Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will launch the iPad Pro this year. The tablet, which is intended to be an iPad for the office, has been tagged by some on Wall Street as an attempt to fix some serious problems in the tablet market. The problems may not go away that easily, however, and all one has to do is look to the PC market for clues about how the tablet market might respond.
Apple brought about the much discussed “death of the PC” over the last five years, and the “death of the tablet” is likely to be similarly overblown. People don’t hate the gadgets, they just don’t need to buy a new one every single year. That’s what happened to the PC market, and the iPad Pro will not be able to stem the decline in spite of Carl Icahn’s high hopes.
Apple flails with iPad Pro push
Ming Chu Kuo, an analyst with KGI Securities says of the iPad Pro “this is a real product, and part of their 2015 building plan.” Kuo is known for the accuracy of his predictions so the tablet is coming, when is more questionable. According to the analyst the release date is “fuzzy.”
Apple sold just 12.6 million iPads in the first three months of 2015. That’s 23% less than the number sold in the first three months of 2014. The larger iPhone 6 is to blame for at least part of that slow down, but the market as a whole is seizing. Tablet sales grew by just 5% in 2014 according to the IDC. That’s down from more than 50% growth in 2013.
The use of a tablet as a consumption device has lead to a sluggish upgrade cycle. If a tablet can comfortably browse the web, play games and stream Netflix, users aren’t looking to spend $500 on a new one.
Unfortunately for Apple, any attempt to turn the iPad into a creation device, one that is actively used for work or creative exploits, will be difficult to pull off. It’s unlikely to result in a surge in sales, but that does not mean the launch is in vain.
The death of the iPad Pro
The iPad Pro will likely find its place. The PC found its place in the post tablet world, and the tablet will find its place in the post-phablet world. Just like the “death of the PC” the death of the tablet will be overblown, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a reality. As in the famed tarot cliche, death doesn’t mean death, it means transformation.
The “death of the tablet” is a period in which the device category will find its place among the spectrum of devices that are on offer from Apple and its competitors.
The iPad Pro will find its own place in that group, but Apple can’t use the iPad Pro to stop the mass transformation of the tablet market.
The devices aren’t going to replace the PC any time soon. They’re going to be positioned beside the desktop. The iPad Pro is coming, but it won’t send growth rates back to 50%. If Apple can turn around the fall in sales that will be enough to make the release worthwhile.