Apple iPad Sales Slip Again, Where’s the Spark?
Apple’s (AAPL) run of blockbuster quarters has made the company’s stratospheric results seem almost routine, as bizarre as that may sound.
The vendor’s FQ3 report did nothing to dispel the “wow” factor as it sold 47.5 million iPhones during the period, some 35 percent more than it peddled a year ago and found homes for 4.8 million Macs for a respectable 9 percent year-over-year uptick.
Not so for iPads, however. as shipments of the iconic tablet for the period fell to 10.9 million units, an 18 percent unit sales tumble and a 23 percent revenue downturn from the same time last year. When compared to the 12.6 million iPads Apple shipped in Q2 2015, unit sales fell 13 percent and revenue slipped 16 percent in FQ3.
Analysts expected Apple to sell about 10 million iPad units for the quarter, give or take, so the vendor wasn’t that far off. Still, the question remains, has the iPad reached its sales apex or is there still a spark out there to catalyze sales of the platform back to its glory days?
Apple chief executive Tim Cook previously has waved off any concerns over the iPad’s flagging performance, calling it a “speed bump” the company will overcome and claiming “saturation fears are overblown.”
This time, on Apple’s FQ3 2015 earnings call, he again stayed the course but suggested an upgrade cycle will spark higher sales. In other words, if Apple keeps building them, consumers will come. Or does Cook have something else in mind?
“I believe that the iPad consumer upgrade cycle will eventually occur, because as we look at the usage statistics on iPad, it remains unbelievably great,” Cook said. “I mean, the next closest usage of the next competitor, we’re six times greater. And so these are extraordinary numbers. It’s not like people have forgotten iPad or anything, it’s a fantastic product.”
A boom in iPad consumer sales isn’t likely to result from Apple’s long-rumored, 12.9-inch iPad Pro tablet, said to be poised for mass production in the second half of this year. The large screen device may supply an answer to fuel iPad enterprise sales–and give more substance to Apple’s year-old enterprise mobility deal with IBM (IBM)–but no one is yet saying it’s an answer to the vendor’s weakening consumer sales of the tablet.
It looks like we’ve got more waiting to do until Apple explains where this iPad consumer “upgrade cycle” will come from.