Apple iPad Consensus: Turning the Tide?
- April 6, 2017
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Our family was early to the iPad game. My wife bought the first one when it came out. I bought the iPad 2. She upgraded to an iPad Mini. I upgraded to a retina iPad. Eventually I picked up the iPad Pro with a keyboard and stylus.
For me, the keyboard and stylus are game changers for the iPad. When I bought the iPad 2 I described it as the perfect conference device. An all-day+ battery, with enough real estate to type away with thumbs or write with a finger or stylus. But for me, the accuracy of third party styluses suffered considerably once the retina iPad came out. And it wasn’t until the Apple Pencil came out on the iPad Pro that I ever got the accuracy I wanted. With the latest iPad pro, I’m back to leaving my laptop behind at a conference and using my iPad. Which is to say, basically I’m carrying around a battery with a sheet of glass on it. I just survived Interconnect recently and my iPad was my go to machine.
Over the last 4 years, iPad sales have been in decline, but recently consensus seems to have shifted to believing that the low point for iPad sales may be in our rear view mirror. I’m not sure, but I think there’s a good chance they’re right.
Horace Dediu’s piece on iPad Optics is excellent. It reminds us that iPads still dominate Macs in sales. The graph also appears to show a flattening in the decline in sales. Also important, competitors aren’t beating the iPad – there just aren’t really any competitors making a dent. Si there isn’t much of a tablet market, but there is an iPad market.
Jean-Louis Gassée also weighed in with his piece “the iPad Turnaround is Coming“:
There’s more to this than an indisputable technical advantage. As hoped for in this space, it’s part of a shift that partially explains Cook’s fervor for the iPad: iOS, not macOS, will be the software engine of Apple’s future. Mac fans, I’m one of them, might disagree with Apple’s strategy, but here it is in plain view.
This leads us to an easy guess for future iPad Pros. We’re likely to see linear hardware and software improvements (keyboard, screen, stylus, more independent windows…), plus others we can’t think of immersed, as we often are, in derivative thought. All will make the Pros more pro: Powerful enough of take business away from the Mac (and Windows PCs). I like my MacBook, but can see an iPad Pro on my lap and desk in a not-too-distant future.
I think they’re probably right. I can’t call the bottom on iPad sales – the longevity of these devices, and the quality – limits the need to upgrade except to acquire new capabilities. I see a lot of room to run improving on these devices. Ironically, Microsoft’s Surface may just further soften the ground for Apple to convince people that a tablet can be their primary computing device…
Maybe we can’t call the precise bottom in terms of sales, but I think we’ve just turned the corner in terms of the opinions of analysts and experts in the space.