No one makes better tablets than Apple. They are robust, well-built devices that last. In fact the ecosystem they live in with apps and the cloud take them out of the Smartphone replacement life cycle and into that of the personal computer. iPad sales dropped last year, in line with the industry trend. Apple needs a hit with the iPad Air 2 and Mini 3; they need a product that will convince legacy users to upgrade.
The iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3 are nothing to write home about. They have a more powerful A8X processor, it’s super thin at 6.1mm (though #bendgate has made everyone suspicious), the camera is improved, they added touch id and you can access Apple Pay. Even if you love tech, this is a bit of a hard sell. Like the original Air, a change in form factor isn’t going to motivate everyone to upgrade.
Now lets think of who the real Apple users are, they aren’t the hip Millennials creating trends – they are your parents and grandparents. Babies and Seniors seem to make up a huge proportion of tablet users. How many times have you heard: “Apple’s amazing, I bought one for my parents/grandparents. It just works”? You are correct, Sir! And this massive market of people who just want their gadgets to “work” aren’t likely to replace devices until they have to.
If a large number of the people buying your product just want it to “work”, your business model just won’t roll. Imagine telling your Grandma that she needs the upgrade because she doesn’t have Apple Pay and those graphically-intensive games she loves playing will have decreased load time. We love thinking that Apple users are the most savvy, and some are, but the cold hard fact is Apple hasn’t been able to get people to upgrade from the iPad 2.
If not Old People, Then What is Stopping an Increase in iPad Sales?
Even if you don’t buy my argument that too many old people who don’t care about upgrades own Apple devices, these are incremental upgrades on devices that are built to last longer than a 2-year upgrade cycle. If you’re just using them at home, in your living room ,the likelihood of wear and tear coupled with a lack of truly portable usage scenario is going to keep you from making the switch.
If we look at some facts from mobile analytics and marketing firm, Localytics, the iPad 2 is king of the iPads with 27% and the non-retina iPad mini coming in second with 20%. Apple’s current-generation iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini, together, make up only 19% of the market.
The other factor at play is the introduction of the iPhone 6 – a “phablet”. This is a form factor we’ve seen causing delays upgrading tablets in the Android ecosystem. It is too soon to tell if this new form factor will, in fact, cannibalize Apple’s tablet sales, since it has just been on the market for a few weeks.
If I am right in my assumption that iPads, with their robust build, are more similar in upgrade cycles to PCs than to Smartphones, and the majority of users are on iPad 2’s, perhaps we’re going to have to wait at least another year before we see iPad sales turn around. Then again you might be better off asking your grandmother when she’s keen to bring Touch ID into her life.
New Tablet Line Won’t Gain Apple any Ground