The iPad is beginning to replace the iPod as a household's first Apple product, says market research firm NPD. The company released a new report on Thursday morning, its "Apple Ecosystem Study," which examines which kinds of users are buying which products and why. Given that the iPod is widely considered one of Apple's most successful and ubiquitous products, the fact that it's being eclipsed so soon by the iPad shows the iPad's strength among Apple's target demographic.
NPD acknowledges that the iPad is indeed popular among those who already own Apple products, but a quickly growing segment of households are making the iPad their first Apple device. More than a quarter of current iPad owners say the device is their first Apple product. That's still behind first-time iPod ownership—NPD says 69 percent of US households that own Apple products say the iPod was their first Apple product—but the firm says the iPad's trajectory shows that it may pass the iPod sooner than later.
"iPad sales are growing much faster than any other Apple product has this soon after launch," NPD Director of Industry Analysis Ben Arnold said in a statement.
Arnold's comment reinforces one that Apple CEO Tim Cook made earlier this week during Apple's second quarter conference call. Cook pointed out that Apple has sold 67 million iPads in the 24 months since the iPad's introduction. "It took us 24 years to sell that many Macs, 5 years to sell that many iPods, and 3 years to sell that many iPhones," he said. "iPad is a profound product and the breadth of it is incredible."
It's almost hard to imagine a world where iPads will be in as many hands as the iPod. But as one looks at Apple's recent unit sales figures, the iPad's trend line is starkly different from that of the iPod. The iPod has almost a 10-year head start on the iPad, but if the iPad continues to grow at its current rate, it will only be a matter of years before the iPod's total sales will play second fiddle to Apple's tablet.