iPad replacement cycle: Like an iPhone? Mac? Or (worse still) TV?

March 21, 2014: 8:22 AM ET

How customers buy and use iPads affects the device's long-term prospects, says CIRP.

Source: CIRP

Source: Consumer Intelligence Research Partners

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

FORTUNE -- For Apple (AAPL), the iPhone is a sale that keeps on giving -- at least in the U.S. Once a customer has bought one, he or she is likely to come back for another, usually within two years, when that contract expires.

The iPad is a like a big iPhone in some respects. The two devices share a huge library of apps and many usage patterns, particularly in terms of e-mail, Web surfing and game-playing (but not video watching).

In terms of how often they are traded in for a new model, however, and what happens to the old, they may be more like Macs (which tend to get replaced every 2-4 years) or, worse still, TVs (5-10 years).

These findings come from a new report by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, which surveyed 2,000 U.S. customers who purchased an iPhone, iPad or Mac in 2013.

Among its findings (see charts below):

  • Replacement: Eight out of ten lost or broken iPhones are replaced within two days. Owners of a broken Mac or iPad may not get to it for a week or more.
  • Recycling: iPad owners are more than twice as likely as iPhone owners to give their old tablets to a friend or family member.
  • First-time buyers: Only 1-2% of iPhone buyers purchase their very first phone. By contrast, the percentage of first-time iPad buyers was 78% in December 2013, down only slightly from 84% in March 2013.

"We think Apple would prefer the iPad become a big iPhone," the report concludes. "We suspect, though, based on recent CIRP data about how buyers use them, that it's as much like a Mac, TV, or iPod, with less frequent replacement."

More CIRP charts:

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