The diminished iPad: Apple’s fault

“Something very strange is happening this week: there is an Apple event, and very few people – including myself – are particularly jazzed up about it,” Ben Thompson writes for stratechery. “Oh sure, I’ll watch it, and I hope I’m surprised, but there is very little in the rumor mill – a retina iMac, OS X Yosemite, and the iPad Air 2 – that is particularly noteworthy. If anything, it is that lack of noteworthiness that is the most noteworthy thing of all.”

“The question, though, is if the decline in the iPad’s fortunes is simply the natural order of things, Apple cannibalizing itself before others have the chance, or a missed opportunity,” Thompson writes. “I think that it’s all three.”

“I personally will always own an iPad simply because Paper on the iPad does something for me that no other Apple device does; this simply isn’t the case for nearly enough people,” Thompson writes. “This is Apple’s fault.”

Before commenting below, please read the full article – very highly recommendedhere.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “S. Mulji” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus: Changing the way I work in a big way – October 14, 2014
Open thread: Does iPhone 6 Plus kill iPad mini, iPad Air sales? – October 6, 2014

44 Comments

        1. Absolutely. The writer has some good points then he devolved into a ” most money equals best argument.

          Apple’s focus is to be the best. Not to sell the most items that end up on the trash pile each year. Apple’s is the market leader cause its products last and get passed down not thrown away.

          And if it’s GarageBand or angry birds, everyone has their favorites. That is what’s important.

    1. GarageBand is one of the few apps that shows the power of the iPad when developers take advantage of its capabilities. But that app is only essential to musicians or aspiring musicians. It isn’t essential for the mass market.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Apple made it. But this scenario might mean that the iPad gets relegated to a niche status;

      1. Education
      2. Key business verticals
      3. Creative professionals.
      4. Mainstream users who don’t need the full power of a PC / Mac

      1. I think the possibilities in retail consumer stores is immense, once it is realized how much it can help.

        Apple Store’s use the iPhone for the rather limited product line they sell. Restaurants are using the iPad.

        I can imagine that advance retail store use can benefit a sales person in answering questions from customers in a lot of ways. There is a long way to go yet.

        1. Agreed. What you basically said falls under my second point – key business verticals. Still relegates iPad to a potential niche product category.

          Almost every one needs a phone. And a lot of non-tablet / non-iPad users are happy with their laptops.

  1. So the article mostly says that there is iPad stagnation, and lays a big part of that on lack of killer apps on the iPad. Not really sure I agree with the premise of that.

    I think that we’re simply reaching maturity in the iPad market and can’t sustain exponential growth. The iPad 2/Ipad Mini is sufficient for a majority of iPad users I bet.

    1. Whenever an Apple product can’t sustain initial growth, it is immediately said to be a dying product and that it indicates Apple is in deep trouble. What happens with Apple products happens all the time to all products from every company under the sun. The pundits only make a big deal out of this with Apple. They’re quick to say that Apple is doing something wrong or not innovating fast enough to hold consumer’s interest.

      I swear I don’t know how people come to these conclusions. The iPad is an excellent consumer product and has a relatively long lifespan. Why would consumers necessarily need to buy new ones all the time if the older iPads serve them well? The news media is taking positive points and stupidly turning them into negative ones. I’d say it’s a little too soon for them to be talking about the death of the iPad.

      1. Yep. Pundits want to compare iPads to iPhones, which are often replaced every two years when people’s carrier contracts expire. That makes no sense, as an iPad is more like a compact computer than a smartphone. The correct comparison is to Mac/PC, which people tend to upgrade every 3-5 years.

        But then, that wouldn’t make for good clickbait, would it?

        ——RM

    2. I already own one iPad but am waiting to replace it with the new one I hope they announce today which will finally have touch ID and Siri. I haven’t downloaded any iPad apps for a while simply because many of the apps I use and love work well on both my iPhone and my iPad. Some of them could work BETTER if they were written with a separate stand alone version for iPad, but that is just the laziness of the app writers themselves and what Apple can do help this situation remains to be seen. We are just barely beginning to see the iPad make inroads into the Enterprise market. I saw a cash register recently made of a cash drawer and an iPad. I can only guess at what the world will look like when other business apps get rolling. Is the iPad dying? Hardly. When the various TV apps mature, the business apps mature, and the many other areas of the Apple ecosystem converge, we will look back on this article and laugh at it…iCal this one for sure…

  2. Fantastic article. For me, there is already a four device Apple world already (or will be very soon). From smallest to largest: 1) on my wrist (Apple Watch Sport), 2) in my Pocket (iPhone 6 Plus), 3) in my backpack (MacBook Retina), and on my wall (Apple TV). I have no need for a fifth Apple device in that mix – in fact the distinction between iPhones and iPads will soon go away entirely I think – there will only be various sizes of iPads, some with a cellular chip in them for phone calls, snd some without. Put another way, this iPodTouch/iPhone/iPad silliness will all soon go away, they are all the same thing – iPads – just with, or without, a cellular chip. And together they are just one quadrant of four – the other three being watch, keyboard computer, and tv.

    1. that might be fine for you but not all of us live out of a backpack..add a desktop iMac and i have all my bases covered.
      Ipad, ipad mini, iphone, pod, macbook air, and maybe a watch if its truly functional.

      I would love to see everything with a cellar chip

        1. For me: the Mac Pro(s), the iPad(s), and the iPhone, in that order. The room full of legacy machines & archaic software don’t really count in this survey, but they aren’t going anywhere (except to the Smithsonian, after I draw the short straw)

    2. I’d expect there will be a different set of four Apple devices for each of us. Only time will tell which Apple will retire or possibly morph into yet unannounced categories.

  3. And one correction to my post above – there already *is* a fifth device – in my car (CarPlay), so all the more reason there’s no need for a *sixth device* (essentially two iPads one smaller with phone and one larger without).

  4. My iPad will never be replaced by a phone, not even a 6+; that will replace the pad mini I had thought of buying, but the screen real estate of a standard iPad is just irreplaceable for me.
    When my current iPad needs replacing, it’ll be with the latest version.

    1. “When my current iPad needs replacing, it’ll be with the latest version.”

      Now that we know the iPad Mini 3 will have Touch ID, thats what i’m grabbing as soon as I can. Selling the iPad 3.

      Apple made the iPad so damn good.. that I didn’t feel the need to upgrade to the 4, tempted with the Air though. If the Air had Touch ID last year.. i’d have switched then.

      Not interested in the 6 Plus at all..
      iPhone 6 128gb
      iPad Mini 3 128gb with Touch ID
      13″ MBP (2010 with Hybrid 1TB SSHD, runs great but might be next up to replace)
      27″ iMac (2011 also with a new 2TB SSHD, 2-3 years before I think of replacement)

      I’m set with everything I need.
      Unless I can grab me a new Mac Pro, *then* i’d be really set.

  5. That was a well written artical, someone who thinks before they write. I believe that the IBM deal will be very helpful for the iPad. Once people see iPads in work environments then I believe they will take off. The iPad has some great pro uses that a computer or a phablet would not be good at. The iPad has been an early adaptor device so far. Now people need to see it as a pro device. Something more than a ereader, that Amazon wants everyone to believe that’s all their good for. Or a small laptop like Microsoft has been failing to sell for a decade. If IBM pulls this off the iPad sales will increase rapidly. If not it will be like the iPod, killed by the iPhone.

  6. Why isn’t it journalists fault because they don’t do enough or more accurate product reviews to guild buyers to the really good and deserving products including value ratings to factor in capabilities vs prices? Why does the author assume that consumers need to do their own testing?

  7. Yet another cafe intellectual tech blogger. I believe he is missing a big point. Instead of being myopically focused on the iPad, which is maturing, and thus EVOLVING, the author completely overlooks that the iPad’s greatest attribute has nothing to do with pixels, RAM or clock speed. To me, the greatest attribute of the iPad is what it allows a user and a software developer to do with it. Some examples that the oh-too-smart-for-his-own-pants-blogger fails to comprehend of what the iPad is changing:

    Publishing: I no longer buy dead tree books, magazines or newspapers. I buy them instead on – get ready – my iPad.
    Education: Kids no longer lug an armload of textbooks. They are now on their iPad.
    The Enterprise: This is just beginning. The next and future generations of the iPad will have the processing power of laptops. That, combined with more sophisticated apps and cloud services for the iPad mean that corporations will embrace the iPad with a vengeance. But a few months ago, the Apple-IBM alliance was announced. The seeds have been planted, and we will see the results of this in the next few years. Bloggers fail to understand this does not take place overnight. But rest assured, this will change. As cloud processing offers access to immense computing power on a mobile device like the iPad, and as the iPad itself becomes more powerful (via significant increases in computing power and software capabilities matching this), we will see the iPad become far more than a mere device for consuming.

    That is only the beginning. But the blogger was too caught up admiring his brilliance.

    Then there is iPay. And Apple Watch. We have yet to grasp their impact. But we will.

    Oh, and did I mention the living room and the house? Watch what the iPad, the iPhone and the next generation Apple TV can do when combined with Apple HomeKit. This is flying under the radar.

    And too, there is HealthKit. We have yet to see how this will be harnessed in earnest, and the impact this will have on a vast industry, and the role the iPad will have with healthcare.

    So, no. The iPad is a failure, because some cafe intellectual blogger deems it to be that way. The greater such pronouncements from a self-appointed pundit, the more wrong they will be.

    So prepare to be underwhelmed tomorrow. I will sit back and imagine what WILL be, and sooner than all of us will comprehend. It’s not the big jazzy announcements tomorrow that will have the greatest impact. It’s the seeds that Apple has been quietly planting for the past couple of years, seeds planted with little notice. Given a bit of time, a bit of water and sun, these seeds will sprout. And Apple trees will grow.

    Just wait. This will happen. It’s not the glossy hardware that matters. It’s what you and others will do with these products that will make for an amazing future.

    1. Exactly. All these. And personally I think we’ve all underestimated the significance of Apple’s efforts to make iOS code compatible with OSX. I think they’ll reinvent the hybrid soon, too, and humiliate MS further by taking that market also. 😉

  8. I think we have to remember that the hype about iPad came largely from commentators rather than Apple themselves, and I think Apple were surprised at the huge uptake.

    The iPad has limited appeal in the consumer market where, on the whole, the user interface is just not conducive to typing. It’s not so much the onscreen keyboard but the very clumsy touch interface which makes it very cumbersome to correct or edit typing.

    Where iPad shines is, as the author suggests, where specific apps utilise the iPad’s core strengths – and these apps are more likely to be developed in the commercial market – health being a good example, but also retail, restaurants, inventory management etc.

    I use my iPad to read the newspapers and MDN but little else. A lot of iPad apps are poorly executed and many are missing key features, which drives me back to my MacBook Air.

    Even the poor implementation of 1password on the iPad is a reason to use my Mac if I am going to need to log in.

    Safari is a pain on the iPad where opening in a new tab is somewhat hit and miss and performance is poor by comparison to my Mac Air.

    I left my iPad behind when I travelled overseas last month – taking my MacBook Air instead.

    I find I am using the iPad less. It’s hard to prop up on a table and heavy (even the iPad Air) to hold up after a while. I only ever use it in landscape mode.

    Will I replace the iPad? Maybe, but not in the near term.

    Could Apple do something to change my attitude? Possibly – but it’s hard to see what… I love my Mac and my iPhone but I am indifferent to my iPad. Better and more apps might do it – but which apps?

    1. Actually, I agree with this too. The typing issue for me has been key to limiting use. I still think there’s much innovation ahead, but they’ll have to get this straight for many purposes. Even Logitech’s great little keyboard isn’t enough just yet.

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