Apple made more money than ever, sold more iPhones and Macs and Watches than ever, and almost made more profit than ever, but did manage to make more money than Microsoft, Google, Samsung, and Amazon. Combined. So, where’s the bad news? iPad.
$#!% Happens, Things Change
If Apple has a problem child, thy child’s name is iPad. Despite records being set everywhere else at Apple, Inc., the iPad continued a downward spiral– going on three years now– and Apple doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to right the ship, plug the leaks, or do anything except count all of the tablet industry’s profits all the way to the bank (sans laughing).
Well, Apple. Someone has your six. Or, the front of your six. I have some ideas on what to do to improve the iPad’s numbers going forward, but I suspect you’re working on something similar. Instead, I’ve got your front. Or, the front of your six. You see, Apple, I know what’s wrong with the iPad.
Way back when, back when Steve Jobs brought the iPad onstage to a raucous crowd of Apple well wishers, and plunked his tookus on an overstuffed, overused leather chair from the last century to demonstrate how the post-PC era, Apple style, was to be, the iPhone wasn’t a monster hit just yet, and nobody had really large screen smartphones and Mac notebooks were still heavy.
Things change but not overnight, although to be fair, changes appear to have been overnight when looking backwards through time. Regardless, the iPad represented yet another big hit for Apple, and the crowning glory for the second Steve Jobs’ era at Apple because the co-founder died the next year.
The iPad was a hit. If you want all the numbers from then to now, then check out Jason Snell’s yeoman work in a variety of colors (one of the six which made up Apple’s almost original icon). The iPad’s best years are behind, not forward. The peak was more of a plateau in late 2013 and early 2014 and it’s been mostly downhill since then, with iPad’s sales nearing half what it once was.
What happened? Things changed. iPad did not. Here’s my list.
- iPads are built like little techno-tanks and last a long time and even survive children
- Apple’s only real innovations in recent years can be summed up as iPad Pro, Pencil, and Smart Keyboard; otherwise same old same old.
- iPads cannot do real work (as defined by full featured Mac and Windows PC notebooks, Office, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, et al).
- Macs and Ultrabook PCs are more powerful; do more, cost less, and are almost the same size but with better hardware specifications.
- Smartphone screens have become iPad-like in size, resolution, but with more capability (it’s a phone).
- People do not want to upgrade iPads as often as iPhones, perhaps less often than Macs.
- The iPad line has grown technologically stagnant with no reason to upgrade to newer models, and Apple gouges customers with older products priced as if they were new.
In other words, the iPad didn’t change as fast as the market changed and within a few years became the iPod touch of Apple’s product line. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet’s resident Apple basher (one among many; notice that ZDNet articles often get about the same number of reader comments as Mac360) claims the iPad is on life support.
Life support refers to the treatments and techniques performed in an emergency in order to support life after the failure of one or more vital organs. Healthcare providers and emergency medical technicians are generally certified to perform basic and advanced life support procedures; however, basic life support is sometimes provided at the scene of an emergency by family members or bystanders before emergency services arrive.
Not quite. iPad sales are down and going down and have been going down for about three years, but still top the no-longer-relevant tablet industry in sales, revenue, and profits. Yet, interestingly enough, the Mac just had the best sales quarter ever according to Apple, the company prone to using real numbers to describe sales, and the iPad’s unit sales were nearly twice the Mac; more expensive so more revenue.
So, what’s going on with iPad? Not much. And that’s the problem. How many devices do each of us need from Apple? iPhone? Sure. Mac? Definitely, but not as much. Watch? It’s growing on us. iPad? Something has to give and the device with the least advancements and the one with the least to offer is the one to suffer the most at, 1) Apple’s profound neglect, and, 2) massive changes in the technology marketplace as large screen smartphones do double duty as phones, mini-PCs, and content consumption devices.
Is it over for iPad?
Not yet. Apple still makes billions from the iPad line each year, but it’s clear that the value proposition has waned, and it’s time for some old-fashioned innovation. Apple style. Otherwise, the iPad will be what the iPod touch is now.