John Gruber on the relatively mediocre iPad sales announced at Monday’s earnings call:
My reading on this: lots of people are still buying their first iPad — 40 percent of sales in the U.S., a remarkable 70 percent in China. So the market for “tablets” is not saturated. Usage numbers and customer satisfaction are high too, so it’s not that people who bought iPads previously aren’t happy with them. The problem, thus, is that older iPads continue to work just fine. People don’t replace them every two or three years like they do with their phones.
Part of me worries that, in addition to Gruber’s reasoning, Apple isn’t giving potential buyers enough reasons to purchase a new iPad. Aside from the ever shrinking thickness of both the chassis and the bezel, improving the display, and adding a few color options (which I would consider all to be minor iterations), Apple hasn’t really done anything in the way of hardware redesigns since the iPad mini in 2012.
I think one of the reasons Apple has been so successful with their other product lines is by introducing drastic new hardware designs every yeat or two. This gives existing customers the feeling that the devices they have are old which encourages them to upgrade. And, it gives potential new customers something different that could attract them to switch where previous designs couldn’t.
It feels like the driving force behind the iPad’s hardware development is the internal components instead of the aesthetics of the design. This feels a lot more like the way Apple develops their Mac lineup and less like the iPhone or iPod during its hey day. This could mean we’ll see a brand new iPad design every few years and I hope we’re coming up on it soon.
I also don’t want to discount the possability of cannibalization by larger screen iPhones. If you only have room in your budget for one device but are interested in the iPad, the iPhone 6 Plus seems like the logical choice.