In a bid to reenergize a stagnating tablet market, Apple is slated to unveil a significantly updated iPad Pro next year. Once perceived as the potential heir to the Mac throne, the tablet market, and notably the iPad, has been facing headwinds. As Bloomberg points out, the iPad now stands as the least revenue-generating segment among Apple's major product lines.
According to IDC, the past quarter saw sales plummet to levels reminiscent of early 2020, marking a concerning 17% dip in unit shipments. While Apple cites challenging year-on-year comparisons due to the previous year's iPad Air launch, it's evident that the entire tablet industry is grappling with broader issues.
And this is the problem for Apple. The iPad is the most popular tablet and the best-selling on the market. However, the tablet market as a whole is completely stagnant and the iPad is not immune from that. Problematically, it is unlikely this will change as people simply do not need to renew their tablets as often as they do smartphones.
Even if Apple overhauls the iPad, it is unlikely to drive a significant change in sales. We have seen this happen before with the iPod and iPod Touch. Both – especially the iPod – were incredibly successful but the market eventually moved on. Apple kept supporting and delivering new models even during the stagnation, but ultimately abandoned iPod. Could a similar fate be awaiting iPad?
Unraveling the iPad's Decline
Apple too has hardly helped the iPad brand. Several intertwined factors have contributed to the iPad's dwindling allure:
- Stagnant Updates: Recent updates have been underwhelming. The 10th-generation iPad, launched last October, was the most notable in recent times. The Pro version hasn't witnessed a significant revamp since 2018, and the Mini has been static for two years.
- A Maze of Choices: Apple's website presents a bewildering array of iPad models and generations, leading to consumer confusion.
- Internal Competition: The Mac, post its in-house chip transition, has emerged as a formidable rival to the iPad, boasting enhanced durability and cost-effectiveness.
- Software Hiccups: Features like the Stage Manager, intended to simplify multitasking, have ironically added to user complexity.
Apple's Dominance Remains Unchallenged
Despite these setbacks, Apple's stronghold in the tablet domain remains unassailable. The tech giant clinched 37% of tablet shipments in the last quarter. While its sales trajectory is downward, its competitors are plummeting at an even brisker pace. Xiaomi emerges as a silver lining, registering a 42% uptick in shipments, albeit from a smaller base. Apple's forthcoming iPad Pro models, codenamed J717, J718, J720, and J721, promise a slew of enticing features:
- The M3 Chip: This next-gen chip is set to be the powerhouse behind the new models.
- OLED Displays: Marking their debut in Apple's tablets, these displays promise sharper, more vibrant visuals.
- Diverse Sizes: The lineup will feature 11-inch and 13-inch variants, with the latter seeing a slight size increment from the current 12.9 inches.
- A Reimagined Magic Keyboard: Addressing past grievances, the new keyboard will sport a more expansive trackpad.