The level of hype surrounding something new is not always the best indicator of its quality – after all, the low-budget movie “Moonlight” came out to very little fanfare but went on to be named Best Picture at the Oscars, while the highly-anticipated Phantom Menace turned out to be a complete turkey – but Apple’s announcement of an iPad refresh this week was so understated that the vultures have already begun to circle. But is this really the death of the iPad, or does one of Apple’s best-loved products still have a future?
Why All The Negativity?
It is no secret that iPad sales have been in decline, having gone down 18.8% for the fourth quarter of 2016 and 14% for the calendar year. Amid gloomy musings from various industry experts that the tablet market is becoming stale, a big, glitzy launch might have been expected from Apple to really try and push the iPad update.
However, there was nothing of the sort, and instead of a glamorous publicity stunt there was just a bog-standard press release. Even the lavish use of superlatives such as ‘stunning retina display’ and ‘incredible performance’ could not really disguise the fact that this was a perfunctory upgrade to the Air 2. Now just known as an iPad, shorn of any number or other designation, the new tablet has a 9.7-inch screen and the biggest improvement seems to be the price – it starts at $329 in the US.
The suggestion from critics is therefore that Apple is no longer too bothered about its iPad, and the tech company realises the writing is on the wall for tablets in their current form as consumers continue to demand more innovation and convenience.
Reasons To Be Positive about iPad’s Future
The decline of the iPad may have been a concern for Apple for a number of years, but even during its slump it has outsold nearest rival Samsung by 60% and, in 2016, the sales were more than double that of Mac. The steady downturn reflects a general problem with tablet devices, but slashing the cost of the latest product should give sales a shot in the arm.
The refreshed iPad may still find it hard to compete with the ever-increasing sophistication of smartphones, but could be utilised more in professional environments, where stationary computers are still the norm but are far from ideal. Medical experts, hospitality workers and retailers are just a few of the people who could benefit from the iPad rather than the smaller screen of an iPhone, especially at the newly-affordable cost.
Anyone hankering for something a bit more innovative may just have to bide their time, and rumours point to Apple having a bit more up its sleeve for the future. A more impressive upgrade to the iPad Pro line may be announced next month, perhaps including a 10.5-inch iPad. If there are some exciting new features, and a bigger press event, it might just keep the detractors at bay for a little while yet, so there is no reason to think the evolution of the iPad has quite hit a plateau.