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Initial iPad demand greater than iPhone’s

Given the years of speculation and hype that led up to its announcement, it’s not at all surprising that there is significant pent-up demand for Apple’s iPad. But that it exceeds demand estimates for the original iPhone, as a new survey from RBC/ChangeWave suggests, is a bit unexpected. The iPad is, after all, an entirely new device category between the laptop computer and the smartphone.

The survey of 3,200 people shows 13% are likely to buy the US$499 iPad. Initial interest in the iPhone was at 9% prior to launch in 2007. Perceived value for the cost is probably the deciding factor. Remember, the original iPhone was also $499. The iPad has obvious differences like size, resolution, a huge existing library of 3rd party apps and 16GB of memory (the $499 iPhone had only 4GB of storage). The iPad is also contract-free, something the iPhone can’t (officially) do in the US.

About iPad pricing, there is something interest appears strongest with both Entry-Level and Tech-Savvy Buyers: 19 percent of declared iPad buyers indicated interest in the $499 16GB WiFi-only iPad, and 19 percent in the $829 64GB 3G iPad.

Top planned uses for the device among both groups of buyers: Surfing the Internet (68 percent), checking e-mail (44 percent), and reading e-books (37 percent).

iPad pre-orders could begin as early as this week, but Apple doesn’t release those numbers. However, this report and the fact that some Norweigan retailers had to halt pre-orders because of the overwhelming demand bodes well for initial iPad sales.