It's no secret that Apple iPads and iPad 2s outsell rival tablet makers, but a new survey indicates that iPad users are the most satisfied among tablet users, a trait that poises to perpetuate Apple's lead.
When U.S. tablet owners were asked if they would recommend their tablet to friends and family by market researcher IHS, Apple users ranked the iPad an 8.8, higher than any of the 11 other brands in the survey.
More than 80 percent of Apple owners rated their tablet at 8 or higher, and fewer than 1 percent gave a rating of less than 5.
"Apple's competitors in the tablet market already are facing major challenges in offering products that can match the iPad's combination of optimized hardware, software, operating system, applications, content and app store," said Rhoda Alexander, director of monitor and tablet research at IHS.
"Now they are facing the reality that consumers in the key U.S. market really love their iPads, with owners expressing satisfaction with Apple's products in a variety of key measures. "
Apple boosted production of the iPad during its third quarter and "sold every iPad we could make," according to CFO Peter Oppenheimer, adding that the company hit 9.52 million units in the quarter.
Apple ended the quarter with a little over 1 million units of the iPad in inventory, below the company's target range of 4 to 6 weeks of inventory.
COO Tim Cook said Apple is confident in the appeal of its products given the wealth of the applications in its App Store and its relationship with developers in general.
"It also doesn't appear that the other tablets are getting any traction to speak of," said Cook, and he may be right.
Motorola said last week that shipments of its "Xoom" tablet computer will be lower in the current quarter than the 440,000 units shipped last quarter. It expects to move just 1.5 million tablets for the full year, a far-cry from 9 million iPads move d just last quarter.
Blackberry maker Research in Motion cut its Playbook tablet shipment estimates to 2.5 million from 3.6 million for the entire year.
And it doesn't appear that these dynamics will change, according to the IHS survey.
A full 61 percent of the U.S. owners surveyed said they would stick to the same brand for their next tablet purchase. More than half of owners indicated that they were considering a purchase, planning a purchase or would definitely purchase another tablet during the next 12 months.
The findings suggest that Apple will maintain its lead into the conceivable future.
"With the iPad dominating tablet sales in the United States and worldwide, this high level of consumer satisfaction commanded by Apple represents a major barrier to entry for new competitors," IHS said.