iPad Apologetics

When I saw Wired’s headline about the iPad going from “Massive to ‘Meh’ in 5 Short Years” I was initially dismissive — I love my iPad mini and I loved my previous iPad, so why would people think it was ‘Meh’?

However, having read the article, I am in broad agreement. The iPad is not the device that people need, it is merely a device that people want. I’m someone who loves usingtechnology, when I need it and when it is just there for fun. I think the iPad falls into the fun camp. Granted, it is perfectly capable for many work applications, but most people only know of its casual uses. I think there are several reasons why iPad sales are seeing a decline, its usage, Phablets, its longevity and its roadmap.

Most people do not use iPads to get work done… But an increasing number do!

While Apple has given the user a great free suite of apps for work with Pages, Numbers and Keynote, Apple has firmly left the paradigm it started with the iPhone in2007, without the side-by side apps of the Surface and Surface Pro, even though the iPad Air 2 is likely to be capable enough for this usage. I used the iPad with a bluetooth keyboard, and would be perfectly fine with this as a great travel computer. The one-app-at-a-time is great for concentration, but terrible for comparison and copying and pasting. With a laptop or a Surface you get a choice of both of those now.

I think Apple needs to show off iMovie and other “serious” apps if they want to go somewhere into true “get work done” areas. While I have used my iPad for work and many do, with or without a keyboard, we are the outliers, not the norm. I would suggest that typing a name into IMDB for movie trivia, watching Netflix, or reading and replying to a quick email or a Facebook message — the fun things an iPad is used for — are the ones it is most known for and most used.

Tim Cook and his iPad

“I’m very optimistic and bullish on iPad over the long run”

— Tim Cook, 27 January 2015

Phablets

Why get a smartphone and a tablet when you can get a device that sits in the middle? People are budget-conscious about the technology they buy and this is a great compromise. iPhone users calling for a larger phone were finally given the 5.5" screen device they always wanted andthe question arises, why carry two devices when youcan just carry one? My stepmum loves her iPad Air, but her iPhone 6+ is always with her. That’s what she will use in the vast majority of situations without thinking. In my own life, using a phone with a 5.5" screen in front of the TV for that quick Google search or to check emails, there is no need to remember to get that second device.

When the top smartphones sold in the last year all have screen sizes over 4", it is easy to see why a smartphone with a big screen might be enough for most people in most situations that would previously called for an iPad. In previous years, with smaller, less capable phones, this wouldn’t have been an issue. Today, the iPad is fighting to justify its position in your hands if your smartphone is already there.

iPads don’t just die (on their own)

Apple has built these devices to last. My first generation iPad from 2010 is still working fine. Granted the software isn’t there for it anymore, but the hardware shows amazing longevity -unless you smash it. Customers have no reason to replace something that is working just fine. Tablets are not smartphones that need replacing every 1–2 years as they do not suffer the wear and tear of daily life that smartphones do. This is especially true for the iPad with its aluminium and glass body and Apple processors. iPads as far back as 2011’s iPad 2 are able to run the latest version of iOS, meaning that for a coffee table computer or second screen while you’re watching TV, an iPad doesn’t need to be the latest and greatest.

Because of this, people who choose to buy an iPad can afford to buy them new or secondhand, leading to near complete market saturation and slowing of sales in Western markets. Indeed, by comparison, Tim Cook said that “If you look at some of the developed markets… 50 percent of the people are buying an iPad for the first time. If you look in China it’s over 70 percent. And so when you have that kind of first-time buyer rates, you don’t have a saturated market.” While sales have stagnated elsewhere, emerging markets are still clamouring for the iPad.

Product Manoeuvres

The iPad might be where it is because Apple is happy to have it there. The halo effect of Apple products is well-documented and has likely contributed to the company to record record profits with increased sales in iPhones and computers. Apple is going to be perfectly fine with a customer choosing to buy an iPhone 6+ or a MacBook Air rather than an iPad. If the product is good enough, sales will provide more sales.

Rumours of an “iPad Pro” with true stylus support abound. Apple could very well be creating the hardware and the software to turn the iPad into a tablet for truly getting work done closer to the position Microsoft has placed the Surface Pro 3 in the marketplace, that of a true hybrid device.

Finally the difference between last year’s iPad models and this year’s is small. Perhaps this is due to time and resources being spent on a new product in the category or Apple already knows its devices are at the top of the pile and wants to keep its profit margins as healthy as possible.

“Optimistic and Bullish on iPad”

Whatever the reasoning behind this drop in iPad profits, Tim Cook is remaining calm. As CEO of the most profitable company in the world, he has every reason to be. He also knows the roadmap for the new Apple mobile devices as a whole and the iPad product category. He knows what is coming down the pipe and if he is optimistic, then we will just have to wait and see why.

The iPad is a great device to sit between my phone and computer, but it cannot replace either. Apple may have to increase the rhetoric about the device to convince people why they should continue to feel excited to get an iPad, rather than simply “meh”.


Originally posted on 27 January 2015 at Dcxiii.com

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