Like so many smartphone and tablet accessory categories, stands have become exceedingly commoditized. If you don’t know what I mean, I dare you to search for “iPad Stand” on eBay or Amazon and see how long you can stand browsing the never ending list. Half of what you will find there probably comes out of no more than 5 factories in East Asia.
For all the difficulty in finding a good device stand that is versatile and stands out from the crowd, it’s an accessory we all find ourselves in need of at one time or another. I’ve had several over the years, but they all had flaws. They didn’t last. They would only work for certain devices, or in certain use conditions. Frankly, I had never owned one that I was really all that happy with. That changed when I got Lynktec’s 360 Gripstand.
As we close the book on January, the rumors of a March Apple event centered on the iPad are coming fast and furious now. There are multiple reports of a new iPad Pro in a different size, an Apple Pencil refresh, and potentially some other Apple device updates, as well. With the iPad line progressively trending away from the Air and Mini and toward the Pro line over the last year, this next event should give us some clarification as Apple’s intentions for the tablet category going forward. This will be especially interesting given the continuing declines in year over year sales and profits for the iPad line that we recently learned about during Apple’s quarterly sales call.
I have to admit to feeling a bit like Goldilocks while writing this. I skipped the very first iPad in 2010, but since then I’ve tried iPads of all sizes in an attempt to find the right fit for me.
The iPad Pro joins Apple’s previous gallery of tablets, which means there are a total of three iPad sizes to choose from. Each size also has different models which vary in speed, features, and capacity — which can be quite confusing to those who haven’t been watching the lineup as it grows. The good thing to know is that these are mainly differences in CPU speed and Touch ID integration. All iPads in the lineup now features Retina screens.
Here are a few key things to know about each iPad and its price point, discussed in the same order that Apple uses on its website.
Images of a scaled-up software keyboard in iOS 9 from developer Steven Troughton-Smith hints at the existence of a larger iPad. This new keyboard has more keys, larger key sizes, and more symbols and numbers available at the surface level. The conclusion most people are making is that this layout could only feasibly be executed on a larger screen than the iPad has now.
This is interesting news on its own, but it got me thinking that a real breakthrough would be a software keyboard with a localized implementation of Force Touch (which is used on the Watch and new MacBook). One of the things that makes typing on the iPad different is that you can’t place your fingers on the keys when you want to rest them, and I think Force Touch could be an interesting solution to this issue. Imagine if you could rest your fingers on the area of the screen displaying the keyboard, but no keystrokes would be registered unless you apply more deliberate pressure to the screen.
The caveat here is that I don’t know if Force Touch could be designed to only work for a portion of the screen (depending on what’s displayed), and this kind of input would probably need some form of haptic feedback to help me feel when I’ve applied enough pressure to actually trigger a key press. The iPad has also never had a vibrating motor, let alone haptic feedback, and it could prove too noisy with the iPad on a desk.
However, if we’re going to see a larger iPad and a modified keyboard to suit it, I’m hoping to see more of the innovation that went into designing the keyboard and trackpad on the new MacBook be applied to the input mechanisms on a larger iPad.
The original iPad went on sale in the US for the first time on the morning of April 3rd, 2010. I was standing near the front – Number 7 in line – of a reserved line outside my local Apple store.
It was an exciting morning, talking with lots of people in the line about their iPad expectations and waiting to get my hands on Apple’s game-changing new tablet.
The iPad was such an unknown on that morning. Did anyone really need a device that was ‘in between’ a smartphone and a laptop? That was just one of the big questions about the iPad and whether there would be any market for it back in April 2010. Since then over 225 million iPads have been sold and over recent years they’ve had a sales rate far ahead of traditional PCs.
It feels a little hard to believe that it has already been 5 years since that original iPad launch day. Where were you on that April morning? Did you buy an iPad that day? That month? In 2010?
USA Today has a great report up on Ethan Och, a High School student with a muscle atrophy disease that was making it impossible for him to keep up as a drummer in his High School band.
With the help of a wonderful music teacher and the iPad, he’s managed to stay in the band and thrive.
I’ve always thought there were a lot of impressive iPad apps for making music, but this story is by far the one that’s most likely to put a smile on your face when seeing what the iPad can do. Check the video story out at this USA Today page.
The latest iPad sales numbers – reported by Apple yesterday in their Q1 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?