Apple has a bucketload of hit products, from Mac to Watch, iPhone to iPad. Mac and iPhone sales are at record levels. Watch is the most popular device in the nascent smartwatch segment. The only blemish on that stellar record is the iPad.
Since the launch in 2010 the iPad has revolutionized… something; at first heralded as the device which ushered in the post-PC era where iPad sales within a few years topped the toal number of Macs in use, then onto record sales and marketshare, then more than a year of falling sales.
Why? Two words: cheap hybrids.
Microsoft completely missed the mobile device revolution and Windows Phone has an anemic to insignificant marketshare while the PC market as a whole continues to contract. The only light at the end of the long, dark PC tunnel is hybrid devices; a notebook with a touchscreen running Windows 8.1 and now Windows 10, both optimized somewhat to make the devices easier to use as a tablet.
Think of the power of full OS X in an iPad. That won’t happen any time soon, but that’s what Microsoft did with Windows, and the PC industry responded with a plethora of cheap, plastic, underpowered touch screen Windows hybrids which attempt to be a tablet, albeit with incredible clumsiness, and a notebook, though a keyboard usually costs extra.
What’s the attraction? Cheap. And hybrid. PC buyers get full-on Windows, and a notebook, and a tablet, and pay, in many cases, less than $200, a nominal sum that looks great when compared to Apple’s iPad Air which starts at $499.
That’s about where the customers comparisons end. In short, iPad sales are down while Windows hybrid sales are up. However, it looks as if there may be more to the story. Again, two words: life cycle. The iPad is barely five years old and has sold nearly 300-million units worldwide. That’s not a shabby number, but the problem here is twofold. First, no one knows exactly what the life cycle of an iPad is, and when customers will begin replacing their old units with new iPads. Second, Apple hasn’t really done much to increase the iPad’s value proposition despite tacking on a few extra goodies like Touch ID fingerprint sensor, a faster CPU and graphics, and a high resolution Retina display.
The fact is a fully loaded iPad Air does much of what the second generation iPad did back in 2011. There are a few hundred thousand more applications available, but the basic public facing value proposition hasn’t changed much. A new iPad is much like an old iPad so what’s the incentive to upgrade to a new model?
The iPad faces cheap hybrids which look attractive but are little more than touchscreen netbooks without a keyboard, and iPad customers can’t find a good reason to get a new device because their older devices work so well.
Cheap hybrids, life cycle.