The latest iPad sales numbers – reported by Apple yesterday in their Q! 2015 financial call – were down on the same quarter the previous year by around 20%. Even though Apple sold 21 million iPads in the quarter, a number many rival tablets haven’t reached in all their time on the market, those results will not doubt generally be viewed as disappointing.
In the Q&A session that followed Apple’s rundown of results, Tim Cook was asked about how optimistic or bullish he remains about the iPad, following a couple of ‘disappointing’ quarters. His answers indicated that Yes, he’s still very bullish about the iPad. Here are some of the reasons he gave for that view:
– First-time buyer rates are high – above 50% in some parts of Europe and in China
– Customer satisfaction is off the charts and in usage and commerce share for tablets it holds dominant positions
– Although he says Apple is still learning what the upgrade cycle is for the iPad, he says it is clearly longer than that of the iPhone and is likely somewhere between iPhone and PC
– Apple’s partnership with IBM and work being done in the enterprise is going very well, and that ‘can move the dial there’
– He doesn’t think we’ll see very different results in next few quarters’ results, but over the long haul he is very optimistic and bullish
All good points, and good to know.
This afternoon Apple is reporting their results for Q1 of their financial year. While there were insanely large iPhone sales numbers reported, the iPad numbers were down.
21.4 million iPads were sold in the quarter – down from 26 million in the same quarter last year. Meanwhile, the iPhone smashed all its records – with 74.5 million sold in the quarter. Tim Cook noted that they sold 34,000 iPhone per hour, 24 hours a day, for the entire quarter. That’s unreal sounding.
I’m sure the iPad numbers will be looked at as disappointing, and Apple definitely didn’t seem to want to dwell on them. Tim Cook did not even say the word iPad in his introductory comments, while he talked a lot on iPhone, Mac, iOS, Apple Pay, Apple Watch, and even Project Red.
While there’s no reason to celebrate the iPad results this quarter, it’s worth keeping ‘disappointing’ iPad numbers in perspective. I don’t have numbers in front of me, but I’d venture an educated guess that there are very few other tablets (if any) that have sold 21 million in their entire history.
iPad sales have been on a downward trend this year, with quarterly sales figures not matching the previous year and market share decreasing also (though much of that is due to the rise of cheap, white-label tablets).
Some view this as a sign that the iPad has seen its heyday and is now on the decline. Others feel it’s a natural place for the iPad to be in after its first few years on the market.
Jim Dalrymple, who runs The Loop and is famous for his ‘Yep’ pronouncements that are taken as confirmation of any and all Apple rumors, shared some of his thoughts on this subject this week. Here’s a key slice of those:
The great thing for consumers is that the iPad is built so well, people don’t feel the need to upgrade them as often. Apple also ensures the new iOS is compatible with a couple of generations of iPads and developers often do the same with their apps.
When you consider the iPad is either a first device for one segment of the market that isn’t doing high-end computing, or a complement to other devices for another segment, the need to upgrade quickly is low.
People treat their iPad purchases like they treat their computer purchases. …
Simply put, the buying cycle for an iPad is a lot longer than it is for an iPhone.
I think he’s spot-on, and that’s the biggest reason for slowing iPad sales, along with better competition from some Android tablets (I love the Nexus 7) as the years have gone by since the original iPad launch.
Another thing worth noting is that even iPad’s declining sales are still way, way ahead of any single rival device, and they still outsell any single PC model and often sales numbers for entire PC making companies. iPad is still king of the hill by just about any standard in the tablet arena, and any of its rivals (or even most PC vendors) would be more than happy to have its numbers.
Apple is promoting the iPad as a holiday gift with the slogan “From one gift come many”. It’s an excellent strapline to highlight how versatile the iPad is, and the accompanying text expands on the idea:
Let them prepare a feast. Choreograph a recital. Organize a toy drive. And take their entire songbook caroling. Give them iPad this holiday and they’ll do more than they ever imagined.
I really like this promo – the slogan is great and the very short body text for the promo mail is perfect. Looking at the image and reading that text lets you immediately think of what your child, your significant other, or a close friend could do with an iPad.
Nicely done Apple.
Is an iPad on your shopping list for anyone this year?
Kevin C Tofel has a great post up at Gigaom Mobile, running down some reasons he thinks the iPad lineup may no longer need a yearly refresh. The two main reasons for this are that right now there just aren’t a significant number of iPad apps that can fully take advantage of the latest, greatest iPad hardware; and that the typical user’s refresh cycle for a tablet device is likely a lot longer than for phones and closer to that of PCs.
Well, that’s my quick paraphrasing of Tofel’s reasons – here’s part of his take on iPad apps and new iPad hardware:
Put another way: Is there a “killer app” that really needs the iPad Air 2 hardware to make a huge impact? I can’t think of one.
Note that I’m not trying to put down app developers here. There are tens of thousands of programmers working hard to make great iOS apps. Some will be happy to see the new Metal graphics tool available in iOS 8 for sure. And I have no doubt that more visually and computationally complex apps will be afforded a better experience on the iPad Air 2. I just haven’t seen a software-based reason to compel many people to upgrade their hardware. It may take a year or more before app capabilities catch up to the hardware in the latest iPad.
I definitely agree with Tofel’s prediction that we will start seeing a refresh of just part of the iPad lineup each year; as we already have done really. This year’s update to the iPad mini was minimal to say the least. Same goes for the way it was almost totally ignored at Apple’s new iPad announcement event back in October. It would make sense to do more for the smallest iPad next year, then address the bigger model/models (if we see the rumored new 12 inch iPad) the following year, and then to follow that sort of pattern.
In any case, Tofel’s full post on this subject is well worth a read.