Despite Apple’s Corporate Efforts and Optimism, iPad Sales Languish

| Analysis

Despite Apple's efforts to boost iPad sales, those efforts aren't showing up in sales numbers. The iPad Pro (12.9-inch), discounting the typical exuberance of the holiday quarter (Apple's Q1), didn't seem to create much of an uptick. But CEO Tim Cook seems to have his hopes up for the next quarter's revenue, at least, when the iPad Pro line's sales make their mark.


During Apple's 2016 Q2 Earnings Report, Apple reported iPad sales of 10.25 million. This can be compared to the most recent non-holiday quarter 2015 Q4 of 9.88 million. This was the last quarter before the iPad Pro (12.9-inch) was introduced in November, 2015.

If there was a rush on the iPad Pro (12.9-inch) in Q1, it didn't seem to continue into the most recent Q2.

Sales vs Revenue

However, Tim Cook, in the earnings report, was optimistic in very specific terms and said that, "In the June quarter (Q3), we expect to see our best iPad revenue compare in over two years." What that means is that he expects the iPad revenue in 2016 Q3 to be better than the revenue was in 2015 and 2014 Q3. That's probably due to the increase in iPad Pro Average Selling Price (ASP) thanks to the US$100 premium of the iPad Pro (9.7-inch) and the higher price of the iPad Pro (12.9-inch).

iPad unit sales (millions) since 2010, by quarter.

However, in practical terms, CFO Luca Maestri later in the call punctuated short-term reality, referring to the upcoming quarter, and said, "We expect seasonal sequential declines in iPhone and iPad sales." Meaning the number of units sold. That won't look so good.

While Apple and investors will likely be pleased that Apple will make more money on iPads compared to recent years, it would still be pleasing to see the number of units sold increase. Observers notice things like that, and it's a good measure of the health of the product line.

Boost Phase

Apple is clearly looking to boost iPad sales with a variety of techniques. The work with IBM and its corporate customers, improvements to iOS 9 (split view, slide over, PIP), better hardware in the iPad Pro line, including better displays, speakers, the Apple Pencil, and the attempt to woo PC users into the iPad tablet fold have been prominent.

However, Apple's iPad customers remain remarkably recalcitrant. It remains to be seen if all the things Apple is doing to breathe new life into the iPad will work. The nature of iOS 10, likely announced at WWDC in June, may tell us more about how Apple intends to exploit the hardware of the new iPad Pro line.

This iPad revitalization is going to take some time, but as old iPads age, time is on Apple's side.

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Yes as they age, but an iPad is good for a lot longer than a phone. I’m using my iPad Air and see no reason to upgrade it. It’ll be like my Mac: I run it until there’s something it WON’T do that I need, and I’m really good at making due and workarounds.

The other thing that’s holding the iPad back is iOS. Yes they have added some features, splitview, slideover, pip, but it’s still basically an OS designed for a 4 inch screen on a phone. These additions only make it clear how much farther a dedicated padOS could go to making the iPad really sing.


Our family still is using our iPad 2 on a daily basis. Great hardware, Great longevity.
We plan on getting the big iPad pro with a pencil for this next holiday season. I would love to see a refresh on the hardware so I can use it for the next 6-8 years also.

Couldn’t be happier having an iPad in the arsenal.


“Efforts”? Apple just keeps regurgitating products and is no longer even trying to be an industry leader. With such little effort then Apple should be commended for maintaining their market share.

It’s a shame because we all know that Apple is capable of just about anything. But the only notable product they’ve come out with in the last few years is the Watch. And that one they go so caught up in pretending to know fashion that they forgot to consider the user experience.

Apple can do better and I hope the media reminds them of that.


Speaking for myself (though it certainly appears that I am not alone), I just can’t do my work within the confines of an iPad screen. It just isn’t going to happen, it doesn’t matter how mind blowing the tech inside is.

It really is symptomatic of the industry as a whole, though - most smartphones are plenty capable at this point, not everyone wants wearables, the internet of things is more annoying than innovative and at a premium cost, and even trends like VR have such a steep cost of entry that it is unlikely regular consumers will be jumping on board en masse anytime soon.

I think tech in general is headed for a big downturn, and in comparison, relatively speaking, Apple will likely do just fine. Naturally Wall Street will balk, but when don’t they?

Shameer Mulji 1

If there’s any sentiment that sums up the iPad / tablet market, it’s these tweest:

• iPad meteoric rise was tied to smartphone boom

• Phones replaced PC for many

• Big phones replaced iPads for many

• iPad Pro is a 1.0

- @neilcybart right it is a segment issue tablets are not a must have and they r less and less so as phones grow in size, storage and speed

In a nutshell: In the mainstream consumer market, as smartphones get bigger / more powerful, they are replacing tablets / PC’s for a majority of people. Larger-screen / 2nd-screen devices aren’t necessary, which is why Apple has re-oriented its marketing for iPad towards the Pro / enterprise market.


Personally I like having a phone.
I also like a larger screen for an iPad type device.
Why not just have both?

I actually think the iPad is necessary for some things. No phone can be big enough to do what the iPad easily does due to screen size. I wouldn’t want to do some of the things I envision on the large iPad pro on any of the iPhones.

As you point out Shammer Multi 1, I can see the iPad pro line becoming this niche in the market and thus necessary for a certain section of the market.

But I also see the iPad mini’s as necessary for a certain section of the market…. mainly kids. Most of our friends have them for their kids who aren’t really old enough for a phone, but they use them as a general fun and learning device. That segment will continue to be there as well.

It is interesting to watch as the markets morph over time.
I’m just happy they brought back the 5SE since the 6 and 6+ are too big for me. My wife just finally got a 5SE since she has been holding out in hopes of a slightly smaller phone. I hope they eventually come back with a 5 sized phone that will fold in 1/2 to protect the screen like the old clamshell. iPhone Nano or something.


Of course the iPad sales aren’t hot anymore.
—Most people that wanted one, already have one that still works very well.
—Other people bought a large screen iPhone and don’t see a strong need to purchase an iPad anymore.

Old UNIX Guy

I have 3 Apple devices:  1) a Mac, 2) an iPhone 5S, 3) an iPad 2.  This is an aside, but note what’s not listed there and won’t ever be listed there because watches are so 20th century.

But of those devices listed, guess which one I would give up in a heartbeat if I had to give one up?  The iPad.  Hands down.  I can’t imagine life without either my Mac or my iPhone, and I wouldn’t *want* to give up my iPad, but it would be the one to go.

Note that I’m still using an iPad 2.  The only two things that would make me upgrade it are:  1) it dies, 2) a future iOS release doesn’t support the iPad 2 anymore (I’m expecting that one at WWDC).

There are people who are trying to force the iPad down our throats as the best tool for so many things that it’s NOT the best tool for.  Tim Cook is one of those people.

Hey Tim - to borrow from Steve Jobs ... on my way in to work I despise truck drivers.  But when I get to work, I drive a “truck” ... and I always will.  Whether that’s a MBP and / or iMac versus a PC running Linux is up to you and your team.


I like my iPad Air 2 and the portability and capabilities it give me, but I use my Mac a LOT more. I don’t use my iPhone that much to save its battery for when I may really need it…and I don’t want a bigger device in my pocket.

And I agree with Old Unix Guy that Cook needs to focus Apple on keeping making the Mac experience insanely great, as it’s (El Cap) not as good as Mac OS used to be, IMO. Search, iTunes, iCloud and more need to be simpler, more powerful, intuitive and easier to use than they are.


Apple should make a Mac tablet.

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