A recent survey conducted by Nielsen suggests that this year's holiday season is shaping up to be a boom period for electronic-gear vendors -- with Apple's iPad at the top of many wish lists. Among American kids between six and 12 years old, for example, the iPad led the pack with a 31 percent interest score, followed by a new computer and Apple's iPod.
Older U.S. consumers appear to be a tad more interested in upgrading to a next-generation computer, TV set, or smartphone, Nielsen observed. Still, 18 percent of all U.S. respondents over the age of 13 also indicated an interest in buying Apple's red-hot tablet, although Blu-ray players and e-readers also appeared to have good traction with teens and adults.
"Given the continued pressure on consumer spending, it is difficult to know how robust a holiday season this will be for tech devices," Nielsen blogged in mid-November. "But this survey suggests the electronics aisle will be heavily traveled this season."
Netbooks Hotter Last Year
Industry watchers at the NPD Group recently noted that holiday-season purchases accounted for about 33 percent of total technology sales over the past three years, with revenue averaging $48 billion in the fourth quarter. This time around, interest in Apple's iPad is high among prospective shoppers of all ages, the research firm's analysts noted, with 11 percent of the respondents to NPD's survey saying they are likely to purchase one by February.
However, Nielsen said a new computer actually topped the shopping lists of 20 percent of all U.S. consumers 13 years of age and older. The response is a bit surprising, given that 97 percent of households already have a computer, according to NPD.
The research firm also noted that 58 percent of Windows PC owners already own two or more machines and 86 percent of Apple computer owners indicated the same. The average retail price of a notebook during the first nine months of 2010 was $663, while desktops averaged $724, the firm's analysts added.
Though netbooks were hot during 2009's holiday shopping season -- when sales accounted for 38 percent of netbook revenue for the entire year -- the low-priced computing devices seem to have lost much of their luster. NPD observed that if it were not for the success of Apple's iPad, sales in the combined tablet/mini-notebook segment would have fallen 13 percent in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in 2009.
Smartphones and Gaming
Nielsen indicated that 19 percent of U.S. consumers are interested in buying a non-iPhone smartphone in the next six months. Still, 13 percent of the respondents to Nielsen's survey indicated an interest in buying Apple's iconic mobile device between now and the end of April.
Interest in gaming platforms also remains high among U.S. consumers 13 and older. In Nielsen's survey, the Nintendo Wii led the field with a 15 percent score, followed by the Sony PlayStation 3 (13 percent) and Microsoft's Xbox 360 (9 percent). American gaming aficionados also expressed interest in the eight to nine percent range in acquiring one of the new motion peripherals now offered by Sony and Microsoft.
Among consumers who already own an iPad, NPD survey respondents said their usage increased over time -- growing from about 15 hours per week at the two-month mark to about 18 hours after three months and thereafter. Among those using the iPad outside the home, 37 percent said they used the device on trips and vacations, 21 percent at work, and seven percent while commuting.