When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad back in 2010 he also announced the post-PC era. We took that to mean the iPad would eventually replace much of the computing normally accomplished on Macs and Windows PCs. Almost. But not quite.
The iPad Is A Mac
Regarding my iPhone, I’m guilty of using the phrase, ‘It’s like a Mac in my pocket.’ So, how is the iPad not ‘like a Mac‘ but with a bigger screen than an iPhone?
To put it bluntly, and to account for the recent drop in iPad sales, the iPad is more like the Mac than an iPad is like an iPhone.
Let me explain.
The iPhone is maturing as a product line, and that means ever increasing sales numbers as previous customers upgrade to newer models.
Don’t Mac and iPad customers upgrade to newer models? Yes, but not as frequently as iPhone customers. That’s the key to understanding the iPad’s recent dip in sales.
This isn’t a scientific survey, but from my observations it’s likely that most Mac customers hold onto their Macs for a year or two (or three) longer than iPhone customers hold on to their iPhones. The upgrade cycle is different for Mac vs. iPhone.
It’s also different for the iPad. The Mac doesn’t get compelling new features with every model to incite sales. The upgrade cycle is more predictable and has less influence on sales from CPU speed, battery life, graphics, or even the latest OS X.
Unlike the iPad or the Mac, the iPhone is Apple’s flagship product, the state of the art is advancing rapidly, and Apple has managed to entice customers to upgrade to new models each year by adding impressive new features. Here’s my short list.
3G, 4G, Retina display, improved camera, better graphics, Touch ID, and so on.
Meanwhile, a five year old Mac can still run OS X Yosemite, while the iPad 2 can still run iOS 8, but the iPhone 4s is the minimum iPhone for iOS 8. Hence, in sales cycles, the iPad is more like the Mac than the iPad is like an iPhone.
Functionally there are distinctions, too. The iPhone is a small iPad, yes, but also a phone and a camera. The iPad and Mac both have cameras, but are used for different purposes. I suspect that Apple’s next iPad models will help to improve quarterly sales, spurred on by a few new features (better cameras, Touch ID), but take on a longer sales and product life cycle than the iPhone, though perhaps less than the Mac.