Survey: iPad users like their iPads more over time

A University of Missouri study finds that iPad user satisfaction increases over time

Technology trends and news by Faith Merino
July 11, 2011
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A toy is a toy, whether it’s a cool, flashy new gadget, or a Malibu Barbie.  Every toy follows a predictable pattern: you get it, it’s awesome for the first few days, you lose interest, and then you start noticing all the little things about that toy that irritate you (why can’t Barbie bend her damn knees?!).  Next thing you know, you have to replace your toy with something newer and flashier, and the toy life-cycle continues forever.  But has Apple broken the age-old pattern of toy- indifference?  A study released Monday by the University of Missouri seems to suggest as much.  The study specifically focused on the Apple iPad and found—surprisingly—that iPad users don’t get tired of the tablet.  In fact, user satisfaction actually increases the longer a person uses the device.

In a survey of 1,600 iPad owners last fall, 94% said they were either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their iPad, according to Roger Fidler, program director for digital publishing at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.  In a follow-up survey of 561 of the original 1,600 respondents interviewed, a full 70% said that they’re even more satisfied with their iPads now than they were last fall.

“It’s unusual for new technology devices,” Fidler said. “In most cases, satisfaction tends to drop off significantly after about 13 weeks. That clearly is not the trend with the iPad.”

Additionally, the study found that most iPad owners tend to use their iPads in their downtime, and when they want to relax.  For example, the majority of respondents (51%) said that they typically use their iPads between 8 pm and 11 pm, while another 37% said that they use their iPads most often in the early mornings, between 5 am and 8 am. And most are curling up with their iPads on the couch, in a comfy armchair, or in the bedroom.

This is because reading and catching up on the news are the most common activities iPad owners use their tablets for.  In the study, 51% of respondents said they use their iPads primarily to catch up on the news, while another 39% said they use their iPads to read eBooks.

So it makes sense that the most popular apps, according to the respondents, are all centered around reading.  The top ten apps that respondents said they use the most on their iPads include: Safari, Mail, New York Times, USA Today, AP News, Weather Central, Flipboard, Wall Street Journal, NEWS, and Kindle eReader.

“While the iPad is designed for consuming all kinds of media, it has become clear that leisure reading of news and features is very popular with owners,” said Fidler. “The iPad’s ultra-thin, lightweight nearly magazine-size screen is more conducive for reading than laptop computers and other mobile devices. The screen size seems to be one of the main reasons for its sustained user satisfaction.”


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