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Consumers reluctant to spend above $700 for Apple tablet - study

While consumer interest in Apple's forthcoming tablet is high, a price north of $700 could turn off many potential buyers, a new survey has found.

The latest Retrevo Pulse Report found that most who responded — 70 percent — said a price point above $700 would prevent them from buying a tablet. The study was based on 500 randomly selected Retrevo users polled from Jan. 16 through Jan. 20, 2010.

Most analysts believe the tablet will sell for less than $1,000 when it is released this year. Wednesday, a report from The Wall Street Journal said Apple will portray the 10-inch touchscreen device as something that can be shared by the whole family.

Previously, investment firm Piper Jaffray had forecast an average selling price between $600 and $800 for the tablet. But following the Journal's alleged details, an analyst told AppleInsider that price point "may be a little low." Of course, the price could also be dramatically reduced if it were subsidized with a data plan from a wireless carrier.

Other details from the Retrevo survey: The most important feature for participants was battery life. Three-quarters of those who responded said they need the tablet to have long battery life if they are going to buy one. Coming in second, 39 percent said they needed 3G connectivity, while 28 percent said they wanted an e-book store with a large selection.

Conversely, 44 percent of respondents said they would not buy a tablet if it requires a monthly data plan. Another 34 percent said AT&T-only 3G connectivity would be a deal-breaker, and 22 percent said they wouldn't buy if there is a lack of e-books available.

Most users were also indifferent about what applications the tablet will run: 17 percent would like it to run iPhone software, while 18 percent want it to be Mac OS X compatible. A majority — 65 percent — said they don't care.

The most interesting potential feature to users was solar charging, with 39 percent of respondents choosing that option. Another 24 percent would like to have a camera for video conferencing, 22 percent are interested in WiMax or LTE 4G mobile broadband, and 19 percent would like to see two screens like a book.

Regardless of the price, consumer interest in the tablet is high. Another study from ChangeWave Research released Thursday found that 18 percent of consumers said they are "likely" to purchase Apple's unannounced touchscreen device.

But there again the price was key. While three-quarters of respondents said they would pay $500 or more for the device, the number dropped to 37 percent when the price was above $700.

ChangeWave compared the hype surrounding the impending tablet to Apple's switch to Intel processors. When consumers were asked in August 2005 if they were likely to purchase an Intel Mac from Apple, the results were identical.


"While this, in and of itself, doesn't guarantee success — and the product has yet to prove it'll live up to super-high consumer expectations — it does show the enormity of the Mac Tablet's potential to alter the dynamics of the PC market and related markets (e.g., e-reader/ e-book market)," the study said. "But the real impact won't be fully determined until consumers get to see it, feel it, test it and decide if the 'iSlate' is all it's chalked up to be."