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A Sampling Plan to Survey the Early iPad Adopters Research Paper

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Updated: Feb 5th, 2022

The Appeal of the iPad

The Apple iPad does not officially go on sale until April. In keeping with the marketing hype – the January 27 launch reported breathlessly by the world’s media, applications developers coming on the iPad bandwagon, bloggers debating the functionality of the device, rumors about delays in shipping dates – Apple Inc. has confirmed accepting pre-orders at 5:30 am PT/ 8:30 am ET Friday, March 12 (O’Grady, 2010).

Officially, the iPad is Apple’s first tablet computer. Being a larger “form factor” (9.5 inches measured diagonally versus 3 ½ for the iPhone), users can view online magazines almost life-size. At $499, the iPad will be twice the price of the Kindle but offer superb value for bringing 32-bit color to portable readers. This is an excellent idea for viewing Web pages, photographs and video.

Apple breaks the tablet PC paradigm by limiting the input/output peripherals to wireless connections. In the beginning, the iPad will have just Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, thus sidestepping all the problems iPhones have connecting with the AT&T 3G network (Starrett, 2008).

The Likely Market for the iPad

At launch, four market segments are ripe prospects for the iPad: the Apple core of loyal users, current users of Kindle and other portable readers, those new to the portable reader market now swayed by the form factor, and consumers who simply like to appear “cool” no matter the cost.

Thirty-three years have elapsed since the Apple II made personal desktop computers a reality and a quarter of a century since the Macintosh showed consumers how easy a graphical interface could be to use. A whole generation has grown up loving the look and feel of Apple desktops and portables. While Apple Inc. never dominated the market because of its licensing proclivities and premium pricing, the company has retained a loyal core of users among students, teachers, and graphics designers in advertising, cinema, music, publishing, the arts, and fashion.

Waiting in the wings are the textbook publishers who would probably love to cut costs and publishing lead times if students had a large-format reader at last and one that could display graphics and pictures, as well. Students would not have to be weighed down by heavy backpacks.

The second and third potential customer segments could likely be attracted by the 9.5-inch form factor. The most numerous, Kindle users, might have been willing to wait for the much larger screen Amazon had promised but the entertainment and Net connectivity of the iPad are irresistible advantages. In turn, the third segment will trade up from mobile phones, just to view Web pages, newspapers and magazines in larger size.

The third and fourth potential market segments probably overlap in some degree, though there are likely fewer of the latter who do not mind paying hundreds of dollars more for the 3G and enhanced-memory versions of the iPad promised for later in the spring and summer. The fourth segments perennially want to be first with a device the average white-collar colleague cannot afford. This will especially hold true when Apple ships models with both Wi-Fi and 3G and as much as 64 gigabytes of memory for up to $829 in the spring (Grant, 2010).

Research Approaches

Quantifying market response and profiling early users of the iPad will likely require a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches, secondary and survey research. Initially, qualitative research employing individual depth interviews will be employed to investigate the primary benefits desired when buying the iPad and what products they switched from. This gives cues for advertising concept development, for future product development, and more refined market segmentation in future (Cooper & Schindler, 2006, p. 197). Secondary research employing content analysis on iPad-related blogs and forums will also permit a largely qualitative insight into early-adopter feedback and satisfaction with the product. Thirdly, survey research resting on structured face-to-face interviews will be employed to validate and refine the relative importance of the defined market segments (section II above).

A Sampling Plan

For the initial qualitative stage, unstructured Internet chat-based interviews or open-ended interviews posed in emailed questionnaires can be implemented with the earliest adopters, i.e. those who pre-ordered starting March 12, 2010. Assuming that the company gives access to the list (the entire universe), any systematic technique will yield a representative sample.

For content analysis on iPad-related blogs and forums, stratified sampling by selecting every other site in the 20 most popular and active should yield a representative sample.

Being meant to test the relative proportions of the four consumer segments hypothesized in section II above, survey research in the earliest stage of the iPad product life cycle will derive a purposive sample from among all those lined up outside an Apple store on the night of April 2 to be the first to buy their units in the morning. Since it is not feasible for the research team to draw a random sample from the universe of Apple stores globally, the study will use a convenience sample of the two largest stores in the biggest Apple markets: the one on 14th St. in New York City and the second in Stockton St., San Francisco.

References

Cooper, D. & Schindler, P. (2006).Business research methods (9th ed.). New York: Irwin McGraw-Hill.

Grant, K. B. (2010). Should you pre-order an iPad? SmarMoney.com/Yahoo Finance. Web.

O’Grady, J. D. (2010). iPad pre-orders begin at 5:30am PT, Friday. Web.

Starrett, C. (2008). iLounge.com-iPod and iPhone Buyer’s Guide. Web.

Tweney, D. F. (2009). Gadget Lab. Web.

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IvyPanda. "A Sampling Plan to Survey the Early iPad Adopters." February 5, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-sampling-plan-to-survey-the-early-ipad-adopters/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "A Sampling Plan to Survey the Early iPad Adopters." February 5, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-sampling-plan-to-survey-the-early-ipad-adopters/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'A Sampling Plan to Survey the Early iPad Adopters'. 5 February.

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