People are beginning to question what’s going on with Apple’s ubiquitous iPad tablet as sales during the first quarter of 2014 dropped 16%. While sales of all tablets worldwide only climbed 4%, it’s still telling that sales of the iPad continue to drop.
The fact is, while Apple has always kept up their winning strategy with their music player, the iPod, after introducing their iPad Mini in 2012 they didn’t and the tablet market, which expanded extremely quickly, caught up to their iPad just as fast, especially since they failed to give consumers the entry-level prices they were looking for.
Looking at overall sales from 2013 the picture is even bleaker as, while sales of the iPad rose 15% to 70 million units, the rest of the tablet market increased to double its previous size at 125 million units. For those who might say that “no name” tablets with booming sales in emerging markets are to blame, the fact is that in France, the United Kingdom and here in the United States, sales of the iPad have been steadily falling as well.
Unfortunately for the consumer electronics giant, their improvements to the iPad, including thinner cases and faster processors, haven’t been enough of a persuasive factor to coax consumers into paying their higher prices rather than purchasing lesser, but lower-priced, tablets.
For the average consumer the power that Apple’s custom-designed A7 processor gives the iPad simply isn’t necessary, as practically no one is using an iPad to, for example, run a full out version of Photoshop. Also, for consumers who use their tablets for gaming, an Android tablet at half the price will suffice.
That wasn’t a problem a few years ago frankly, when the market wasn’t overrun by higher quality, powerful and relatively cheap tablets of all shapes and sizes. In 2011 for example, the average consumer was buying a tablet based more on technological prowess (and they had much fewer choices) but, in 2013, price became much more of a factor as competing tablets began to edge closer to the iPad’s more sophisticated technology.
Another problem that the iPad faces is simply that fewer consumers are upgrading their tablets as frequently as early adopters were upgrading a few years ago, which has slowed down the replacement rate for the entire tablet segment.
John Barrett, an analyst with Parks Associates, says that “We are seeing a bit of the natural adoption cycle going on with the iPad,” adding that “early Buyers want lots of features, which is Apple’s forte. The value shoppers come later and they’re more willing to make trade-offs for price.”
While some believe that the slowdown in the tablet market as a whole is to blame for the reduction in iPad sales, the fact is that at electronics stores across the country salespeople are pitching non-Apple tablets to their customers because of the fact that their computing power and capabilities, while not as good as the iPad, are close and more than adequate.
Add that to the fact that searches on Google show that consumers are increasingly comparing all tablets against each other, rather than just comparing iPad models, and the situation becomes clear; Apple needs to make a bold move in order to recapture the tablet market, or risk losing it altogether.