat target. Given how profitable Apple has found the roughly 9% of the U.S. PC market that buys Macs, there might be money to be made here after all.

Meanwhile, a survey published by Retrevo last October suggests that Apple did well to price the entry level iPad at $499. Among the PC owners who expressed interest in the rumored tablet, 64% they’d be willing to buy one if it cost less than $600. Mac users were less price-sensitive; nearly 60% said they would spend up to $800, and 41% said they’d go even higher.

Source: Retrevo

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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