Although no one is quite sure what will come out of Apple's announcement on Wednesday (the smart money favors some sort of tablet that looks like a super-sized iPhone), consumers are already weighing in on what they would like to see and what they might not pay for.
"The big question will be whether it will live up to the expectations, or if it's been overrated and overhyped," Andrew Eisner, director of content for consumer electronics shopping site Retrevo.com, tells Marketing Daily. "I think the big question will be whether it will be a Kindle killer."
Those expectations are already set pretty high. In mid-January, the company surveyed its customers about what qualities they were looking for in an Apple tablet. Overwhelmingly, consumers have already set a price expectation, with 70% saying they wouldn't pay more than $700 for the device. "They came back loud and clear that that was the threshold," Eisner says. "The question now is, are they going to bring out two versions -- a smaller one at a lower price point and another one with all the bells and whistles?"
That price point expectation could be important as Apple ran into pricing issues with the iPhone at launch. Initially, the phone was priced at $599, but the company shortly thereafter cut $200 off the price, angering many of its most loyal customers who paid a premium for the device.
At the same time, consumers also have high expectations for the new product's battery life. According to Retrevo, 75% of consumers said the tablet would need a battery life of more than six hours. Another issue: wireless coverage and pricing. According to the survey, 44% of respondents said they would not buy the Apple tablet if it required a monthly data plan (although 39% also said the device would have to have 3g or better connectivity), particularly if that plan was exclusive to the iPhone partner AT&T.
"Some people said it would be a deal killer if it were AT&T only," Eisner says. "At least with the Kindle, you don't have the insult to have to pay $30 a month for a data plan."
The top feature people would like on their dream tablet? Solar charging. According to the survey, 40% of women and 33% of men would like to see solar power available on the tablet (beating out features such as a video camera or 4G connectivity). While it's unlikely that such a feature will be included with the new tablet, such peripherals could come from third-party accessory developers.
Regardless of what consumers may be saying they want, Eisner notes the survey responses all came before Apple released any information about its tablet. If Apple truly does introduce a must-have product, people will find a reason to get one, he says. "I think you'll always find the early adopters and Apple fanatics will buy it no matter what price," he says.