Apple’s revolutionary iPad tablet was first launched five years ago last month, on 3 April 2010. Now, 1,825 days, six generations, and nine incarnations later, more than 225 million iPads have been sold. But with sales declining through 2014, is the tablet revolution coming to an end?
When the late Steve Jobs first unveiled the original iPad, its purpose baffled some technology experts. Too big to be a comfortably-handheld device and too small to be serious work tool, many failed to see how it would be embraced. “Unlike the iPhone, which filled an already well-established need there is no existing need the iPad fills,” said TechCrunch blogger MG Siegler back in 2010.
And then? A whopping 300,000 units sold in the first 24 hours. The iPad’s popularity grew and grew, but its fortunes might be changing. Sales for the iPad dropped 18 per cent in the final quarter of 2014 alone, according to CNN Money, with a further five per cent decline predicted in 2015.
“We are seeing a strong shift from tablets to smartphones as the lines blur between smartphones, phablets, and tablets,” said industry expert Giulio Montemagno, of SVP International RetailMeNot. Indeed, only a little over a week ago (April 27) Apple revealed that it sold 4.56 million Macs in the first three months of 2015; a ten per cent increase on the same period in 2014. This helped produce a $5.6 billion Mac revenue line that’s $187 million more than that of the iPad.
Could it be crunch time for Apple iPad?
But is it really over after just five years? Not according to Martyn Landi, a press association technology correspondent. “There are still flashes of life in the iPad,” he said. “It’s still the fastest selling product in Apple history with more than a quarter of a billion sold in five years – and that’s quite something up against the iPhone and iPod.
“iPad numbers were always going to fall at some point because they had a huge market share to begin with – 75 per cent after the first year of iPad – and that was always unlikely to be sustainable once the competition got involved.”
Phablets such as the Samsung Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus (as well as wearables such as the newly launched Apple Watch), might have a temporary sleeper hold on the iPad right now, but that doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of it. However, all good things must come to an end, and the chances of the iPad ever reaching such lofty heights again are unlikely. Either way, Happy 5th Birthday, iPad!