PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. -- Apple iPad fans ready for a new tablet may want to get to stores early this morning.
Preorders through Apple sold out, but stores will have some stock other than preorders. Affiliated retailers like AT&T will have iPads as well. The county's Apple stores will be open at 8 a.m., and AT&T will open at 9.
Apple sold 15 million iPads in the December quarter of 2011, with a new version anticipated in the spring. Most of its competition is less than a year old, so the iPad is still the dominant tablet.
Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for The NPD Group, said its not about market share at this point, because the demand is growing "exponentially."
"Everything is growing," he said. "There's more choice in the market and more choice is not necessarily a bad thing."
Tablets and smartphones are growing in sales whereas most consumer electronics such as computers are declining.
The NPD Group charts the market and found that personal computers accounted for a fifth of the market with $28 billion in sales, but PC's market share is falling. Tablets and ereaders, on the other hand, nearly doubled sales from 2010 to 2011, accounting for $15 billion in sales.
And Apple is at the top of the tablet market and the leading consumer electronics brand for all its products.
There may be more choice, but Apple has loyal customers.
Online shopping channel dealnews surveyed its customers about tablet purchasing plans. It found 55 percent of iPad owner plan to upgrade to the new version.
Shane Bennett, who opened Palm Beach Macservice at the beginning of the year and is a certified Apple service provider, said he's still happy with his iPad2, which is only a year old.
"I don't look at my iPad and think it should have a sharper screen or work quicker," Bennett said.
But Apple fans who didn't upgrade with the iPad2 probably will be ready with this version, he said.
Among people who do not own a tablet, 78 percent who were surveyed planned to buy an iPad this year, the dealnews survey reported.
As Apple did with the iPhone, the company is offering prior models at reduced prices. That iPad2 is now only $399 for the bare bones version. Considering most other tablets are less expensive than the iPad, it broadens Apple's reach.
"They want more of their products available to more customers," Baker said.
The new focus is understandable, considering 40 percent of iPad owners have a household income of $100,000 or more, according to The NPD Group.
Recently, tablet purchases have gone more mainstream, instead of being concentrated with these older, wealthier "early adapters," NPD research showed. During the holiday season last year, tablet buyers were 50 percent more likely to have an income under $45,000 and a third more likely to be younger than 34.
YouReporter Tom Hall sent in a photo of himself after he purchased a new iPad from the AT&T store in Stuart.
Hall said there were only three people in line when the store opened.
WHERE TO BUY A NEW iPAD
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