Apple’s iPad upgrade cycle is longer than most think, but eventually consumers will come back for more

“You’re probably familiar with the argument that Apple’s tablet business isn’t going so hot right now,” Evan Niu writes for The Motley Fool. “Unit sales have been steadily declining for a couple of years, leading to some pessimism and negative press. But the issue right now isn’t specific to Apple; it’s a categorical decline that we’re seeing. The broader tablet market is contracting, and the primary reason is that consumers haven’t yet voted with their wallets what an average upgrade cycle will be.”

“Investors now have more evidence that the tablet upgrade cycle is a little longer than you think,” Niu writes. “Earlier this month, right before the iPad Pro launched, Localytics released some estimates on the composition of the current iPad installed base. Localytics is a life-cycle engagement platform and looked at over 50 million iPads to derive its figures. According to Localytics, the iPad 2 remains the most popular iPad model out in the wild, representing 20% of all iPad models as of October 2015.”

“The encouraging thing here for Apple investors is that it’s incredibly unlikely that iPad owners will never upgrade their tablets again,” Niu writes. “It’s just taking a little bit longer than expected. But when those users are due for an upgrade, we know through history that they’re almost assured to buy another iPad as opposed to switching to another platform.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in July 2014:

iPads simply have a longer lifespan than some people expected. They are not smartphones. There is no driving need to replace them every 24 months or sooner. The length of the iPad replacement cycle is closer to a Mac’s than to an iPhone’s.

Built to last: Why Apple selling fewer iPads is actually a huge achievement – January 29, 2015
Built to last: Apple iPad’s useful life is twice as long as an Android tablet’s – August 4, 2014
No, iPad sales are not slumping – August 1, 2014
No, Apple’s iPad is not dead, it’s just resting – July 31, 2014
Why slowing iPad sales didn’t surprise Apple and shouldn’t surprise you – July 23, 2014
Apple’s iPad problem: They don’t wear out – May 20, 2014
Apple iPad sales are in deep trouble in 2014 or something – May 15, 2014
Apple’s iPad business isn’t collapsing, but the rest of the tablet industry sure is – May 5, 2014
Some desperately needed context surrounding Apple’s iPad sales decline – May 1, 2014
IDC: Apple iPad maintains lead in worldwide tablet market share – May 1, 2014
Apple iPad: Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated – April 24, 2014
Why fret about iPad numbers when there’s no such thing as the Android tablet? – April 23, 2014


  1. What problems Apple has…
    People can’t decide what to buy for Xmas:

    An iPad, an iPad Air, an iPad Mini, or an older, perfectly functioning iPad…
    OR: an iPhone 6s or 6s+
    OR: an iMac… 21″ or 27″ or a Macbook Pro or an Apple Watch, or and iPod Touch, or …


  2. Made a mistake and upgraded iPad2 to iOS9. Should have left it back at 7. It is slow and safari quits suddenly.

    I’d have loved to have bought a current iPad Air if Apple had at least upgraded the processor to A9.

    I don’t like buying last years technology at this years prices.

    1. It’s a problem for Apple that generations-old iPad hardware is still perfectly fine for most owners. I think iOS9 and 10 will take care of most of the iPad2 stragglers.

  3. I have a couple of iPad minis, an iPad 3, and iPad 3, and an iPad Air 2. I have found that iOS 9.1 works well on all of them, but the Air 2 is a vastly superior device. I believe we will see many updates this holiday season.

  4. I have an iPad 3 (first retina version – thicker and heavier than anything since, likely including the iPad Pro). It still works fine.
    The iPad 3 was released on April 3, 2010, and I bought one soon afterwards. I plan to continue using my iPad 3 at least until the release of the iPad Air 3. So, in my experience, the iPad upgrade cycle is ~6 years.

    I am still using my 24″ Intel iMac from mid-2007, so my Mac upgrade cycle is roughly 8 or 9 years.

    1. Just checked the specs on the iPad Pro. It is much thinner than the iPad 3 (6.9mm versus 9.4mm). Despite its much larger display, the iPad Pro is only 9% heavier than the iPad 3 (1.57 lb versus 1.44 lb).

      So, perhaps I should get an iPad Pro. After using an iPad 3 for years, the slight difference in weight would not bother me. In contrast, transitioning from an iPad Air 2 to the iPad Pro represents a 63.5% increase in weight. Of course, you get an incredible amount of power and display area for that additional weight!

  5. My upgrade cycle is every 3rd update. started with iPad 2, then got iPad Air, and was going to get iPad Air 4 when it got out…but with the iPad Pro I might have to rethink some stuff. So basically every 3 years…but if they update every 2 years…then i guess i would wait 4 years. doesn’t really matter, any iPad can last 4 years easily.

  6. MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2012)
    24″ iMac Early 2008 with SSD and 5GB of Ram (OWC)
    Runs Great. – as long as it runs the latest OS I keep going.
    iPad 2 – as long as it runs the latest OS I keep going.
    Just upgraded from an iPhone 4s to iPhone 6s Plus – I couldn’t help it. I needed the speed. 🙂
    1st and 3rd. Apple TV’s, many iPod’s, An old 500GB Time Capsule. Going to get new Apple TV, and 2nd. Gen. Apple Watch.

  7. The iPad refresh cycle could be longer than the Mac. Unlike iMacs the iPad already has no moving parts and very little heat generation. IPads are also very hand-me-down-able.

    This post is being written on a v1 iPad. I have looked at the new Pro but its not yet for me.

  8. I’m guessing next iPad will be the Air 3 and it will work with new Apple pencil and have an A9 or 10? processor?? I think the pencil is going to work it’s way into operating with all new 2016+ iPads. It could one day become a notepad replacement device. It seems like iPads will break out into either regular (Air) and large (Pro) sizes and either keep the mini and improve it, or phase it out in favor of “phablets” /bigger phones. I also expect maybe an Apple pencil mini(short), if the larger size is wildly popular; to be marketed for use with the largest phones. There needs to be a very compelling reason for iPhans to upgrade iPads . Many large companies are CHEAP with the hardware and software refresh rates. Many companies still deploy iPad 2 and or Win XP laptops. Corporations also need a really ROI based reason to upgrade hardware. Hopefully Apple and IBM have new software that requires the Pro hardware to work most efficiently.

  9. Gen 1 iPad mini still going strong here. And there’s still no compelling reason to upgrade given my family’s usage of it, which is casual games, Safari, and occasional movies for the little one.

    Force Touch, Pen Input, and Super Retina could do it, though.

  10. Love my iPad 2
    Love my iPhone 5s

    Will get the iPad pro because I draw.
    Will get the iPhone 7 because I skipped the 6 cycle because the 6 looked like a frumpy downgrade from the sexy 5s which still works perfectly .

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