Kids want iPads, parents shudder

Jeff Bertolucci
25 November, 2010
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The iPad is the most desired tech item this holiday shopping season among US children aged 6 to 12. A new Nielsen survey shows that Apple’s bestselling tablet tops the wish list of US kids, edging out a computer and the iPod touch, which tied for second place.

For consumers aged 13 and up, the iPad is fourth on the list behind a computer (1st place), and a TV set and smartphone (non-iPhone), both of which are tied for second. The iPhone was eighth on the 13-plus wish list, ranking lower than less glamorous gadgetry such as a Blu-ray player (5th) and an e-reader (6th).

The Nielsen survey gauges consumers’ interest in buying tech products over the next six months.

Why would prepubescent consumers crave an expensive ($500 and up) tablet designed for a more mature audience? No doubt they’ve seen plenty of slick TV commercials for the iPad, which oozes telegenic charm. And it’s possible that their parents, older siblings, or relatives already use an iPad, in which case the youngsters may have some experience with the device. Or maybe the kids at school talk up the iPad as a cool gaming system.

Whatever the case, the question is whether cash-strapped parents will place a shiny new iPad under the Christmas tree. Except for the most well-to-do families, the answer is probably no. Most mums and dads would likely baulk at paying big bucks for a delicate electronic slate that might very well end up dusty and discarded beside a pile of Lego within weeks.

To be fair, older kids (10-12) could put the iPad to better use than those in the single digits. But $629 (for the cheapest model, mind you) is a luxury outlay, particularly when the iPod touch starts at $289 – and it’s tied for second on the kids’ wish list.

Cheaper holiday options? Well, the Nintendo DS/DSi/DS Lite was fourth in Nielsen’s kid survey, followed by the Sony PlayStation 3. Interestingly, Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360 motion sensor, which some analysts predict will be the hottest seller of the holiday season, was 14th on the list.

Microsoft, obviously, needs to do a better job of reaching out to the youngsters. After all, Kinect’s hands-free gaming experience seems like a natural for the 12-and-under crowd. Maybe a barrage of Saturday morning ads will boost Kinect’s kid cred?

While these results are for US kids, it’s probably a pretty similar story here. Let us know what you or your kids are hoping for this Christmas in the comments. Whatever happened to the simple pleasures of an Etch-A-Sketch?

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