Apple's iPads: 4 Things To Watch In 2015 - InformationWeek

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12/29/2014
08:16 AM
Michael Endler
Michael Endler
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Apple's iPads: 4 Things To Watch In 2015

Apple's iPad sales slowed down in 2014, but the company can open new avenues for growth in 2015, especially among enterprise customers.

Top 10 Social Media Fails Of 2014
Top 10 Social Media Fails Of 2014
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Only a year ago, Apple's iPad was still the darling of the tech industry. The fastest-selling product line in Apple's estimable history, iPads soared to meteoric heights as the PC market came crashing down, prompting more than a few tech commentators to predict tablets would obviate the need for PCs for most users. Throughout 2014, however, this iPad narrative changed.

After posting fantastic Q1 sales on the strength of its new iPad Air, Apple has suffered three consecutive quarters of falling tablet sales. Apple scored a few points this fall when it launched the iPad Air 2, with many reviewers hailing the device as the best tablet available. But even as pundits showered the device with praise, most admitted it was an incremental upgrade -- thinner and faster than its predecessor, with a Touch ID scanner and a nicer screen, but not a significant upgrade in terms of functionality.

The company's iPad Mini refresh was even more modest; Apple essentially stuck a Touch ID on last year's model, added a gold color option, and called it a day. Recently, Apple has actually earned more money from Macs than iPads, which is pretty amazing, given that not long ago iPads were characterized as PC killers. Apple's iPad business also sustained some PR bruises, notably the disintegration of its landmark iPad deal with LA Unified school district.

[Will Apple win big with its upcoming smartwarch? See Wearables In 2015: 4 Predictions.]

To be fair to Apple, the entire tablet market slowed this year -- from over 50% growth in 2013 to only around 7% growth in 2014, according to research firm IDC. Shoppers also snapped up around 68 million iPads, not quite as many as last year, but still a lofty number that no other single family of tablets can touch. The fact that Mac revenue meanwhile exceeded iPad revenue had at least as much to do with rising Mac sales as falling iPad marks. While 2014 might have been a slow year for iPads, it's hyperbole to predict that Apple's tablet line is doomed.

Indeed, Apple CEO Tim Cook has characterized the slowdown as a mere "speed bump," promising that iPad innovation hasn't yet peaked. Cook argues that because iPads hit the market only a few years ago, no one knows exactly what kind of upgrade cycle to expect. Many anticipated that iPad users would buy newer models every couple of years, just as many iPhone users do. But Web-tracking services continue to report substantial Internet traffic from older iPads, indicating that many users with two- or three-year-old devices are happy with the performance levels these older machines provide.

Cook could be right. If existing iPad users have been waiting to upgrade, and new customers have driven recent sales, millions of users might buy new models in coming months, making 2015 a blockbuster year for iPads. Iterative advances, such as the jump from the iPad Air to the iPad Air 2, don't look so iterative if the target audiences are people who've never owned an iPad and people with three- or four-year-old models.

Moreover, Apple execs likely knew that iPhone 6 Plus sales would cut into consumer demand for the iPad Mini. This explains why the newest Mini was such a slight improvement over its predecessor. If demand was already going to be depressed, why not save the big advances until Q1 or Q2 of 2015? Reports claim Apple postponed new products so it could dedicate more of its supply chain resources to meeting iPhone 6 demand. If true, this notion reinforces the idea that Apple could be holding back bigger iPad improvements while it seeks to maximize iPhone sales.

Then again, even if iPads are among the most polished and elegant tablets available, they're more expensive than many competitors -- and depending on one's use cases, the iPad's "superior" features might not matter. Want a tablet primarily for surfing the Web, posting to social media, and watching videos? Most any tablet with an IPS screen will capably handle the job.

With scores of cheap Windows and Android tablets available, iPads in some ways face the same challenges that have limited Mac sales over the years: If one prioritizes raw utility and cost, iPads might be hard to justify over cheaper competitors, just as many have found Macs difficult to justify over less expensive but similarly spec'd Windows PCs. But if one prioritizes hardware design and Apple's particular brand of user experience, iPads and Macs justify their relatively higher prices.

It's also worth noting that PC sales, though still far from their halcyon days, somewhat stabilized this year. With Windows XP reaching its end-of-service deadline, healthier PC sales aren't surprising. Some of those XP users may have replaced old machines with tablets, but, because mice and keyboards are still necessary for many types of work, millions of other XP users bought new PCs.

It's possible many people spent 2014 upgrading PCs and plan to spend 2015 upgrading tablets. But it's also possible that decent PC sales show the tablet craze has fallen back to earth -- that customers have realized

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio
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Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
1/1/2015 | 7:10:19 AM
Re: Your expectations from Apple are Too High..
meijac,

Apple's strength has always been there Design as well as Walled Garden Approach.

However even here(Design);they are losing a lot of edge to other upstarts like HTC and Xiaomi.

Thing is if Consumers are happy with that experience they are loath to move elsewhere.

But about getting new Consumers hooked?

Especially in countries where the iOS does'nt have any traction today?

I don't think Apple has the right strategy/focus there.

That is where the whole issue arises.

 
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
12/31/2014 | 3:34:12 PM
Re: Your expectations from Apple are Too High..
@Ashu001,

Thank you for your reply, and I think many communities will share your comment.

From my perspective, what Apple has been able to offer is a more polished experience for it's consumers, since I can't deny there products really are robust and encounter little issues when compared to other platforms (I have android tablets and Iphones, and both OS offer a different experience, but I've encountered less issues on the Iphone).

I do agree that the level of innovation has taken a back seat and there's been more focus on features.

But perhaps that may be what Apple is pursuing? to simply provide those killer features to assure market capture? I will also state that Samsung has been definitly at the forefront of innovation, since the design of it's latest line of phones and tablets are really quite good.... and they appear to be more willing to take risks (like the Alpha series)
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2014 | 12:12:28 PM
Re: Your expectations from Apple are Too High..
Pedro,

I am really-really Glad that you enjoyed the Video!

Its a Youtube Classic![Just see how many views it has gotten and continues to get even today].

Its good to see that enlightened folks like yourself are able to ask Questions on this Vital issue yourself.

There are enough people out there who are starting to seriously question the need for just Blindly following this Tech Gadget craze without understanding the implications to either our Social Lives or our Health or our Financial Well-Being today.

I have so many Friends who are basically Tech Addicts and blindly buy the Latest iphone/ipad whenever it comes out and put everything on their Credit Cards(which they don't payoff at the end of the Month).

Consequently,they have to live under a massive Debt Burden(brought on by many such frivolous purchases) and remain always under tremendous emotional pressure thereby affecting their Lives all the way.

 
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2014 | 10:30:41 AM
Re: Your expectations from Apple are Too High..
I just watched the video.  It is really funny.  People are just in such gadget craze that they can't tell a new phone from an old one.  Apple is really good at building a huge hype for their products.  I think for 2015, the real question will be, if we as consumers really need all these gadgets.  Are they adding value to our lives or are we just following the tech craze that has invaded our society.   
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2014 | 12:26:02 AM
Re: Your expectations from Apple are Too High..
Pedro,

My Points precisely!!!

How is the iPad2/3 so different from the Original ipad?

It is'nt.

Similarly the same thought process goes for the latest iPhones (whatever generation they are on today).

In fact,the Awesome Comedian Jimmy Kimmel actually went out on the Street and showed folks the truth-Apple Products have been nothing but Empty Hype for the last 3-4 years or so.

Its a 2 year old Video but remains Highly relevant even today-youtu.be/rdIWKytq_q4

Highly,Highly recommended!!!


One also realizes that we are in a difficult Environment today(Financially) so Extra Digital Junk like a newer ipad/iphone(when the older one works just fine) is not happening for most consumers around us today.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2014 | 12:16:00 AM
Re: Your expectations from Apple are Too High..
meijac,

I am going to be perfectly fair and Blunt here-Apple WAS an Innovative Company (till about 3-4 years ago).

Now they are simply playing Catchup with what the Likes of MSFT,Dell,Google,Samsung,Lenovo,Xiami,etc and the other Big Consumer Electronics Players Deliver.

This is not the Kind of Innovation one expects from the House of Apple[Its simply playing Catchup to something which their competitors have already delivered way-way before them].

This is why I am sorely dissapointed with the House Of Apple today and was expressing my opinion as such.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2014 | 8:07:29 PM
Re: Your expectations from Apple are Too High..
I haven't noticed many changes between the latest iPad model and the first. However, I feel like the iPads are pretty close to perfect. I use it on a daily basis, primarily for browsing online, as well as sending and receiving emails. If I need to do a paper, I would resort to a laptop. I agree with you about how tablets are great for fun and convenience, but not so much for getting work done.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2014 | 4:02:08 PM
Re: Your expectations from Apple are Too High..
I agree. The recent IPad changes have been mere upgrades of the first generation Ipad. I think in today's tablet market.  Apple will need to work twice as hard in order to complete with the plethora of tablets have been release by other vendors.  I think tablest would never replace laptops.  There are things they are really good such as mobility and entertainment, but not in others like productivity work.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2014 | 3:00:33 PM
Re: Your expectations from Apple are Too High..
IMHO,

What we're seing from Apple, and most other manufacturers, is in my mind the nature of the beast. The market has become so competitive, that what Apple at one point considered innovation may be perceived as simply trying to catch up since other competitors provide a similar or better feature.

 

Something I think it's crazy the amount of R&D that's being spent by companies on trying to determine what they should develop next. Others like Microsoft are simply aiming for the low end (but profitable) part of the market.

At the end I don't think they'll be a clear winner/loser, but more of which company is still open for business, since it's clear that even thought the tablet/smartphone industry is very lucrative, it's unforgiving (i.e. Blackberry and Nokia)
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2014 | 8:45:20 AM
Your expectations from Apple are Too High..
Michael,


One wonders why Expert Commentators like yourself have such High Expectations from Apple.


You yourself have alluded to what is the most likely sceanario HERE-


Is Apple merely taking its time before releasing the next great iPad innovation? Or have the devices settled into a new pecking order in which tablets are useful but not as essential and disruptive as once thought?

When you hardly see any new Innovation coming out from the Stable of Apple in the last 2 years or so ;one wonders where the Fresh Spark of Innovation is going to come from?


Also as the Hype around Tablets has faded;consumers realize that thye need functional Devices which are neccessary to get the Job done rather than just more Electronic Junk which would sit around their Homes and be barely used if like ever. 

 
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