Apple is about to make millions of iPads obsolete, which is good news for shareholders

“Once, Apple’s tablet was its second-largest business. But it’s fallen on hard times in recent months. Last quarter, it generated less than 10% of Apple’s total revenue, and was its second-smallest segment. Apple’s management remains steadfast in its commitment to the iPad, consistently pointing to popular metrics of user engagement, consumers love their iPads, and continue to use them often,” Sam Mattera writes for The Motley Fool. “They just aren’t buying new ones.”

“To spark an upgrade cycle, Apple has worked to add attractive new features to the iPad, including the ability to multitask, and support for new accessories, notably the Apple Pencil,” Mattera writes. “But the biggest incentive may come later this year: almost half of all iPads currently in use will not be able to take advantage of Apple’s forthcoming software update, iOS 10, which could spark a major upgrade cycle.”

“Localytics found that the second-most commonly used iPad was the iPad 2, a device first released about 5 years ago. In total, the iPad 2 represented about 17% of the iPad install base. Other commonly used yet relatively old iPads include the original iPad Mini (15% of the install base) and the third-generation iPad (9%). Both were released roughly four years ago,” Mattera writes. “To date, Apple has released 12 different iPad models, of which 8 will be compatible with iOS 10. The original iPad, the iPad 2, the iPad Mini, and the third-generation iPad are not compatible. If Localytics’ findings are accurate, those four models represent a massive 42% of all the iPads currently in use.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last April:

Apple simply made and continue to make iPads too well for their own good. iPads last and last and last.

Furthermore, as we wrote in February:

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.

SEE ALSO:
Apple needs to scale back iOS compatibility with older devices to accelerate device replacement – May 4, 2016
iPad 2: Five years later, it keeps chugging along – April 28, 2016
When will Apple’s iPad sales finally bottom out? – February 4, 2016

26 Comments

    1. I, too, have an iPad 3 – the first retina version and the second heaviest (and not be much) to the 12.9″ iPad Pro!

      It is still working fine and battery life is strong despite a great deal of use. On average, it has been fully charged more than once per day since I bought it just because it has been used so much. The home key has become less responsive and I am seeing some performance lags, but I cannot fault the device. It has performed reliably for years in frequent use, and that is a testament to Apple’s attention to design and manufacturing. Bravo, Apple! I will upgrade to a new iPad soon – perhaps this year.

      1. I use my iPad 3 also every day too but it displays no sign of any button problems, just generally a little slower. It’s been well protected in it’s case. That Retina Display is truly what makes a difference BUT I’d love to have an iPad Pro and it’s advantages. And so as it was written, so shall it be DONE!

  1. I honestly don’t understand how ppl can say the older iPads work just fine. I gave my mom my original iPad 1 and it is nothing but a paper weight. She just wanted to play games yet every game crashed. I have the original iPad mini, I’m sorry it lags way too much to function in a non distracting way. I pride my apple products but I do not feel that they last very long with the updates. One iOS update is ok but 2 you begin to see lagging and opening of apps really slow down. I do not think it is ever worth buying last years model when they do an update. I just come to expect fast seamless functionality that is fluid.

  2. People have limited budgets, they can’t be upgrading all of their devices every year or even every second year. As much as I love my iPad, my iPhone still gets the majority of use because it is in my pocket and essentially with me 24 / 7.

    If I have to decide between upgrading my phone or iPad, the phone wins out every time because I use it more.

    The older iPad is “good enough” for the amount that I use it. For all the new bells and whistles, I will go with an upgraded phone.

    1. That’s basically my situation, and I don’t even own an iPad – I have both a MBP and an iPhone 5c that have both gone beyond the AppleCare period, and I have a family to feed, so as much as I want new gadgets, and even as sure as I am that I could sell the old ones as soon as I buy the new, I just don’t have the budget right now. Add to that other financial goals, such as buying a house or a second car, and that spells a big nope to new devices.

    2. Jimmy, it depends on the model from which you start. I am been very careful too try to find the major transitions when I purchase new Apple products, and I have been pretty fortunate to date. My 2007 24″ intel iMac is still working pretty well after quite a few OS upgrades, as is my iPad 3.

      Both products are now approaching end-of-life. My iMac performance has dropped under Yosemite. And the graphics on my iPad 3 has occasional lags with some games and the home button is getting a bit finicky. But I really can’t complain.

  3. The iPads aren’t obsolete as the headline says. They’ll still work, but Apple will stop updating software for it, and then the developers will stop updating apps for it. I just wouldn’t do my banking with it, but if it still works for you, it’s not obsolete.

  4. I have a fleet of iPads from a 64gb iPad 1 that I use like a iPod classic for music, to my favorite iPad Air, to the iPad Pro 12 which I’m turning into my podcast production machine. I love them all. They all have function and allow me to touch the Internet in a more organic way than a PC or phone would.

    1. This is not new. If they did not bash iPad then the would bash Apple Watch, in few more years they will bash Apple cars. The list goes on and on and on. Everyone must have a jobs to do. therefore , they must do their jobs, Even thought sometimes it makes no sense at all.

      1. They don’t make sense but OS upgrades effecting hardware sales makes perfect sense. Components that work well for a couple years inevitably can’t keep up with software upgrades. I think I’ve just described the same rationale for the computer upgrade cycle since it began though slowed in recent years. Nothing new indeed.

  5. This means no more updates for my daughter’s iPad mini. Don’t look at the release date of the model, look at how recently Apple was selling it as new. Apple stopped selling new iPad minis June 18, 2015. So someone who bought that new last summer got exactly 1 OS update last Fall before obsolescence. That’s rather Android-like.

  6. Still using iPad 1st gen.
    What still works great?
    Calendar
    Mail
    Reminders
    Photos
    TomTom – fantastic on that size screen
    Maps
    Music- bonus, this is the version that still has podcasts in it and works.
    IBooks
    GasBuddy
    and many more.

  7. I hate it when people use percentages as if they’re absolute amounts. The iPad represents 10% of revenue, that may be a drop, but that figure alone doesn’t actually mean that iPad revenues have dropped, it could mean that other revenues have increased more and thus increased their overall percentage. Admittedly, that’s not the case here as people are keeping their iPads longer (more like Macs), but it is the case that so often percentages are terribly misused.

  8. There are basically 2 things working against them.
    1) a new iPad Pro cost as much as a MacBook Pro so to justify it I need to get 5 years or so out of it unless I use it to make money then I can justify more frequent upgrades..
    2) I have been stung twice by Apple with iPads,
    A – I spent $1000 on iPad 1 and they pulled the plug on iOS upgrades at year 2 🙁
    B – I purchased iPad 3 another $1000 item and 6 months later they came out with iPad 4 🙁 so now twice bitten 4x as shy to purchase another, I will but not sure when.
    Apple as an incentive need to bring the memory on the base model Pro to 128GB for the current base price.

    1. 1) if the MBP is what you need, you have that option. Options are great that way.
      2) so the fact that Apple is upgrading iPads is something that you see as a negative? :confused: There’s probably a newer model of you car available now, too. If not, it may be soon. You don’t have have to have it. The old one probably still gets you around just fine. And the new features on the newer models won’t likely be available for your older car.

      1. 1) Not what I said, I was comparing price to years of service IE If I am paying $1,000 for an iPad I want it to be supported for several years not 2. Grated they have been doing a much better job of this since the iPad 1 but they still screwed there first adopters.
        2) they can upgrade all they want in my case thought the iPad 1 was put on the not supported for iOS upgrades way to early (especially when they were still supporting iPhone with lower specs), and in the second my iPad 3 was devalued in half the time of any other iPad as they upgraded it in 6 months instead of the usual 12. So burned twice.

  9. Apple has priced themselves out of the pad market. Schools, who at first, bought iPads like they were gifts from God. Now several years later, they learned that they can do what they want to do with purchasing an Android device at half the price or better yet, an entire computer for $400 that will last four to five years before they have to be replaced. IMHO, Apple has completely lost the educational market. Oh sure, individual students might buy an Apple, but as a wholesale leader, Apple has lost to HP many years ago.

      1. A few months, ago I resurrected my original iPad 1, running iOS 5.1.1, because some of my older apps have still allowed me to stream my complete purchased iTunes video library, without any restrictions, on a remote, portable Wireless hard drive.
        Apple is NOT going to go backwards and issue a “fix” to prevent this from working on iDevices that are still running iOS 7 or earlier.
        I was able to reinstall most older versions of apps that I still use.
        So, I am using my original iPad as a mobile media player first and for other apps and Internet access secondly.
        I can no longer do this on my iPad 2, 3 and Pro models because of changes made in iOS, sometime during iOS 8, that Apple, secretly, covertly and underhandedly, prevents streaming of purchased iTunes video content from any external storage source.
        I got my wife an iPad 2 over two years, ago, but with the limited memory and throttled CPU she was having too many issues and crashes with apps and online.
        So, I ended up switching her iPad 2 and gave her my iPad 3 and it has been working flawlessly for her.
        She likes the better display and with the full speed of the 1.0 GHz A5X CPU and a full 1 GB of RAM, neither one of us ever had any issues with running the iPad 3.
        Runs super with the latest iOS 9.
        I was using her iPad all the time and I while it doesn’t run iOS 9 as well as the iPad 3, it still runs pretty well and I try to take it easier on the iPad 2 as far as how many apps I can leave running in the background and use fewer tabs (only 3 or 4 tabs) when using a web browser to keep working apps from crashing.
        So, I have been able to still use the iPad 2 when I need to use it as long as I don’t tax its resources.
        Even with being left out of the iOS 10 upgrade cycle, both my iPad 2 and 3 models should still be workable and functional for another couple of years.
        That will give me enough time to save up some cash to get my wife a new or newer iPad in that time.
        I am mostly on my large iPad Pro, now.
        I expect to have this iPad for, at least, another 5-7 years for what I paid.

    1. iPad 3 is 4 years old
      iPads 2, 3 and first Mini will NOT be able to upgrade to iOS 10.
      Why would you want this to happen anyways?
      Older iPads get none of the new and cool features.
      Older iPads get only the minimum of base iOS features.
      So, why do you think you want your iPad 3 to run iOS 10 so badly?
      Your iPad 3 won’t receive a lot of benefits from it!
      And a minority of older iPad user are still whining that each iOS iteration keeps slowing down their iPads.
      Plus, even though the iPad Mini has a lightning connector, the iPad Mini is the functional equivalent of the iPad 2.
      I believe the iPad 2 and 3 are being left behind from iOS 10 because they are the only 2 iPads left in the iPad lineup that still use the older 30 pin dock connector while, 8 other models use the current and faster lightning connector.

  10. I carry an iPD along when I will not have my MacBook Pro along, but otherwise it largely sits unused. I will take ANY Mac over any iOS device any day. It is somply no reolacement for a real computer when there is work to be done.

    Other than for casual board and card games the iPad sucks for gaming. For reading an e-ink Kindle kicks it’s ass up and down the street.

    Truth be told, most people use it as a big iPhone and it is as expensive as a far more capable desktop computer or even a Windows 10 tablet. Apple’s penchant for keeping the iOS file system locked away is the Achilles Heel.

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