The iPad Pro will be released later this year, but is it too late for Apple’s tablet line? Photo: Bloomberg
While the puffery back in 2010 might have said the tablet computer was poised to destroy the home PC in a whirl of swipes and mobile productivity, Apple’s recent earnings call would indicate that hasn’t exactly been the case.
While the company’s computers and laptops are still far from outselling its tablets, Apple said it had sold a record 5.7 million Macs in a single quarter while iPad sales slumped to their lowest point since June 2011.
Consequently, sales of Macs are now as close to sales of iPads as they have been since about the time the iPad 2 was launched. If sales for each continued on their current trajectory the computers would overtake the tablets at some point next year.
It isn’t all as simple as that, of course, and looking at the long-term figures the results possibly aren’t all that surprising. iPads have traditionally seen a massive spike in sales each holiday quarter after a period of decline, with that period growing longer with each new iPad introduced (presumably because most people interested in an iPad now have one and don’t need to upgrade). It stands to reason a similar spike will occur next month and in November and December this year, although it’s possible the tablets have truly reached their saturation point.
Meanwhile, Mac sales have been more consistent, with blunter, wider spikes corresponding to the release of new MacBooks (for example the MacBook Air in late 2011 or the Retina MacBook Pros in mid to late 2013). The spike that began with the release of the current MacBook appears to have been bolstered further to produce the record sales level, possibly due to new iMacs (including crazy 4K and 5K models).
Still, with the only new iPads introduced this year being the Mini 4 and the business-focused iPad Pro, the advent of super-light laptops and with the popularity of the large screened iPhone Plus, it could be that there’s not as much room for the iPad as there was just two years ago at its sales peak.