Tim Cook Says 'Exciting Things' Coming to iPad as Tablet Sales Continue to Drop

While the iPhone 7 Plus helped Apple achieve record-breaking earnings results last quarter, iPad sales remained on a downward trend.

ipad keyboard
Apple earlier this week reported that it sold 13.1 million iPads in the first quarter, which encompasses the holiday shopping season, down from 16.1 million in the year-ago quarter. As noted by Jason Snell at Six Colors, that's nearly half as many iPads as the 26 million that Apple sold during the same period in 2013.

Apple isn't the only tablet maker suffering from declining sales. The overall category continued to shrink by between 9% and 20% worldwide compared to the same quarter a year ago, placing pressure on Samsung and other vendors, according to the latest estimates from research firms IDC and Strategy Analytics.

q4 2016 idc tablets
Price remains a "key sticking point" for consumers looking to adopt high-end tablets such as the iPad Pro, which has created room for smaller vendors to capitalize on low-priced tablets, according to Strategy Analytics. Lenovo, for example, shipped an estimated 3.7 million tablets and grew 16% year-over-year in the quarter.

"2-in-1 tablets are a hot market segment but price remains a key factor in consumer behaviors around PC and tablet replacement devices, which is evident in lower shipments of iPad Pro and Surface Pro 4 devices in the quarter," said Eric Smith, Senior Analyst at Strategy Analytics.

IDC said the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini, rather than the iPad Pro lineup, continued to account for the majority of Apple's tablet shipments. For every ten slate tablets shipped, Apple sold only one iPad Pro, the research firm said. Apple does not officially break out iPad sales on a model-by-model basis.

Apple said it underestimated holiday demand for the iPad quarter, and that compounded a supply issue with one of its suppliers. Apple also drew down channel inventory by 700,000 units, so its results are not as bad as they look. Last year, Apple increased channel inventory by 900,000 units as the iPad Pro launched.

Apple also said the iPad has an 85% share of the U.S. tablet market priced above $200, so the tablet is doing exceptionally well in the premium segment that the company has targeted. iPad also undoubtedly remains the world's best-selling tablet, with a comfortable lead over its rivals, based on industry estimates.

Samsung was Apple's closest competitor with an estimated 8.1 million tablets shipped in the quarter for 12.8% market share, according to Strategy Analytics. Amazon, Lenovo, and Huawei rounded off the top five with an estimated 4.2 million, 3.7 million, and 3.4 million shipments in the quarter respectively.

strategy analytics q4 2016 tablets
As always, it is important to acknowledge that these are estimated figures, and that shipments do not necessarily reflect sales. There are also significant discrepancies between the IDC and Strategy Analytics datasets—particularly as it relates to Amazon—so treat the numbers with a proverbial grain of salt.

Apple has effectively marketed the iPad Pro as a computer in the post-PC world, but the company's second annual decline in iPad sales led Apple podcaster Marco Arment to raise an interesting question: what if the iPad isn't the future of computing?

What if, like so much in technology, it’s mostly just additive, rather than largely replacing PCs and Macs, and furthermore had a cooling-fad effect as initial enthusiasm wore off and customers came to this conclusion?

One thing is for certain: consumers are not upgrading their tablets nearly as often as smartphones. In order to reignite iPad sales, Apple will have to add compelling new features that entice the large base of existing iPad owners to swap out their current "good enough" tablet for a new one.

"We've got some exciting things coming on iPad and I'm optimistic about where things are headed," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "Customer satisfaction is through the roof. iPad Pro at 99%. So I see a lot of good things and hope for better results."

Update: Strategy Analytics notified us that it made an error in its chart. The original graphic transposed the names of the 3-5 ranked vendors incorrectly. The chart above has the correct rankings. This article has been updated accordingly where necessary based on the adjusted information.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, iPad mini 5, iPad
Related Forum: iPad

Top Rated Comments

AlexJaye Avatar
59 months ago
This is all Timmy ever says anymore. "Exciting things. Awesome pipline. Magical!" Still waiting for an actual Mac worth buying to replace my 2012 iMac... :(
Score: 118 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bladerunner2000 Avatar
59 months ago
It'd be pretty exciting if they just dropped the device and put their focus back into making a good computer.
Score: 92 Votes (Like | Disagree)
B.K. Avatar
59 months ago
Talk is cheap, Tim.
Score: 73 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pjbelsch Avatar
59 months ago
Remember when Tim said exciting things were coming to the macbook last year... hes a joke.
Score: 62 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DevNull0 Avatar
59 months ago
Remember, Timmy said.

“I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?” ...
“Yes, the iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people. They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones.


What an idiot.
Score: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nismo73 Avatar
59 months ago
How appropriate to say on Groundhog Day.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature

Unreleased Apple Macs and Apple Watches Listed in Eurasian Database Ahead of Fall Product Launches

Monday August 2, 2021 9:34 am PDT by
Apple is preparing for a slew of fall product launches according to new filings that showed up today in the Eurasian Economic Commission database. There are listings for new Mac and Apple Watch models, all of which have previously unknown model identifiers that indicate that they're upcoming devices. There are six new Apple Watch identifiers, including A2473, A2474, A2475, A2476, A2477, and...
ifixit iphone12 mini

Apple to Make Space for Larger Batteries in iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks By Adopting Slimmer Peripheral Chips

Monday August 2, 2021 2:12 am PDT by
For future iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, Apple plans to use smaller internal components in an effort to increase the size of the device's battery, according to DigiTimes. Image Credit: iFixit Specifically, Apple plans to "significantly increase the adoption" of IPDs or integrated passive devices for the peripheral chips in its products. These news chips will be slimmer in size and allow for...
Apple Watch 7 Unreleased Feature

Apple Watch Series 7 to Focus on One Major Upgrade

Wednesday August 4, 2021 2:12 am PDT by
The upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 will focus on one important feature in an attempt to tempt existing Apple Watch users that have an older device to upgrade, according to recent reports. Apple may skip adding new health sensors to this year's Apple Watch Series 7 in favor of improving the device's battery life. The company is said to be adopting new double-sided System in Package (SiP)...
magic keyboard touch id

Apple Makes Magic Keyboard With Touch ID Available for Separate Purchase

Tuesday August 3, 2021 5:22 am PDT by
Apple has made the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, which previously was only available with the purchase of the new 24-inch iMac, available for purchase individually for $149. Apple also retails the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and a numeric keypad for $179. A standard Magic Keyboard without Touch ID or a numeric keypad is available for $99, and a new Magic Trackpad for $129. One major...
iPhone 13 Wi Fi 6E feature update

Wi-Fi 6E Explained: What It Could Mean for iPhone 13 and Beyond

Monday August 2, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 is widely expected to come with Wi-Fi 6E capabilities, and while it may seem rather nuanced to the average consumer, with only improved speeds and being "up to date" in the realm of Wi-Fi technology, it's actually a fairly significant improvement, laying the groundwork for much of what we know the future holds. To truly understand Wi-Fi 6E, MacRumors sat down for an exclusive...
applestoredown

Apple's Online Store Temporarily Down [Update: Back Up]

Tuesday August 3, 2021 4:01 pm PDT by
Apple's online Apple Store is down at the current time, and attempting to access it to make a purchase gives the standard "Be Right Back" message. Given that it's a Tuesday night/afternoon in the United States and we're not expecting any new products this week, it's likely that this is a temporary maintenance outage that is not related to a new product release. The Apple Store app is also...
themorningshowcarrell

Apple Decided Not to Buy Reese Witherspoon's 'Hello Sunshine' Media Company

Monday August 2, 2021 2:02 pm PDT by
Reese Witherspoon's media company "Hello Sunshine" recently courted various buyers, and while Apple was one of parties interested in buying Hello Sunshine, the Cupertino company did not end up going through with the purchase. Hello Sunshine was valued at around $900 million thanks to its involvement in popular series like The Morning Show," "Big Little Lies," and "Little Fires Everywhere,"...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Apple Brings China's Luxshare Precision into iPhone 13 Supply Chain to Meet Production Targets

Wednesday August 4, 2021 12:19 am PDT by
Apple is tapping more Chinese suppliers as it seeks to meet ambitious targets for iPhone 13 production, according to a new report by Nikkei Asia. Apple is set to produce between 90 million and 95 million iPhones through January, according to a previous Nikkei report, and China's Luxshare Precision Industry has won 3% of orders away from Taiwanese rivals Foxconn and Pegatron. Luxshare will...
mac pro new graphics

Apple Introduces New High-End Graphics Options for Mac Pro

Tuesday August 3, 2021 7:34 am PDT by
Apple today began offering new high-end graphics upgrade options for both the tower and rack versions of the Mac Pro desktop computer. This comes on the same day that Apple started selling the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID on a standalone basis. As noted by CNN Underscored's Jake Krol, the Mac Pro can now be configured with new AMD Radeon Pro W6800X, W6800X Duo, or W6900X graphics when...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...