Dropping tablet sales: Blame Apple

Dropping tablet sales: Blame Apple

Summary: The numbers are in and it seems tablet sales are dropping across the industry. You can thank Apple for selling too many iPads.

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iPad Air
(Image: Apple)

Analysts are all over Apple for its latest numbers of iPad sales. Wall Street expected 20 million iPads to fly off the shelves in the latest quarter but Apple only sold 16 million. This leads to speculation that the company is doomed as it can no longer persuade enough buyers to scarf up new iPads.

That's exaggerated, and Apple is not the only company failing to sell enough tablets according to pundits. Tablet sales are down across the board, and we can blame Apple for it.

First and foremost, selling 16 million iPads is not a bad thing. That's a lot of iPads sold in a market where it seems everybody already owns one. You see iPads everywhere you go, and it's no surprise to this writer that consumer sales of them are slowing down.

It's called market saturation, and it's due to Apple's selling 210 million iPads to date. That figure was thrown out by Apple while sharing the "dismal" sales figures.

Samsung, Apple's biggest rival in the tablet space, has sold a lot of tablets, too. Put them together and it's a safe bet most buyers who want a tablet already own one. Sales must slow as a result of that alone.

The number of iPads sold to date is a staggering number. Selling 210 million of anything is rare in an industry where the product retails for hundreds of dollars. It's no wonder Apple's profitability has been so high for so long.

Going forward, that you see iPads everywhere you go may keep sales lower than in the past. The iPad is not cheap and is no impulse buy. Current owners are not likely to upgrade to the latest model. It doesn't help that customer satisfaction is always high for the iPad according to Apple. Why upgrade when you like the one you have so much?

Tablets are not for everyone, and we may be hitting a wall given the staggering sales of iPads the last few years. Most likely a high percentage of those wanting a tablet already have one. That's why you see iPads everywhere. While not everybody owns one, most who are a good fit for a tablet probably do.

So blame Apple for the tablet sales slump. It sold so many for so long that chances are prospective buyers already have one. They love it dearly, too, so they're not likely to swap it for a new tablet, iPad or otherwise. Samsung, Apple, and other tablet makers are thus scrambling for a tiny piece of the remaining tablet pie.

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Topics: Mobility, Apple, iPad, Samsung, Tablets

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17 comments
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  • can not agree

    Apple has created the tablet market entirely. MS had created the tablet without understanding it's potential. However, the market has reacted very strongly. And now, many people have one or even two like myself. I don't need to upgrade for now even if Apple released a new one made with gold. Don't blame Apple. Blame the consumers for overreacting.
    gbouchard99@...
    • So You Say

      the exact same thing as he author, yet you disagree with him?

      There's a term for that.

      I forget how it goes; but, I think that it has something to do with protecting a honey pot?
      Mujibahr
  • It's called Market Saturation

    With even the cheapest tablets running around 70.00 and decent ones for 150.00, pretty much anyone who wants one....has one.

    Until you can do new things with a tablet, there is no real reason to buy an upgraded one. Apples game of incremental "innovations" like high resolution screens or thinner tablets has gotten old for consumers. Those features do nothing to improve the basic functions of the tablet.

    Consumers figured out the game IMO.
    GotThumbs
  • Prices must come down...

    If Apple wants to keep selling iPads prices are going to have to come down. Fact is, these devices have become so capable there really isn't that much reason to upgrade to the latest and greatest device, especially if prices start at $500.00.

    I just bought a 10" Samsung Galaxy Tab 4, to replace my ASUS transformer, and the former tablet's $320.00 price was a significant incentive to do so. Honestly, the only reason I replaced the Transformer is because Chrome is a stuttering, lumbering, slow mess on that device, and most of what I do with my tablet is web surfing.

    If Apple could get to the point where it's selling iPads for $300 and iPad mini's for $250, they could probably make relatively minor improvements year to year and keep moving inventory.
    dsf3g
    • But why?

      Based on your wise counsel, why should Apple sell nearly unprofitable iPads merely to move inventory?
      vanax
      • What makes you think those prices are unprofitable?

        Apple has the highest margins of any PC maker in the industry.

        Good for them if they can continue to maintain those margins, but that may not be possible moving forward.

        Tablet and phone hardware is quickly becoming a commodity feature. The same happened to PCs which prompted drastic price wars and margin cuts. Hard to see why that will not repeat for phones and tablets as well.
        Emacho
      • Unprofitable?

        If Samsung can turn a profit on a $320 10" tablet today, I imagine Apple could produce a profitable iPad at a similar price point some time in the future.

        The alternative is what is described in this story: slow sales of an expensive product whose adoption rate has led to market saturation.
        dsf3g
    • Whereas on Android..

      ...where the OS and backbone services are free(so we keep being told), there is a cost to Apple developing, maintaining and extending iOS software for their devices. It's not a 'no cost' commodity that fell out of a tree.
      frogspaw
  • It makes for good attention grabbing headlines. That's it.

    There's still plenty of innovation left in the tablet market and plenty more consumers, businesses who have not jump inboard yet. Tablets will be just as important as smart phones going forward in this ever increasing mobile world.

    But now that Apple is doomed and their tablets are tanking (right), shouldn't we expect some other company to now step up and carry the innovative torch? Where are they? Step out of Apples coattail. What will happen is Apple will release their next gen iPads and just like we've seen with the iPod market years prior, and the iPhone, all talks about a slowdown will come to a halt.
    dave95.
  • Market saturation

    Just a canard. While it is no secret that the iPad is very underpowered compared to a MBP or even a MBA, there is plenty of room for improvement. Build a better mouse trap and they will beat a path to your door. Apple however is milking the revenue from a very segmented market rather than give MBP and MBA users that kind of power in a tablet.
    CornheadsBack
  • don't forget Microsoft

    As more and more cheap well running 2 in 1 form factors sell I think the need for dedicated tablets is going to shrink. I'm not someone who thinks you can't be productive on a tablet but certainly not as productive as a full ms os. Thus decision was just made in my household. My wife wanted a ten inch tablet but also wanted full office and adobe apps. So we bought her a 2 in 1. Meets all her needs pretty damn well. I think many people will be deciding similarly.
    jivester
  • oes this mean

    That we are entering a post tablet era? Tablet sales are dropping, just like PC sales. So that must mean we are entering a post-pc-post-tablet era. See I can be an analyst as well.
    schultzycom
  • ASUS T-100

    The ASUS T-100 and similar 2-in-1 devices cannot be helping tablet sales. Why bother with an iPad when I can get a full Windows 8.1 device that connects to the same peripherals as my other Windows machines, especially when it costs less (including a copy of Office) than an iPad? If you are already invested in the Apple ecosystem and have no Windows devices it might make sense, but if you are not already an Apple user I don't see a compelling reason to learn to use a new OS.
    john-whorfin
    • iTunes runs on windows8.1 tablets

      So a iPad user can get all their movies and music on any Windows tablet, save SurfaceRT.

      For that matter, almost any music player will import iTunes playlist into their apps as purchased songs. I think there is a way to do that with movies also, but could be wrong on that.
      Emacho
  • Dropping tablet sales: Blame Apple

    I can blame Apple but not because everyone has a tablet but because they popularized a poor form factor. Many people bought into the tablet hype and realized how limited of a device it was. Now we are finally seeing this fad go away.
    Loverock.Davidson
    • So...

      Your contention is that 200million folks got nothing for their money and are now suffering buyers remorse? Or is it that your personal view trumps that of 200million folks who think otherwise?
      I just can't see how the existence of the iPad and the other copies, limits yor choices in any way at all. Without the iPad, it's doubtful that MS would have come up with the Surface so isn't that something to be thankful for?
      frogspaw
  • squeezed by big phones too

    You really can't report dropping tablet sales and just conclude "market saturation" someone mentioned the hybrid laptop form factors above; those plus phablet style phones, you really need to ask whether the form factor will increasingly be squeezed out of existence, a bit like the iPod has been.
    paul@...