“For the past four years, you might have regarded the iPad as a gadget whose time had come and gone. After several years of amazing growth, sales didn’t just flatten, they fell. Every single quarter, sales were lower than the previous year’s quarter,” Gene Steinberg writes for The Tech Night Owl. “But Apple persevered… even in the dark days, the iPad made plenty of money. No wonder Apple kept it going, and it does seem that the optimism is beginning to pay off.”

“I suspect things began to turn around for the iPad with the introduction of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro in 2015; it was clearly designed for productivity. The Apple Pencil accessory was clearly designed to ease the process of drawing on screen, but the combo, along with a 9.7-inch iPad Pro, failed to boost sales. Or maybe they kept sales from dropping further,” Steinberg writes. “So what did Apple do in 2017 to end the iPad sales drop? Was it all about promotion, compelling new models, or maybe — pricing?”

Apple's new 9.7-inch iPad, starting at just $329

Apple’s new 9.7-inch iPad, starting at just $329

 
“Earlier this year, amid expectations that a 10.5-inch iPad Pro was in the works, Apple quietly released a refreshed model, based on the 9.7-inch iPad Air. It had an A9 processor and other enhancements, giving it pretty decent benchmarks. It also strayed far from the usual price structure, starting at $329 for the 32GB model. Suddenly, millions of users of older iPads had a relatively inexpensive way to upgrade to something with most of the latest technologies,” Steinberg writes. “If the replacement cycle is finally here, it does mean that, each year, more people will want to buy new iPads, reflecting the rapid sales run-up for the first three years. I suppose we’ll see.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Along with price (See: $329 iPad), iOS 11 will fuel the iPad upgrade cycle.

As our own SteveJack remarked seconds after Apple’s Craig Federighi unveiled iOS 11’s new features (namely, Multi-Touch Drag and Drop, the new Dock, and the Files app):

Finally, the promise of iPad is realized.

And, we wrote back in February 2016:

Here’s the thing: The iPad saturated its addressable market so quickly and the iPads are so well made and last so damn long that unless Apple provides a really compelling reason to upgrade, most people are just not upgrading yet. We handed off our original iPads to relatives a couple years ago and they’re still being used! Yes, they lack sensors to support many modern iPad games, but they are still in use. We also have immediate family members still using perfectly working iPad 2, iPad 3, and older iPad Air and mini models. The obsolescence cycle for iPad rivals that of the Mac. It’s very long.

The iPad is not a niche product. It had unprecedented uptake and the devices have such long, useful lives that the replacement cycle still hasn’t really kicked in. When it does — and when the macroeconomy improves to the point where users can consider adding the joys of iPad to their computing lives — then we’ll see iPad unit sales growth again. In the meantime, Apple should redouble their efforts at improving iPad – adding Apple Pencil, Smart Connector, and multi-user support (to mention just three things) that will make the iPad even more appealing to buyers.

Also, as we wrote so presciently back in January:

iPads are too expensive relative to the perceived competition and Apple has obviously done a piss-poor job of marketing the iPad family (read: clearly explaining to the hoi polloi why they want an iPad over an Amazon or other Android tablet).

Sticker price is the biggest reason why iPad sales struggle to return to growth (the next biggest reason is that iPads’ useful lives last so damn long, they’re not rapidly replaced).

We would have purchased iPads for family members this year if they had been updated as they should have been for the holiday season and if the prices were a bit more palatable. Yes, we know what an iPad offers. Yes, we know they’re worth the money Apple’s asking for today; even being last year’s models. But, Apple should really do the math and consider making certain hardware more affordable in exchange for the backend revenue and increased mindshare and market share that will deliver.

SEE ALSO:
It turns out the iPad was just too expensive after all – August 2, 2017
With iOS 11, Apple’s iPad truly could be your next personal computer – July 28, 2017
Apple’s iOS 11 turns the iPad Pro into the only device your family needs – June 28, 2017
Apple’s iPad Pro is now a true photographer’s tool – June 26, 2017
10.5-inch iPad Pro: Back on an Apple computing device, but not in the form I anticipated – June 23, 2017
Apple’s powerful, new 10.5-inch iPad Pro is a typing champ – June 22, 2017
Apple’s iPad Pro and iOS 11 will finally kill the MacBook Air – June 21, 2017
How Apple’s iPad Pro’s 120Hz ProMotion technology works – and why it’s awesome! – June 21, 2017
Tim Bajarin: Apple’s iOS 11 finally brings Steve Jobs’ vision for the iPad to life – June 20, 2017
Macworld reviews Apple’s 10.5-inch iPad Pro: ‘If any iPad replaces the MacBook, it’s this one’
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

CNBC review: In the market for a new tablet? You should buy Apple’s new 10.5-inch iPad Pro – June 17, 2017
TechCrunch reviews new 10.5-inch iPad Pro: ‘Apple pays off its future-of-computing promise’ – June 14, 2017
Apple’s game-changing 12.9- and 10.5-inch iPad Pros arrive in stores – June 13, 2017
Jim Dalrymple reviews Apple’s new 10.5-inch iPad Pro: Highly recommended – June 12, 2017
LAPTOP reviews Apple’s new 10.5-inch iPad Pro: Amazingly fast performance beats most Windows laptops – June 12, 2017
Ars Technica reviews Apple’s 10.5-inch iPad Pro: Much more ‘pro’ than what it replaces – June 12, 2017
These go to 11: Apple makes iOS more Mac-like and iPad’s promise is finally realized – June 9, 2017