What's going on with the iPad? It was supposed to be the third leg of the iPhone/Mac/iPad stool, but sales are down and so is market share.
According to the latest data from IDC, Apple controls 24.5% of the worldwide tablet market as of the second calendar quarter of 2015. That's still good enough for first place by a wide margin, but it's off nearly 18% year-over-year, from 27.7% in 2014.
The number two tablet maker, Samsung, saw a 12% drop in share over the same time period, while the overall tablet market shrank by 7%.
As seen above, Apple has seen a steady drop in iPad sales over the past few years (though the holiday quarters have done well), best recognized via the one-year moving average. iPad sales rose steadily for the first three years of its availability, flattened out, and have since started to decline.
Apple still holds significant share of the premium tablet market (76% share of the US tablet market over $200, according to NPD), but the falling sales numbers are still a concern. IDC analysts blame the fall on longer life cycles, increased competition from larger smartphones like the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and the fact that owners of older tablets can continue to run the latest operating systems.
Still, the new business-friendly iPad features, expected this fall in iOS 9, may juice sales a bit—especially among the enterprise set.
Business is one of Apple's strong suits for the iPad, and one that Apple CEO Tim Cook frequently talks up in earnings calls. In the latest call last week, Cook said "I am still bullish on iPad," promising that the enterprise business was "clearly picking up."
He noted that iPads are used much more than competing products, saying that he sees "a lot of runway." He also cited a 70% purchase intent on iPads from enterprise buyers who were looking at buying tablets.
All these numbers are great, but what's going on? For Apple, I believe that as long as total iOS sales (iPhone plus iPad) are up, the company will be pleased. I know that since I purchased my iPhone 6 Plus (the larger of the two new iPhone models) nine months ago, I've barely touched my iPad mini—and I hear, anecdotally, from friends and colleagues that I am far from alone in that.
The larger screened iPhones are very popular and, naturally, the iPad has taken a hit. This is true for large-screened Android phones as well, I'm sure.
Still, the iPad has its place and, if persistent rumors are to be believed, Apple is planning a 12-inch iPad Pro model to be released this fall. It would take even better advantage of the new iOS 9 iPad features like Split View (two-app multitasking) and Picture-In-Picture (run a video on top of a separate app).
It's also important to remember that Apple has sold 57.3 million iPads in the past year, amounting to a $24 billion business—that's nothing to sneeze at. The company will keep making new tablets, and there will continue to be a market for them. The question is, how big will that market be? We'll have to wait and see.
Are you using your tablet as much as you used to? Planning on buying one soon? Let us know your thoughts and plans in the comments below.
- Tim Cook reaffirms his belief in the iPad's potential
- With so many iPad SKUs, has Apple lost its focus?
- IBM unveils its first 10 enterprise apps from its partnership with Apple
- The iPad will be even more business-savvy when iOS 9 comes out
Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.