J.D. Power: 2017 tablet buyers report "outstanding" satisfaction, ready to spend money on ...

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In a followup conversation to clarify the firm's recently reported findings on U.S. tablet buyers, J.D. Power highlighted a series of data points that overturn many established narratives on the "beleaguerment" of the tablet market, particularly with regard to premium-priced, higher-end models.

iPad Pro

The advertised takeaway was statically insignificant

While much media attention covering the firm's 2017 tablet survey focused on the higher overall score of Microsoft's Surface compared to Apple's range of iPad offerings, the scores were actually "not statistically different," according to Jeff Conklin, J.D. Power's vice president of service industries.

In fact, the user satisfaction scores supplied by the study's more than 2,200 participants--selected from households that had purchased a new tablet device over the past year--overwhelmingly expressed high satisfaction with their tablets across the board.

The scores, based on a 1,000 point scale of various rankings--from a dissatisfied 1 to an average 5 to a perfect 10--ranged between 85.5 percent for Microsoft to 84.9 percent for Apple to a still very high 81.2 percent for seventh-place Asus, the lowest-ranking tablet vendor included in the results.

Surprise: tablets are "really delighting customers"

"The scores are outstanding," Conklin noted in a conference call the firm arranged with AppleInsider. The reported U.S. consumer sentiment indicates that tablets in general are "really delighting customers," at least among the leading brands included in the survey results. Rather than low pricing, consumer satisfaction correlated higher with compelling features, including performance, ease of use and style and design

That's a far cry from the tablet doom that has become gospel among much of the tech media ever since sales of tablets began falling significantly from peak shipments reached around 2014.

Two common reasons often citied for the drop in overall tablets sales is their longer replacement cycle compared to smartphones (which buyers are typically incentivized to replace by carriers every two years), as well as the competition for attention asserted by the expanding category of large screen smartphones, which apparently began to quell new tablet demand for the first time since iPad appeared in 2010.

Tablet satisfaction connected to higher priced models

The J.D. Power survey also contradicted another commonly held idea about the future of the tablet market: rather than low pricing, consumer satisfaction correlated higher with compelling features, including performance, ease of use and style and design.

That's an endorsement of what Apple's been focusing on all along, even as Android vendors have debuted a series tablets with amazingly low prices. Google in particular reached downward to deliver very low prices for Nexus 7, without delighting users. It has since ratcheted its prices up in an abandonment of cheap tablets with its latest Pixel C, initially priced at $599.

Microsoft similarly dropped its entry-level Surface RT lineup to focus on its Surface Pro and even more expensive laptops and desktop PC offerings. Surface Pro 4 now starts at $799 and goes up to $1699, the same price range of Apple's most expensive 12.9 inch iPad Pro tablet and entry level MacBook Pro notebooks.




Consumers' apparent insensitivity to price as a factor in tablet buying decisions appears to be evolving. As we noted in our initial report, J.D. Power initially ranked iPads highest on the basis of features back in 2012, but in 2013 gave Samsung an overall top score based solely on its pricing, despite Galaxy Tabs earning much lower scores in terms of performance, ease of use, physical design and tablet features. The top score again passed to iPad in 2014, and was shared between Apple and Samsung in 2015.

Last year, iPad effectively tied with Surface as hybrid tablets climbed up its rankings. J.D. Power noted that overall, "satisfaction is 11 points higher for hybrid tablets, compared with non-hybrid devices (827 vs. 816, respectively)," despite also pointing out that consumers paid premium for hybrids: "the average customer-reported price paid for a hybrid tablet is $444, compared with $277 for a non-hybrid tablet."

Apple's cheaper iPads are as satisfying as Surface Pros at twice the price

This year's publicly published J.D. Power tablet survey results don't differentiate between buyers of basic entry-level tablets and those who opted to buy a more complex and much more expensive product. Instead, it again only presented a composite score for each vendor. More detailed information is available to paid subscribers of the study.

Unlike Microsoft, Apple also sells a smaller 7.9 iPad Pro tablet starting at $599 and a range of standard iPads priced from $329 (for the new 9.7 inch A9-powered 2017 iPad).




Asked about the wide product mix and how that might affect the public overall score given to each tablet maker, J.D. Power staff said they were "not sure."

However, given the overall correlation between higher prices and user satisfaction, it appears Apple's score--covering a far wider product range of much cheaper iPads--compares very favorably to the "statically not different" score Surface buyers reported on systems that begin at twice the price of Apple's basic iPad.

Asked whether the company "accepts any funding from companies involved in its reports," J.D. Power stated it did not. Client firms can subscribe to the full reports of its data gathered.

What is J.D. Power comparing?

Conklin described the intent of the firm's report as detailing the features and factors that drive consumer satisfaction in tablet purchases. The study involves interviewing consumers who have bought a new tablet, and looking at how they bought it, the process of getting it up and running and how they feel about factors ranging from performance to features to styling.

Because each study participant selected their purchase based on their own criteria (their personal budget and the desired features that are important to them), the study doesn't really compare users' satisfaction across a range of brands, but rather only their feelings about what they personally wanted (and ultimately chose) to buy.

One difference among the consumer groups highlighted by Conklin was that while both iPad and Surface buyers reported virtually identical sets of needs from their tablets (including browsing the Internet, email, social media and watching videos), Surface buyers specifically noted "word processing" as a top function, while iPad users did not.

Apple includes basic word processing features in its bundled, iCloud-synced Notes app, and also provides more comprehensive word processing and page layout tools in Pages, which it offers as a free download to new iPad buyers. Microsoft also provides Word (and other Office apps) for iPad, among many other App Store options for word processing.The users buying different tablets in the study were also notably different in character

The fact that Surface buyers are specifically thinking about "word processing" as an important tablet feature in 2017 suggests that those looking to buy Microsoft's machine have a generally different concept of computing--perhaps a Windows mindset--than people looking to buy an iPad.

The users buying different tablets in the study were also notably different in character. Conklin said iPad buyers in the study had an average age of 50, while Surface buyers reported an average age of 42. That younger survey sample also regarded themselves as being on the early edge of technology adoption more commonly than the iPad buyers in the survey.

Apple executives have remarked that iPad particularly appeals to young children and older adults, both outside of the typical market seeking conventional PCs.

Tablet takeaways

While details of the J.D. Power tablet survey seem to raise as many questions as they answer, it appears to indicate that among U.S. buyers, name brand tablets of all kinds are broadly, highly satisfying to buyers who pick them.

It doesn't attempt to answer the question of whether users overall seem more satisfied by basic tablets compared to more powerful--but also more complex--conventional notebooks.

However, it does shed light on the fact that the very population that sees hybrid 2-in-1 tablets as necessary to handle their work load reports a level of satisfaction that's not statistically different from buyers who opted to go with an iPad, while most certainly spending far less to do so.

On the other hand, it also doesn't directly contrast Microsoft's Surface Pro with either Apple's similarly sized iPad Pro or its MacBook line that Microsoft would like to be compared against (as it has in its own advertising since 2014, below).

Microsoft has invited Surface compariisons with MacBooks, not iPads


In January, Apple's chief executive Tim Cook noted in the company's quarterly earnings call that "recent data from NPD indicates that iPad had 85 percent share of the U.S. market for tablets priced above $200."

Those numbers may not include sales of Microsoft Surface, which is often regarded as distinct from "tablets." It does however, indicate that Apple has nailed down the vast majority of the market for premium tablets.

iPad users have previously reported very high satisfaction with their purchases. Cook added that "in November, 451 Research measured a 94 percent consumer satisfaction rate for iPad Mini, a 97 percent rate for iPad Air, and 96 percent for iPad Pro."

While based on totally different criteria and methodology, the findings of 451 Research align with the "outstanding" levels of satisfaction that J.D. Power found across U.S. tablet buyers in their first year.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 1,621moderator
    The Windows mindset, which I was a victim of until I bought my first MacBook back in 2010, contains within it a certain acceptance of periodic frustration with one's computing device.  You just know the thing is going to degrade in performance over time, catch a virus, or trip you up in some manner.  And for sure the vast majority of Surface buyers come from the Windows camp.  So the expectations coming in are likely lower than those of a Mac or iPhone owner buying an iPad.  

    If Surface with Windows 10 finally delivers its users a stable and smooth experience (it might, I don't know), then for sure its users, many having come from the darker days of Windows history, are going to be delighted.  I'd expect even more distance between the 85.5% versus 84.9% reported by the survey.  That there's not a bigger gap suggests the iPad, even in context of a user base grown used to excellence in fit, finish, design and UX, are still able to be highly delighted by the Apple experience.  That says a lot.
    DilirXGeorgeBMacwlymuktechiepscooter63Nameo_watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 32
    The Windows mindset [snip] contains within it a certain acceptance of periodic frustration with one's computing device. [snip]
    I know a few people for whom a computer has to be permanently battled with and conquered, before they will consider it a "real" computer and not a mere toy. For them, considering using Apple's gear is just ridiculous.
    pscooter63watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 32
    The Windows mindset [snip] contains within it a certain acceptance of periodic frustration with one's computing device. [snip]
    I know a few people for whom a computer has to be permanently battled with and conquered, before they will consider it a "real" computer and not a mere toy. For them, considering using Apple's gear is just ridiculous.
    I find the the ways of considering what's a computer of the few people you mentioned, weird. 
    edited April 7 radarthekatjimtjony0
  • Reply 4 of 32
    frugalityfrugality Posts: 407member
    Choir, preached to.
    iqatedo
  • Reply 5 of 32
    frugalityfrugality Posts: 407member
    I enjoy reading these articles for their fair and balanced reporting.
    retrogustoSpamSandwich
  • Reply 6 of 32
    "Apple's cheaper iPads are as satisfying as Surface Pros at twice the price"

    See this is why no-one besides AI can take DED serious - the new iPad was just released a week or so ago, so how can he already draw those conclusions? No research or JD Power survey has these in it.
    As said before, DED is doing this site a massive disservice with his factually wrong and overly biased articles. 
    edited April 8 SpamSandwich
  • Reply 7 of 32
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 229member
    It will be interesting to see what Apple will do with 64-bit only iOS 11 in regards to iPad. What new features they introduce to wow iPad 4 and older users to upgrade their HW.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 32
    "Apple's cheaper iPads are as satisfying as Surface Pros at twice the price"

    See this is why no-one besides AI can take DED serious - the new iPad was just released a week or so ago, so how can he already draw those conclusions? No research or JD Power survey has these in it.
    As said before, DED is doing this site a massive disservice with his factually wrong and overly biased articles. 
    No, it is your assumption that he was speaking of the new IPad that is wrong...
    wlymration alwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 32
    "Apple also sells a smaller 7.9 iPad Pro tablet starting at $599 "
     Perhaps you meant to say "9.7 iPad Pro"?

    Also:  While I generally agree with this article, I find it disturbing that Microsoft could be mentioned in the same breath as Apple when it comes to quality and user satisfaction...  Either Microsoft is (finally) doing something right -- or Apple is doing something wrong...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 32
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 4,702member
    frugality said:
    I enjoy reading these articles for their fair and balanced reporting.
    I don’t know if your comment is sarcasm (probably is) but this article does indeed present a counterargument to the “J.D. POWER SAYS PEOPLE LOVE THE SURFACE BETTER THAN THE IPAD!!!!!!!” clickbait headline making its way around the blogosphere. 
    edited April 8 wlymretrogustoGeorgeBMacStrangeDayspscooter63Nameo_jimtwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 11 of 32
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,544member
    Either Microsoft is (finally) doing something right -- or Apple is doing something wrong...
    It's both
  • Reply 12 of 32
    It really comes down to the use case for the purchase. The iPad in any form is not really a true "work" device. The lack of a mouse is really an issue here as well as the lack of floating windows for simple multi-tasking. In addition, several work related web apps that spawn multiple windows and rely on certain runtimes just don't work in Safari or even Chrome for iOS. At the same time, the Surface is not a tablet for leisure. The Windows Store is atrocious, the lack of entertaining games is immense and even simple news apps are usually broken. I would imagine someone looking for an ultra-portable Windows device that emphasizes the ability to do work would love the Surface. However, it is highly unlikely that someone who buys a Surface because they think it is a true media consumption tablet will be satisfied with it. The use cases are completely different and are not, pardon the pun, apples to apples comparison. 
    waverboy
  • Reply 13 of 32
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 581member
    It really comes down to the use case for the purchase. The iPad in any form is not really a true "work" device. The lack of a mouse is really an issue here as well as the lack of floating windows for simple multi-tasking. In addition, several work related web apps that spawn multiple windows and rely on certain runtimes just don't work in Safari or even Chrome for iOS. At the same time, the Surface is not a tablet for leisure. The Windows Store is atrocious, the lack of entertaining games is immense and even simple news apps are usually broken. I would imagine someone looking for an ultra-portable Windows device that emphasizes the ability to do work would love the Surface. However, it is highly unlikely that someone who buys a Surface because they think it is a true media consumption tablet will be satisfied with it. The use cases are completely different and are not, pardon the pun, apples to apples comparison. 
    That was well said!  VERY well said!
    So much of user satisfaction depends on both user expectation as well as the suitability of the device for the intended purpose.
    ...   "This 40 foot semi really sucks!   It won't even fit in the parking space at my supermarket -- and they told me it could haul almost anything"

    I am hopeful that Apple will find the way(s) to expand the IPad line to make them more work-friendly.   I believe that is their intent:  They created a Pro line, added a keyboard and bill it as a laptop competitor.  That shows they're looking at it hard...   And, the fact that the Apple's A10 and Intel's Core M processors are about equivalent shows that it can be done.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 32
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 1,356member
    "Apple's cheaper iPads are as satisfying as Surface Pros at twice the price"

    See this is why no-one besides AI can take DED serious - the new iPad was just released a week or so ago, so how can he already draw those conclusions? No research or JD Power survey has these in it.
    As said before, DED is doing this site a massive disservice with his factually wrong and overly biased articles. 
    Why don't you write a letter to the editor?
    lkruppanton zuykovwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 32
    gsrenniegsrennie Posts: 15member

    There are several problems, as I see it, with the J.D. Power survey, and DED certainly got at some of them. The big one is what really is being compared? The satisfaction level of Microsoft Surface Pro buyers with the satisfaction level of IPad buyers generally? That doesn’t make much sense, right off the bat. It seems to me the Surface Pro and iPad Pro are very comparable products, so narrowing the survey to those who purchased one or the other might shed some insights into the merits of either product. When you are not comparing buyer experiences with similar products, I think you are just wasting your time with the survey and our time reading about it. The other big problem is getting separate sales figures for the Microsoft Surface and iPad Pros. Those would tell us how the market generally has reacted to the strengths and weakness of both products. But, as far as I know, Apple has never provided a breakdown on iPad Pro sales and I don’t know if any analysts’ guesses are worth considering. I don't know how much companies pay for these kinds of surveys, but I wouldn't spend a dime on this one myself. The bottom line result seems to be people who buy high-end, expensive tablets really like them. Gee, what a surprise. 

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 32
    I'm currently using an iPad mini w/ a Logitech KB, (my '09 MBP screen is bad). While not the ideal size, I've getting used to iOS Pages, Notes, texts, emails, etc., to do my everyday workflow.

    The documents I use daily only require me to change the day and title of the heading. I.e., not a lot of typing/modifying. The somewhat complex documents were created on my MBP. I don't think I would like designing them on the Mini.

    I'm definitely considering the new iPad for $300 but don't like the absence of the rose gold color option or having a third-party KB. The iPad Pro has the rose gold and Apple KB but at more than twice the price. I may end up going w/ a rose gold MacBook at 4 times the price of the iPad, twice the price of the iPad Pro. Ugh!

    But at least it would be rose gold! :)
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 17 of 32
    DanielEranDanielEran Posts: 110editor
    "Apple's cheaper iPads are as satisfying as Surface Pros at twice the price"

    See this is why no-one besides AI can take DED serious - the new iPad was just released a week or so ago, so how can he already draw those conclusions? No research or JD Power survey has these in it.
    As said before, DED is doing this site a massive disservice with his factually wrong and overly biased articles. 
    There is no comparison of a specific model (such as the new 2017 IPad) here. It was not even out when the survey was taken. But (and this next part is important)... Entry model iPads had previously been cheaper. Remember?

    The point is: this comparison of the "user reported satisfaction" across the entire $300-1200 range of iPads vs $800-$1600 Surface Pros is flawed, but also indicated that everything else being said about tablets is also not in sync with what buyers themselves think. 


    pscooter63ration alradarthekatStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 32
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 581member
    I'm currently using an iPad mini w/ a Logitech KB, (my '09 MBP screen is bad). While not the ideal size, I've getting used to iOS Pages, Notes, texts, emails, etc., to do my everyday workflow.

    The documents I use daily only require me to change the day and title of the heading. I.e., not a lot of typing/modifying. The somewhat complex documents were created on my MBP. I don't think I would like designing them on the Mini.

    I'm definitely considering the new iPad for $300 but don't like the absence of the rose gold color option or having a third-party KB. The iPad Pro has the rose gold and Apple KB but at more than twice the price. I may end up going w/ a rose gold MacBook at 4 times the price of the iPad, twice the price of the iPad Pro. Ugh!

    But at least it would be rose gold!
    Or, you could paint the damn thing -- and use what you save to buy an IPhone 8 this fall    :)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 32
    danvmdanvm Posts: 371member
    "Apple's cheaper iPads are as satisfying as Surface Pros at twice the price"

    See this is why no-one besides AI can take DED serious - the new iPad was just released a week or so ago, so how can he already draw those conclusions? No research or JD Power survey has these in it.
    As said before, DED is doing this site a massive disservice with his factually wrong and overly biased articles. 
    There is no comparison of a specific model (such as the new 2017 IPad) here. It was not even out when the survey was taken. But (and this next part is important)... Entry model iPads had previously been cheaper. Remember?

    The point is: this comparison of the "user reported satisfaction" across the entire $300-1200 range of iPads vs $800-$1600 Surface Pros is flawed, but also indicated that everything else being said about tablets is also not in sync with what buyers themselves think.
    There is other point from the study: There are people who are pleased with the "toaster/fridge" device.  Years ago, you had an article where Cook said,

    "You wouldn't want to put these things together because you end up compromising in both and not pleasing either user."
    http://appleinsider.com/articles/12/04/24/tim_cook_says_windows_8_style_tablet_pc_convergence_wont_please_anyone

    Looks like he was wrong, and now Microsoft (not Apple) is the one pushing innovation on the hardware with the Surface line, both in mobile and desktop.  Let's see how Apple respond in the next few years. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 20 of 32
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 584member
    It really comes down to the use case for the purchase. The iPad in any form is not really a true "work" device. The lack of a mouse is really an issue here as well as the lack of floating windows for simple multi-tasking. In addition, several work related web apps that spawn multiple windows and rely on certain runtimes just don't work in Safari or even Chrome for iOS. At the same time, the Surface is not a tablet for leisure. The Windows Store is atrocious, the lack of entertaining games is immense and even simple news apps are usually broken. I would imagine someone looking for an ultra-portable Windows device that emphasizes the ability to do work would love the Surface. However, it is highly unlikely that someone who buys a Surface because they think it is a true media consumption tablet will be satisfied with it. The use cases are completely different and are not, pardon the pun, apples to apples comparison. 
    The Surface Pro 4 is a device that's very appealing as an ultraBook laptop 80% of the time and using it as a media consumption tablet  the remaining 20%.   The iPad Pro will be better for that, but until the iPP gains mouse support for anything like wordprocessing it's going to fall short.  If you aren't an artist why would you get an iPad Pro over the new iPad.  To paraphrase  "Apple's cheaper iPad are just as satisfying as iPad Pro at twice the price".

    But there definitely is a Class of tablet applications that the iPad can do that windows doesn't touch - those apps designed for very mobile users.
    GeorgeBMac
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