Tuesday, 28 February 2017

It Took Apple Just Three Years To Halve iPad Sales


The iPad was introduced as the next paradigm shift in personal computing when Steve Jobs sprung it on an eager crowd back in 2010. Here was the antidote to Windows, a device that married portability and capability with Apple's usual slick engineering and design.

What happened next has been well documented. Apple fixed the iPad's major shortcomings and introduced a new smaller version and then ran out of ideas. Sales initially rocketed, before hitting a peak in 2014.

Sales have been tanking ever since, despite a heavy advertising spend and the introduction of the Surface-aping iPad Pro the rot has truly set in. 

To such an extent that iPad sales have fallen 50% in the three years to Q1 2017. Revenue is down by more than 50%, so the remaining iPad buyers are spending less per device.

Apple has failed the iPad, rather than vice versa. Failed to spot the change in the market that has pushed Windows tablets to the fore. Failed to grasp the nettle and merge the Mac and the iPad to create the all in one device buyers want. Failed to deliver an update that encourages existing customers to move to a newer model.

For all Apple's clever advertising buyers have abandoned the device in stunning numbers. Which makes the imminent announcement of new iPads all the more important.

For all that the iPad is profitable and generates billions of dollars in revenue, as long as sales are falling and revenue is tanking there's going to come a time when the iPad isn't worth the effort.

Failure to recognise the limitations of the iPad has prevented Apple from making the product better and selling more. I've been saying that Apple must be working on a Mac / iOS hybrid for so long it feels like a mantra. The delay is approaching the one which foreshadowed the arrival of big screen iPhones less than three years ago.

This tells me a lot about Apple's current management team. I feel certain that Steve Jobs would have seen the early potential of the Microsoft Surface long before it became a success and delivered an iPad which killed it stone dead long before the Surface and Surface Pro 3 caught the customer's imagination.

This year's iPad updates had better be something more than just new screen sizes and gimmicks. I want an iPad that is more capable and more relevant than the devices launched over the last three years. I know Apple can do it. My only question is when?

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