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Is Apple Pushing the iPad as a Viable Laptop Alternative?

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It’s been an accepted truth for quite some time now: iPad sales are declining. Apple’s own figures show that sales have declined for twelve straight quarters. However, these figures might not be telling the whole story.

Interestingly enough, according to a new report from Above Avalon, it’s the iPad mini whose sales are shrinking. When it comes to the combined sales of the 9.7- and 12.9-inch models, sales are actually flat to slightly up over the past year.

“For the past four years, we have seen various theories put forth to explain the significant drop in iPad sales,” reads the report. “Longer upgrade cycles, larger iPhones, inferior software, lack of professional apps, and even poor Apple storytelling have been given as factors driving iPad sales weakness […] Instead, the iPad’s problem has been the iPad mini.”

It’s easy to see why iPad mini sales have decreased, as larger iPhones have stepped up to fill that gap. However, despite the mini’s decrease in sales, the report argues that Apple will now increase its push for consumers to replace their laptops with newer, larger, and more powerful iPads.

The report cites three main points backing this claim up. The first is that Tim Cook has said in the past that the iPad is “the clearest expression of Apple’s vision of the future of personal computing.” Second, Apple’s new iPad Pro campaign elevates the iPad at the expense of the Mac. And finally, Apple’s aggressive price points show the company’s desire to make the devices available for a mass market, while is expensive Mac pricing makes the computers available to less people.

So will Apple continue to push the iPad as a viable laptop alternative, relegating the Mac to more niche, expensive markets? While the numbers may seem to provide credence to that notion, Phil Schiller said last year that the laptop form factor was “eternal.”

“The new MacBook Pro is a product that celebrates that it is a notebook, this shape that has been with us for the last 25 years is probably going to be with us for another 25 years because there’s something eternal about the basic notebook form factor,” he said.

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  • Nick

    The iPad just isn’t a good laptop alternative though. You can’t run Logic, Final Cut or any other pro app. Only paired down versions of Garage Band and iMovie. It’s just not the same, but the prices of their laptops now are getting ridiculous.

  • hlna55

    Great plan. Jack up the price of your laptops 50% over the last 4-5 years and push everyone into an iPad or overpriced computer. OR… like in my case and almost everyone I know, we went back to windows with the surface Pro and honesty.. could NOT be happier.

  • OliChabot

    I feel it’s kind of what’s happening… Macbooks are now almost too expensive for students, so the alternative they propose to us is to buy an iPad Pro…which kind of need a Mac to sync things on. I seriously have no clue where Apple is heading for the next years.

  • MleB1

    At the same time as they cranked up the price (and arguably, decreased the capabilities) of their Mac notebooks, they dropped their least expensive model (MacBook Air 11″), while putting out ads inferring their iPad Pro is a good as a ‘real’ computer. iOS, the lack of expandability and hardware connectivity emphasize they are not. They remain (as with the iPhone) simply a direct mobile connectivity device to the App and iTunes Store, which is their real value to Apple – but not the user.
    Then, recently, they then dumped their least expensive iPad (Mini 2 32GB) in favour of a ‘new’ model which is essentially a goosed-up version of their original iPad. The inference – skip this model and buy a real iPad at a significant price leap.

    Its like Apple is wilfully chasing people away from the brand.

  • raslucas

    If I am able to see a development workflow that works on exclusively iPad… one that allows me to run tasks, use git, view browser devtools, and update code in a text editor (possibly being able to upload by SFTP [with a SSH-key]), I won’t be able to take the iPad seriously to replace a laptop. I think Apple has the potential to create this scenario, but it’ll take some serious work on their part as well as a lot of work by third party developers as well.

  • Tim

    Terrible strategy. iOS is not equipped for a professional workload. Steve Jobs once referred to smart phones circa 2007 as having “baby software”…well for pro-users iOS is baby software relative to the needs of people doing serious computing. My iphone is great as a mobile device and the handful of simple tasks I can do with it, but I would never want to use iOS as my daily driver for work.

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