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Despite reports that Apple's iPad is cannibalizing sales of notebook PCs, Apple partners say there's plenty of room in the market for both types of computing devices.
In a study released Thursday, market research firm Technology Business Research (TBR) found that a third of buyers replaced or will replace their PC with an iPad, and half use their iPad as their primary computing device. From these findings, TBR concludes that the tablet is a threat to displace many consumers' secondary PCs.
Earlier this week, Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn was quoted in The Wall Street Journal saying his company had seen iPad sales cannibalizing the traditional notebook market by as much as fifty percent.
However, TBR tempered its forecast by saying that most consumers will still own a PC over the next few years, but will increasingly leverage other devices, especially tablets, for portability and connectivity.
"Tablets will displace sales of consumers' secondary laptop PCs, while their primary PC will continue to maintain its role for tasks such as document creation, storing files and editing photographs," Ezra Gottheil, senior analyst at TBR, said in the report.
Though the report went on to say the tablet would establish itself in both consumer and business markets, Apple partners don't see cannibalization as a problem. In fact, they believe the iPad has helped revitalize a sluggish tablet market.
"As long as Apple continues to emphasize mobility, they tend to create new categories, to change the market," said Shane Spiess, president of Portland, Oregon-based Apple reseller MacForce. "No one cared about the tablet until the iPad came around."
Spiess acknowledged that some cannibalization may occur with low-end Macbooks, but added that "a lot of people we see buying the iPad already have Macbooks."
"The iPad will affect notebook sales, but not necessarily Apple notebook sales," said David Doyle, vice president of Vancouver-based Apple partner Simply Computing. "A lot of the people buying the iPad are first-time Mac users. I haven't seen a drop in Macbook sales and I don't see them ever replacing Macbooks."
"The iPad is often positioned for work, as well as being a consumer device. Our point-of sales system runs on a PC server, which we can also run on the iPad," Doyle said.
"You can give the iPad to kids and not worry about them erasing your data," Doyle said, "but when I really need to sit down to work I want a real computer. It's like how the toaster will never replace the oven. Its not threatening because you still want comfort of use."