Built to last: Why Apple selling fewer iPads is actually a huge achievement

“iPad sales are down, technically. Apple still sold 20 million of them last quarter, but Wall Street says a company like Apple is never supposed to sell less of anything,” Mark Wilson writes for Fast Company Design. “While iPad purchases are down, iPad usage is still superb. People are reading books, watching Netflix, and surfing the web on their tablets, which, sales figures aside, should be the most important indicator of whether a product is really a ‘hit.'”

“But the question looms—if people are using their iPads, why aren’t they replacing them as quickly as iPhones? The answer lies in the iPad’s design. You can call an iPad a big iPhone, but a big iPhone can last a customer a really long time,” Wilson writes. “Several years into owning the product, I’ve always got a few hours of charge in this thing, even when I haven’t charged it in a week or more… Plus, they’re just built like tanks. So two, three, four years into owning an iPad, it’s probably still in pretty good shape. Why replace it?”

“Tablets are a solved design problem,” Wilson writes. “Sales are a testament to the design’s longevity—a longevity that sits in some unknown expanse between the disposable iPhone and the immortal television, refrigerator, or trusty old pair of jeans. Apple will still sell tens of millions of iPads in 2015… Good design means something is used, not replaced.”

Read more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote on Tuesday:

The #1 reason why iPad sales have plateaued is because Apple builds iPads so damn well. Apple iPads last for years and years. We’ve handed down gen-1 iPads to pre-schoolers, years ago, and they’re still working just fine! Thrown around, walked on, dripped on, you name it – the iPad just keeps on ticking. The upgrade cycle for iPads is simply not going to match the cycle for subsidized phones on two-year contracts.

Related article:
No, Apple’s iPad hasn’t gone from massive to ‘meh’ in 5 short years – January 27, 2015


      1. Of course you hope it lasts as long as the original. What normal consumer wouldn’t. I never knew anyone who hoped their purchase would break in a short time just so they could buy another one. Only Wall Street would come up with such a ridiculous concept of building products with a shortened life-span so more product could be sold. Such an idea would never be for the consumer’s benefit. Only some greedy investor would think in those terms. If something breaks it breaks, but no honest company would build products to break prematurely. No company should be encouraged to do something like that.

    1. I can so relate. But I did eventually get the Air 2 (in champagne, I mean gold, of course) just right before Christmas because the first gen iPad wouldn’t allow me to install Oyster (the Netflix-for-books). Now, just like before, I find myself spending more time on my iPad than on my iPhone and MacBook Air.

  1. our first gen iPads are still being used by others. i left my second-newest iPad on my car roof last year and it went sailing off when i went around a corner. had a thin leather cover which was frayed a bit on one corner from the landing, but the iPad is still in great shape. so i have a brand new upstairs iPad and an older downstairs/take-with-me iPad for trips. they might never wear out.

  2. The article failed to note the early evolution of human adjustment to this new touchscreen technology. We are in the infancy of these uses.

    Initially for people, it is personal adjustments to one device, then another, then a bigger one.

    Then business introduces new apps, then healthcare and business use including your local restaurant & real estate agent.

    No one has a real good idea where tablet sizes will go within the next 5 years as we are all still learning.

  3. The BBC have pulled the plug on App support for Gen 1 iPads.
    Have no idea why.
    Many newer apps require more uptodate iOS than ver 5.

    Other than that most of the features still work. Battery life is still great.

      1. No No!! Bought the iPAD1 (2 of them) for my wife and I. Then my wife complained not enough space so bought a 64K iPad2 with cellular for her. Still not enough space so added a 128K Wifi only iPad2

        THEN she wanted an iPadAir and then there were 5!! All of them in great shape. Gave mine and here first two to a niece and our two grandkids. I took her 128K iPad 2 and she has, of course, the iPad Air (which BTW is really lighter the the others.

  4. We have four at the office and us two owners upgraded to the air leaving our two sales guys with generation 3 iPads ……

    Nice units but we just discovers they need to be replaced as we can’t do airdrop from their new iPhone 6 to their iPads like we can with generation 2 Air …..

    But those two iPads will get passed down ….. Our original generation ken iPads are still being used by employees who only want email and pandora and some web and pics, they work great and folks love them …..

    Apple also has best battery upgrade policy ….. $99 and you get new battery which will renew the life …..

    Final resting place is always as a screen viewer for pictures hooked up to power …. Will be interesting to see how king the processor lasts ….

    We have never had a Mac die in us and oldest we used was G3 as a server for FMP Server 3 and FMP 4 Client from 1997 or 1998 thru 2010 and the darn thing was still going!

  5. Let’s criticize and devalue Apple because they’re not selling enough iPads. Apple has failed because iPads aren’t useful enough for consumers to buy them every year. WTF! Let’s attack Apple’s credibility because they’ve saturated a consumer market with a long-lasting product.

    Wall Street would rather Apple sell junk that falls apart in a year in order to increase sales. What kind of mentality is that in a world of finite natural resources? Wall Street praises these companies selling junk Android tablets for under $100. Why? Because more people will buy them even if they’re not well-built. If they break, then those consumers will simply go out and buy another cheap Android tablet. That helps increase market share which is the only metric Wall Street is concerned with. Churn sales no matter how you do it. It’s really despicable to encourage businesses to do that. How is that really helping the consumer? That’s only encouraging waste.

    Why should consumers constantly buy something new if they’ve got a product that is older but is still perfectly useful to them? To criticize a company that builds good, long-lasting products is just criminal.

  6. As is intimated somewhat in the article: iPads are similar to MacBooks. If they’re still doing the computing job you require, why buy a new one? I kept using my previous MacBook for nearly 8 years.

    Whereas, the phone business is:
    1) Still evolving and innovating. The changes each couple of years are often profound.
    2) Driven by contracts that allow replacement phones with ever new contract.
    3) Affected by changes in cell technology, until lately anyway. At one point 3G was a big deal. Europe was enacting it and the USA was sitting on it’s butt. Then the USA caught up and even went to advanced 3G (falsely called ‘4G’ by marketing twits). That drove sales of new phones for faster data and better call quality. If the companies ever bother to enact actual 4G (aka LTE Advanced), that will drive another swap and sales rush.

  7. Though I would have to agree that iPads sell well, saying selling less is an achievement is hard to back up w/o numbers showing how many recent sales are replacement vs new. (e.g. people not invested in iOS end up purchasing other tablets resulting in lower sales in the past year)

  8. Yep, exactly. My ipad history.
    My ipad 1 is in the DR in a cousin’s had. ipad 2 is in sister ownership. one of my sons has the old ipad 3. Oldest son has the ipad 4.
    My wife and one of the daughter in laws have ipad air. I ended up with the ipad air 2.
    Yes, thats where all the ipads go.

  9. I’m still using an iPhone 4 because it still does everything I need it to. The battery lasts all day and the phone is rock solid. I see no reason to upgrade until it dies or falls too far behind in software updates.

    But then I’m in the minority.

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