It has been a while since the place where the iPad occupies in the lives of users in relation to the iPhone and the Mac. That is, as Jean-Louis Gassée recalls in Monday Note (via The Loop), “We all know what a PC is, and we ‘understand’ smartphones, but we’re still debating what an iPad is meant to be”.
With the arrival of the iPad Pro in 2015, Apple tried to make the device go beyond a media player, drawing attention to artists, musicians and professionals from other areas.
Despite all efforts, recent figures show that sales of Apple tablets have declined considerably since the first quarter of 2014, when they reached 74 million units sold, its biggest brand. Thereafter, a 42% decline began, having sold 43 million units in early 2017.
This fall has led many to think, perhaps, that the death of iPads was imminent and that the recent commercials were Apple’s last breath to try to leverage its sales again. Some even blamed the longer device update cycle, the larger iPhones, the inferior software, among other factors.
However, Neil Cybart, writing to Above Avalon, showed that reality is milder than it may seem. This is because, contrary to what is believed, the great “culprit” is fundamentally just one: the iPad mini.
The image above shows the general sales of iPads, with the blue part representing the 9.7 or 12.9 inch versions (ie iPads, iPad Air and iPad Pro) and the red part representing the iPad mini (7.9 inches). As can be seen, overall sales increased with the arrival of the smaller tablet, but they have not been sustained for that long. The decline that begins in the first quarter of 2014 is only in relation to iPad mini, with the others even having an increase (but, over time, they also decline). In other words, from that period until today, sales of minis alone decreased by 70%, “hiding” sales from others.
Not only have iPad’s large screen sales (9.7 and 12.9 inches) remained relatively unchanged for the past four years, they have actually increased year-over-year in the last quarter. And the iPad Pro played an important role in these sales.
What will happen to the iPad mini from here, then? According to Cybart, the aggressive advertising around the iPad Pro and also the decrease in the price of the newly launched 9.7-inch “iPad”, will make the mini line remain only for a “niche” – those who find the iPhone Plus “too small” and 9.7-inch iPads “too big” for your tasks. Even though the author claims that the mini will remain on the line with only a “minor role”, the bets are that the device is moving towards its end.
Cybart also recognizes the existence of a “Mac dilemma”. That is, he believes that Apple will still replace Macs with iPads, basing his opinion on the commercials for iPad Pro (which exalt the functions of the tablet and diminish those of a “PC”), in Tim Cook’s statements about the device being “ Apple’s vision for the future of computing ”and the most attractive prices for the company’s newest tablets, making the Mac just a“ niche product ”.
Apparently, he dismisses the fact that the “laptops” that Apple makes up for in commercials do not refer to MacBooks, in addition to ignoring the company’s discourse on how MacBooks will still remain “for long years”.
Still, as shown in the chart above, Macs are the only ones that continue to have very stable sales – even though the number is much lower than that of iPhones and iPads – and these, as we have seen, are not performing as badly as we thought.