How far can the iPad fall?

“Many observers have been waiting for a while now for the iPad to find its level–for sales to flatten back out and reveal what size Apple’s iPad business will really be going forward. It’s clear that the heady days where Apple sold 80 million iPads in a year are gone, and won’t be coming back for quite a while. But as sales continue to decline, it’s worth asking when it will all stop.

At this point, Apple’s selling iPads at a rate of approximately 48 million iPads per year–roughly the rate it was selling them in 2011, at the very start of the iPad’s lifespan, just before iPad sales kicked into gear. So is this the bottom? Or will it get worse before it gets better?”

Jason Snell ponders the future of the iPad. He particularly looks at four points that may have contributed to its fall in sales, but none of them answer the problem entirely. I think the iPad solved a problem that many people didn’t know they had, but that most people simply don’t need or want one.

As tech writers, we tend to assume that everyone has a computer (or used to), and needs a computing device. More and more people make do with their smartphones – hence the success of phablets – and don’t need anything else. I know lots of people who love the iPad, and use it as their “computer,” not owning a device with a keyboard and display. But maybe there aren’t that many who really need such a device. And those who do, maybe they don’t feel the need to upgrade. I’m sure Apple is trying to figure this out, and, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that their solution – the iPad Pro – is the right one. Maybe they’ll finally have to compete on price.

Source: How far can the iPad fall? | Macworld

26 thoughts on “How far can the iPad fall?

  1. Good article by Snell, While he covers a bunch of genuinely important reasons for the drop, he misses the *core* reason: the iPad Pro simply isn’t big enough.

    Introduce a model twice as large, and sales will take off through the roof. (Plus, sales of the new Apple Magic Marker™ will add significant additional revenue.)

  2. Good article by Snell, While he covers a bunch of genuinely important reasons for the drop, he misses the *core* reason: the iPad Pro simply isn’t big enough.

    Introduce a model twice as large, and sales will take off through the roof. (Plus, sales of the new Apple Magic Marker™ will add significant additional revenue.)

  3. I’m sure I’m in the minority here but I’d like to pass my experience along as a data point. My day job is in a bank, my main non-professional interest and activity is music, as a performer and composer (main instrument: upright and electric bass).

    I invested in iOS in general in large part because the music production side of it started out being exciting. There are incredible apps out there in terms of sound generators, effects, production and so on. There are also a few utilities which really push the boundary of what iOS can do (perhaps better said what Apple allows iOS developers to do).

    Over time, the hoops of getting the an iPad (or any iOS device) integrated into my studio continued to prove a PITA. For example, the lightning connector only allows one USB connection, which can force you to connect a hub which has to be powered and most options simply drain the iOS device’s batter. There are a few alternatives on the market which license the technology from Apple and charge the device at the same time but they are few and expensive.

    Another pain is the sandboxed file structure so it’s painful to migrate audio files from one app to another. Most apps rely on Dropbox (moreso than iCloud) as a solution but this means working offline is not an easy option.

    In the meantime, the Surface Pro appears on the landscape. My wife happened to be in the market for a portable Windows device some months ago and she requested help in deciding what to do. I finally recommended a Surface Pro 3. She has been really happy with the thing. On occasion I’ve taken it aside and looked at it and played around, and also researched its use as a music device. It has a plain old USB port, separate from the charger. It runs Win 10, akin in beefiness and flexibility to OS X, in that you can run high end music software.

    For a while now, I’ve been contemplating what I would get as a follow up to my iPad and I am leaning heavily toward a Surface Pro 4 (which has USB 3). I can have a music production environment that is similar to the one on my older Macbook Pro, a large crisp display, decent keyboard + option of mouse other pointer device (aside from touch). Obstcles to music production diminsh considerably with this device compared to an iPad.

    The iPad app ecosystem remains #1, for sure. But for serious music production software you really need a plain old installable binary, whether it’s Win or Mac o Linux.

    I think if Apple had progressively made iOS less restrictive and far more integrated with the Mac desktop I wouldn’t seriously consider the Surface Pro. (Forcing me to share files with a wifi connection, via Dropbox, or, worse, offline via iTunes, is unacceptable.)

    My wife also has an iPad Mini which I got her. She tried doing some of her work on it but became too frustrated. Part of that was probably the screen size but she also does lots of work in Office documents, so sharing files is an issue for her, too.

    Both these use cases are more oriented towards professional or, at least non-average-consumer, use, of course, which was not really the original target for Apple. I have no doubt, though, that Apple would’ve loved to swarm the corporate market with iPads. I think that was never a strong possibility but the way I see it the possibility gets more and more remote over time.

  4. I’m sure I’m in the minority here but I’d like to pass my experience along as a data point. My day job is in a bank, my main non-professional interest and activity is music, as a performer and composer (main instrument: upright and electric bass).

    I invested in iOS in general in large part because the music production side of it started out being exciting. There are incredible apps out there in terms of sound generators, effects, production and so on. There are also a few utilities which really push the boundary of what iOS can do (perhaps better said what Apple allows iOS developers to do).

    Over time, the hoops of getting the an iPad (or any iOS device) integrated into my studio continued to prove a PITA. For example, the lightning connector only allows one USB connection, which can force you to connect a hub which has to be powered and most options simply drain the iOS device’s batter. There are a few alternatives on the market which license the technology from Apple and charge the device at the same time but they are few and expensive.

    Another pain is the sandboxed file structure so it’s painful to migrate audio files from one app to another. Most apps rely on Dropbox (moreso than iCloud) as a solution but this means working offline is not an easy option.

    In the meantime, the Surface Pro appears on the landscape. My wife happened to be in the market for a portable Windows device some months ago and she requested help in deciding what to do. I finally recommended a Surface Pro 3. She has been really happy with the thing. On occasion I’ve taken it aside and looked at it and played around, and also researched its use as a music device. It has a plain old USB port, separate from the charger. It runs Win 10, akin in beefiness and flexibility to OS X, in that you can run high end music software.

    For a while now, I’ve been contemplating what I would get as a follow up to my iPad and I am leaning heavily toward a Surface Pro 4 (which has USB 3). I can have a music production environment that is similar to the one on my older Macbook Pro, a large crisp display, decent keyboard + option of mouse other pointer device (aside from touch). Obstcles to music production diminsh considerably with this device compared to an iPad.

    The iPad app ecosystem remains #1, for sure. But for serious music production software you really need a plain old installable binary, whether it’s Win or Mac o Linux.

    I think if Apple had progressively made iOS less restrictive and far more integrated with the Mac desktop I wouldn’t seriously consider the Surface Pro. (Forcing me to share files with a wifi connection, via Dropbox, or, worse, offline via iTunes, is unacceptable.)

    My wife also has an iPad Mini which I got her. She tried doing some of her work on it but became too frustrated. Part of that was probably the screen size but she also does lots of work in Office documents, so sharing files is an issue for her, too.

    Both these use cases are more oriented towards professional or, at least non-average-consumer, use, of course, which was not really the original target for Apple. I have no doubt, though, that Apple would’ve loved to swarm the corporate market with iPads. I think that was never a strong possibility but the way I see it the possibility gets more and more remote over time.

  5. More seriously, I think Miguel Marcos hits on something quite important Snell missed.

    iOS, despite all Cupertino’s protests to the contrary, just isn’t designed for professional productivity usage.

    As long as that continues, the iPad’s market is really only as a consumption device.

  6. More seriously, I think Miguel Marcos hits on something quite important Snell missed.

    iOS, despite all Cupertino’s protests to the contrary, just isn’t designed for professional productivity usage.

    As long as that continues, the iPad’s market is really only as a consumption device.

  7. yes it’s for consumption. I use Forscore (ios only) for my music scores and have a Galaxy tab A for Roonlabs.

  8. yes it’s for consumption. I use Forscore (ios only) for my music scores and have a Galaxy tab A for Roonlabs.

  9. “yes it’s for consumption. I use Forscore (ios only) for my music scores and have a Galaxy tab A for Roonlabs.”

    Honestly dunno the field. Sarcasm or agreement?

    If sarcasm, (or even if not), I’m sure there are plentiful edge cases where iOS is just fine. But edge cases nonetheless. The reports I see seem to indicate the usefulness of iOS for pro productivity usage is limited *in comparison to* alternatives…

  10. “yes it’s for consumption. I use Forscore (ios only) for my music scores and have a Galaxy tab A for Roonlabs.”

    Honestly dunno the field. Sarcasm or agreement?

    If sarcasm, (or even if not), I’m sure there are plentiful edge cases where iOS is just fine. But edge cases nonetheless. The reports I see seem to indicate the usefulness of iOS for pro productivity usage is limited *in comparison to* alternatives…

  11. for a pro too: my wife is in the HRM (don’t say recruiting ?) and always searching Linkedin with the ipad. Since Word for ios is available she ditched pages (gone are conversionproblems) and yes now there is some kind of production from the couch. Typng with the indexfinger; it’s possible ?

    for music I have Kawai’s Touchnotation for ios. Just figuring out.

  12. for a pro too: my wife is in the HRM (don’t say recruiting ?) and always searching Linkedin with the ipad. Since Word for ios is available she ditched pages (gone are conversionproblems) and yes now there is some kind of production from the couch. Typng with the indexfinger; it’s possible ?

    for music I have Kawai’s Touchnotation for ios. Just figuring out.

  13. Touchnotation looks pretty good though I haven’t tried it out. I keep hearing really superb things about Staffpad and the videos I’ve seen seem to support that. It is not app-priced, it’s $70, I think.

  14. Touchnotation looks pretty good though I haven’t tried it out. I keep hearing really superb things about Staffpad and the videos I’ve seen seem to support that. It is not app-priced, it’s $70, I think.

  15. Good points Miguel.

    My experience might be more typical…and boring.

    I bought an iPad (2010) and replaced it with an iPad 2 (2011), which was a huge improvement.

    I mainly use it as a “lean-back” device for reading, email, web browsing, and some video-watching. I love Garageband, but I’m no pro, and only use it from time to time.

    Four years down the road, and the iPad 2 is only now becoming to slow to run the newest iOS, only now becoming useless for these simple tasks.

    What did I do? Put down another $500 or more on a new iPad?

    Nope. I bought a $50 Kindle Fire. It’s underpowered, it has very little RAM, and it’s screen pales against today’s standard (though not bad next to my old iPad).

    And I can read, browse, email, and watch videos just fine on it.

    I miss the fit and finish of Apple hardware, the polish of iOS, and most of all, Garageband.

    I’m getting 80% of the iPad’s value for 10% of the price.

    Which brings us back to Kirk’s closing point: maybe it’s time for Apple to compete on price.

  16. Good points Miguel.

    My experience might be more typical…and boring.

    I bought an iPad (2010) and replaced it with an iPad 2 (2011), which was a huge improvement.

    I mainly use it as a “lean-back” device for reading, email, web browsing, and some video-watching. I love Garageband, but I’m no pro, and only use it from time to time.

    Four years down the road, and the iPad 2 is only now becoming to slow to run the newest iOS, only now becoming useless for these simple tasks.

    What did I do? Put down another $500 or more on a new iPad?

    Nope. I bought a $50 Kindle Fire. It’s underpowered, it has very little RAM, and it’s screen pales against today’s standard (though not bad next to my old iPad).

    And I can read, browse, email, and watch videos just fine on it.

    I miss the fit and finish of Apple hardware, the polish of iOS, and most of all, Garageband.

    I’m getting 80% of the iPad’s value for 10% of the price.

    Which brings us back to Kirk’s closing point: maybe it’s time for Apple to compete on price.

  17. you can do garageband with a sh macbookpro 2008 upgraded with ssd.
    here no kindle fire although looked at it. specific 64bit Roon app, so tab A.

  18. you can do garageband with a sh macbookpro 2008 upgraded with ssd.
    here no kindle fire although looked at it. specific 64bit Roon app, so tab A.

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