Retail divided over iPad potential

UK games retailers have mixed feelings towards Apple’s new iPad.

The device was revealed last week after months of speculation and is due for launch early next month. Senior execs at Gameloft and EA presented new games for the device at its unveiling.

Already, some UK retailers have confirmed plans to stock the device – with the likes of GAME for one already promoting its upcoming release online.

It’s always great to see another format hit the market where publishers and developers can create new content for consumers,” The Hut’s product marketing manager Sarah Jasper told MCV.

When and if stock becomes available, The Hut Group would definitely be excited about stocking this.”

Morrison’s gaming buyer Jon Biggs added: The iPad has promising potential across business, communication and entertainment and of course it’s part of what could possible be the most iconic family of products over the last ten years.

In terms of gaming it seems to hit a sweet spot of having a massive screen whilst retaining a large degree of portability due to its slim profile. It might not fit in your pocket but in the car or on the train it will deliver not only gaming but a raft of other features, which will make it a popular choice.”

Gaming is a major part of iPad’s proposition following the popularity of games on iPod Touch and iPhone.

At the time of writing, the top four grossing games on the Apple App Store are all major video game brands – Grand Theft Auto, Rock Band, Broken Sword and Call of Duty.

However, specialist retailers are cautious over the machine due to its digital-only nature – and slow sales of the last download-only console, PSPgo.

We do not see the iPad as the kind of product that we would welcome for our core customers,” said ShopTo CEO Igor Cipolletta. Once the unit is sold, we would have no further customer interaction or sales opportunities.

We still feel that, despite the relative successes of the iPhone and iPod Touch, the majority of gamers still prefer to purchase a physical product, that they can trade in or sell once finished with.

We were correct in our assumption that PSPgo would be a sales flop, both in terms of its price and in its method of delivery. The majority of the gaming community definitely doesn’t share the developers’ thoughts on downloads.”

Grainger Games is also not convinced the iPad is ideal for their customers.

After looking into the Apple iPad we can see that it is a great bit of kit, but it is not something that we will look to stock at this point,” said commercial director Chris Harwood.

Being an Apple product we have no doubt that it will sell well – it just does not fit our brand proposition at this point in time. Our expectations would be that this product will undergo a number of iterations until it becomes more mass-market. Perhaps then, with more gaming support, we would look to stock it.”

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