iPad sales have headed south for about three years. That’s thanks to a variety of rapidly changing market conditions that probably would have surprised Apple’s Steve Jobs who ushered in the post-PC era by introducing the iPad back in 2010.
Things change. Apple sold hundreds of millions of iPads since then (and based on my unofficial count, all but about 27 of them still seem to be in use to this day; those things are tanks), still outsells the Mac, and probably ranks as a Fortune 500 company all by its lonesome. Yet, some say the iPad is dying. What’s killing it?
A PC? Or, A Tablet?
Since the iPad’s launch in 2010 a number of changes in the market have occurred. Change happens. First, and the most obvious, is the large screen smartphones that became instant differentiators from Apple’s hot-selling and iconic iPhone. iPad sales began to plateau when large screen smartphones became all the rage at the Mall.
Second, and just as obvious, is the so-called ultra book, as exampled by the MacBook which resembles… insert drum roll here… an iPad with a keyboard. Many of these devices weigh within ounces of an iPad with a keyboard and despite not having as many apps from which to choose, are more powerful ounce-for-ounce.
Those two changes in the market helped to put a dent into iPad sales the past three years, but there’s one more item. The iPhone 6 Plus (and, subsequently, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPhone 7 Plus); Apple’s own large screen smartphone which made it easy to choose two of Apple’s three best-selling devices; iPhone and Mac vs. iPad.
Yet, here we are in 2017 and someone named Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has connected the dots on the camel’s hump and determined that the iPad’s demise is hastened by none other than Amazon. Uh huh. That Amazon.
You see, Amazon sells a tablet, too. I know. Who knew, right? Have you ever seen one in the wild? Amazon never releases sales numbers but did point out that the Amazon Fire tablets saw an increase which exceeded 99.3-percent last year. That could mean that Amazon sold 99 tablets the year before and 197 last year (rounding off, of course). We’ll never know. Amazon won’t say.
Here’s the common argument among pundits. Amazon has an ecosystem. I know. Who knew, right? I mean, Apple’s ecosystem consists of Macs, iPhones, iPads, Watch, Apple TV, iTunes, Apple Stores, applications, App Stores, etc., all of which work together providing user privacy and security. Some call it a walled garden. Some call it an ecosystem. Tomato, potato.
Kingsley-Hughes thinks Amazon could drive the nails into the iPad’s coffin by launching an Alexa-powered device that handles calls. You know, like Siri has since forever. On iPad and iPhone. Of which there are like about a billion still in use on planet earth. But reality doesn’t compare well with fantasy, and Amazon’s fantasy is to have Alexa in an indoor video camera to be used for home security, video conferencing, or to watch yourself change clothing gender on the TV.
But what should worry Apple is where Amazon is likely to take this technology.
Those famously frequent earthquakes in California originate in Cupertino. Apple quakes in fear, you know. Why not put video conferencing on Amazon Fire tablets. That worked for Apple’s 300-million or so iPads with FaceTime. Amazon could do it, too. With Skype!
And why stop at Fire tablets? What about those millions of Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Tap devices that Amazon has shipped? They don’t have a camera, but they’ve all got a Wi-Fi connection and an excellent speaker and microphone setup, and they could all become “telephones” in whatever system Amazon is developing.
Uh huh. Sure. Because future products by any manufacturer always compete well against products Apple is shipping today.
The argument is one item in a long list of Apple Is Doomed memes. Apple’s iPads are too expensive and do too little and everyone else makes better devices for 10-percent of an iPad’s price. Now, about those non-iPhone products Apple sells:
Apple understands that anything outside of mainstream consumer electronics is a niche market, and for a company pulling in billions of dollars every quarter from a mainstream smartphone, these markets are nothing more than a distraction.
Uh huh. You know that consumers buy Macs, right? And iPads. And Watch. And you know that Mac and iPad make up their own Fortune 500 company. Each. Ditto for Apple’s Services division which just about cracks the Top 100. Even the lowly Watch would make the Fortune 500. Amazon comes in at #18, lower on the list than the iPhone would as a standalone company.
Where do you think Amazon’s Echo and Fire tablets and Fire Stick TV come in on the Fortune 3,927 list? Apple has little to worry about from Amazon’s Echo and Alexa. Siri works as well on about 1-billion devices already, including hundreds of millions of iPads. How many Amazon Fire tablets are there on planet earth?
Amazon won’t say.