When will Apple’s iPad sales finally bottom out?

“The iPad is big in my house. I use one (Pro), my wife uses one (Air 2), my son uses one (Mini 2). Suffice it to say that we see the appeal,” jason Snell writes for Macworld. “But at some point, even the biggest boosters of the iPad have to admit that something’s wrong. With iPad sales down year-over-year for 10 out of the last 11 quarters, it’s safe to say that this is more than a blip.”

“Many observers have been waiting for a while now for the iPad to find its level — for sales to flatten back out and reveal what size Apple’s iPad business will really be going forward,” Snell writes. “It’s clear that the heady days where Apple sold 80 million iPads in a year are gone, and won’t be coming back for quite a while. But as sales continue to decline, it’s worth asking when it will all stop.”

“At this point, Apple’s selling iPads at a rate of approximately 48 million iPads per year — roughly the rate it was selling them in 2011, at the very start of the iPad’s lifespan, just before iPad sales kicked into gear,” Snell writes. “So is this the bottom? Or will it get worse before it gets better?”

Read more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: You cannot have a Christmas quarter without a new iPad Air model unless you’re incompetent, don’t care about iPad sales, or because there were extenuating circumstances. We hope the latter is the case here, because the first two possibilities are just too awful to consider.

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.

16 Comments

  1. You also have to keep in mind that androids have saturated the market with cheap $50 tablets that serve the basic function of web browsing and Facebook. And at that price they are disposable.

    1. I stopped using my iPad after I got an iPhone 6 Plus. I suspect there are many more like me. The only tablet I would buy now is one that is productive like a MS Surface Pro. Perhaps the iPad Pro as well.

      1. I tend to agree, the iPad goes on forever and that combined with Apple’s naive willingness to hold back iPad development for a couple years one presumes because it was selling so well in its own right combined with an unwillingness I think to allow it to take Mac sales. So it was in thir interest to somewhat restrain its capabilities. So what was compelling for those like me to upgrade it when it still works so well and a new one would not do much more just a little more efficiently perhaps. The Pro finally shows what’s needed to advance the platform but still some way to go and in particular transferring those advances to the smaller iPads before its turned round and give users compelling reasons to upgrade, let alone convince people it’s a true computer replacement.

      2. Agreed, other hardware positioned above (Mac) and below (iPhone), either in combination or individually fits many people’s needs. I think there will be a few years of consolidation where people kind of get used to what they’re using and when/where. It will perhaps take a revolution in software, that “killer app”, that radically changes usage scenarios to kick off the next big change of usage. Ultimately we’re just talking about sizes of screens. People don’t have two iPhones depending on how big a device they want on a particularly day, they make a decision about what is best most of the time. In the same way they’re perhaps going with an iPhone and a MacBook, or just the iPhone.

  2. I agree. I have usually upgraded to the newest 9.7″ model each year, but if the Air 3 doesn’t support the Pencil, I don’t see myself going for it this time around as the Air 2 is still plenty good enough.

    And multi-user support is something that should have been added a few years ago. At least now that they’re adding it for EDU use in iOS 9.3, perhaps we can hope that it’ll come for all with iOS 10.

    1. I assume (hope) that if and when Apple (Tim) can get the Apple Pencil lead time to match that of the iPad Pro, Apple will offer a “Pro” version in all iPad screen sizes!

      Same opinion about the stupid missing multi-user in my house. Once every guest and family member starts using the iPad, they will want their own.

  3. MDN’s right.

    The key question is: What update to an iPad would be seen as so compelling that people with perfect-working iPads of long ago generations would upgrade?

    My answers:
    – Make the UI more processor intensive so old iPads lag.
    – So crazy thin people just want one.
    – New hardware that involves key functionality that is also awesome and fun. 3-D touch probably doesn’t fit this bill, sadly.
    – Indestructible/Doesnt-need-a-case (liquidmetal?)

    In our family we’ve never spoken of replacing the original iPad mini we all share, until last week. We’d bought Laura Croft GO, which is a beautifully animated puzzle game, and the iPad lagged on loading it and crashes a few times (never on our phones though). A bit more of that and we’d probably have a family convo about what to upgrade to next.

  4. How long did the incompetent in Cupertino think he could milk the iPad by NEVER significantly changing it from Jobs’ original iPad?

    In six years, with a competent and innovative CEO, the iPad should’ve had:

    * A true file system
    * Networking with OSX
    * Print driver support
    * Mouse support
    * Multi-user login
    * External storage support
    * At least one USB port
    * Thunderbolt support

    But of course we had a lazy, incompetent, distracted, gay rights activist running the show. Such things as improving upon exisiting technology (i.e. doing your f*cking job), is apparently asking too much!

  5. I bought the iPad 1. It worked great for me and now it is doing very well for my granddaughter. I bought the 3 air and am very happy with it and can find no compelling reason to change. I don’t buy a computer every year nor do I buy iPads any differently. Perhaps that is why sales are flat since I van’t be the only one.

  6. I’ve got an iPad 3. I use it about 4 hours a day. It is only now getting to the point that I’m thinking about upgrading … I’ll wait until the next generation is released, hopefully this summer.

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