For anyone who views mostly headlines and doesn’t give much thought to a little behind-the-scenes analysis, one could easily come to the conclusion that the iPad is dying, and iOS 8, compared to iOS 7, is a failure.
Both are false conclusion based upon little understanding and less analysis of the numbers available behind the scenes. Is the iPad dying? No. Is iOS 8 less successful than iOS 7? No. And yes. Let me take a moment to explain.
Success By Numbers
First up, the iPad. Quarterly sales are on the decline for Apple’s hot tablet, and ditto for competing tablets. What’s going on?
If we’re in the post-PC era, the iPad should be taking over the PC world and it’s not. What gives?
The problem here has to do with product comparisons and product successes. The iPad has been Apple’s fastest growing new product, eclipsing early iPhone sales, and that made it a huge success almost immediately.
In product usage, though, the iPad is more like the Mac than it is a large iPhone. After just a few years in the market, one could argue the iPad is already a mature product, with incremental improvements each year, but the design and usage remain the same– much like the Mac.
iPad sales are dropping because the market became saturated very quickly. Apple claims well over 200-million iPads sold, and because the line is merely 4-years old, most remain in use. Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Mac has a base of only 70-million customers, yet is selling at record levels.
iPad sales will fall back to a more predictable and steady growth rate– much like the Mac. But to call it a dying brand is a drastic misread of the facts and the marketplace.
iOS 8 vs. iOS 7
For the past few years Apple executives have pointed out, rightly so, that iOS users adopt new versions far faster than Android OS users. In fact, iOS 7 hit the 90-percent level of the entire installed base within months after release.
iOS 7 was popular. iOS 8 has seen much slower growth, and months after release is barely at 60-percent penetration among iOS devices. Why? Is iOS 8 Apple’s Vista?
First, iOS 8 is a massive overhaul of iOS with far greater potential for expanding the platform than the mere cosmetic changes implemented in iOS 7. That means it requires more storage space simply to install itself on iPhones and iPads. iOS 8 also does works only on newer iPhone and iPad models, dropping the first generation of iPads, and going back only to iPhone 4s. That leaves tens of millions of iPhone and iPad users with the inability to upgrade to iOS 8.
Second, iOS 8 requires more storage space on a device to install itself, and with over-the-air upgrades the norm these days, many users just don’t have the free space, thanks to thousands more photos, hundreds more video clips, hundreds more songs, and dozens more applications. Yes, upgrades to iOS 8 are easily handled with a cable connection to iTunes on a PC or Mac, but many users were not aware that was an option.
Why Apple is selling an iPhone and iPad with only 16GB of storage is beyond me, but that pitiful amount could easily come back to bite the company in a couple of years when iOS 9 won’t install at all on tens of millions of customer’s devices.
So, no, the iPad isn’t dying. It’s becoming more like the Mac with steady sales and a regular upgrade cycle, thanks to the iPad being a huge hit from day one. And, no, iOS 8 isn’t a failure, either. To use it is to love it.