iPad: Big revenue drop shows it’s not a replacement for the Mac

iPad revenue dropped again, while Mac sales increased. Tim Cook was wrong, the iPad is not a replacement for the Mac

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Apple announced its financial results yesterday, and the company did quite well. But there was one product that showed remarkable weakness and it wasn’t the Mac. iPad revenue dropped a whopping 22 percent in the holiday quarter!

Roger Fingers reports for AppleInsider:

For the holiday quarter, iPad sales fell to just over 13 million units from more than 16.1 million in the year ago period, Apple revealed in official data released on Tuesday. Accordingly, iPad revenue was down 22 percent from just over $7 billion to about $5.5 billion.

With some exceptions, iPad sales have been shrinking for the past few years. Compared with the first quarter of 2015, in fact, the company shipped over 8 million fewer units.

The iPhone saw shipments of about 78.3 million during the most recent quarter, up 5 percent. Mac units were up 1 percent to just under 5.4 million. All told, the company hit record quarterly revenue of $78.4 billion.

More at AppleInsider

Take note of the fact that Mac sales were up one percent, while iPad revenue continued to drop. Why is this significant? Well if you listen to Tim Cook and others, you’d have thought that the iPad was well on its way to replacing the Mac as many people’s primary computing device.

That obviously isn’t the case, and I hope the folks running Apple finally realize now that the iPad is not a replacement for the Mac and won’t be for the foreseeable future. Many of Apple’s customers still need Macs and aren’t willing to settle for an iPad as a replacement.

Don’t get me wrong here, I love my iPad Pro. It’s a great device and I use it every day. But I cannot work on my iPad Pro, I need a Mac to get things done. iOS still has not matured to the point where it can replace macOS for me, and I don’t see it improving enough in the near future for me to dump my Mac.

Apple, of course, has angered many longtime Mac users by regarding the iPhone and other products as being more important than the Mac. Hardware updates to the Mac have lagged, and nobody even knows if the Mac Pro and Mac mini will ever get updated again.

So Apple would do well to realize that the Mac is still one of its most important products, and it should make sure that it publishes a road-map for the Mac and then updates its Mac line regularly and predictably.

Apple’s customers have voted with their dollars, and it’s crystal clear that very few of them believe that the iPad is a replacement for the Mac. If people could replace their Macs with iPads, iPad sales would be up and Mac sales would be down instead of the other way around.

Is anybody at Apple listening? Somehow I doubt it. Instead we'll probably get more propaganda from the company pushing the iPad as a Mac replacement when a new version of the iPad is ready for release. Hey, if you keep saying something over and over again, maybe someday it will be true, right?

I'm not the only one who took note of the drop in iPad sales, AppleInsider readers also shared their thoughts in a discussion thread. So I'll leave you with this selection of comments from the AppleInsider forum:

bcubed1979: “For God's sake, revitalize the Mac lineup, introduce something truly differentiating for the iPhone and make the iPad more versatile (more MacOS -like). At some point, it would be great to have one AppleOS for all devices. ”

MplsP: “…iOS is so crippled when it comes to actual productivity work that I can't really consider it. If all you're doing is consuming, then staying in the mac ecosystem isn't as important. I wish Apple would update iOS to be more than just a smart phone OS scaled up for a tablet.”

Bestkeptsecret: “I expect the replacement cycle will be very similar to Macs. It is no surprise that Mac sales this quarter exceeded iPad sales. There was a new Mac released. I expect iPad sales to be slightly higher in the quarter that they release a new model. But on across a year, I'd expect Mac and iPad sales to be somewhat similar.”

Appex: “Apple should make a true Mac tablet with Intel x86 inside, USB ports, visible file system, etc.”

Robin Huber: “Not everyone wants a laptop in tablet clothing. My aging original iPad Air was due for replacement and I hoped for the lighter and better version of the Air 2. Instead, an artist's studio that was even heavier than my old Air. I just want to consume content, not create it. So, I am sitting on my wallet until Apple offers an iPad for the rest of us. No wonder sales are down.”

Rogifan_new: “No new models released last fall and no software changes. If iPad doesn't get some software love this year these numbers will continue to decline at at least in the consumer space. iPad's problem is not hardware it's software. But my fear is Apple doesn't recognize that because enterprise sales are still strong. But most likely enterprises are using custom apps and using the device as a general purpose computer.

Give me a file system and drag and drop for split screen and I'd be very happy, I know some want windowing and cursor but to me that's perhaps a step to far and starting to turn it into a Mac.”

More at AppleInsider

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