Less than four years ago, it seemed plausible that Apple’s iPad product line was on track to dominate the tablet market and upend the global PC market. Now, iPad sales have been in free-fall for years. Potential catalysts like the launch of the business-friendly iPad Pro lineup, the availability of cheaper iPads, and the aging of the iPad installed base have all failed to reinvigorate sales.
According to a new report from Digitimes, Q1 2017 sales for Taiwan-based iPad supply chain firms, notably touch panel makers TPK Holding and General Interface Solution (GIS), are likely to be poor.
According to industry sources cited in the report, Q1 sales for touch panel suppliers are reportedly “hanging in the balance,” depending on whether or not Apple releases its rumoured, brand-new iPad Pro lineup.
Despite the weak sales trend, Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated on the company’s recent earnings call that he is bullish about the iPad’s long-term trajectory. Sales grew at a double-digit rate in India and Mainland China last quarter. The iPad continues to gain traction in the corporate sector. Moreover, customer satisfaction remains extremely high.
If that’s the case, then help may be on the way. Many Apple watchers expect the company to roll out an updated iPad lineup this spring, perhaps as soon as next month.
Suppliers have told Digitimes that Apple is planning three new tablets for 2017: an entry-level 9.7-inch unit, a 10.5-inch model, an a 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Sources claim that price reductions and out of stock notices on some current iPad models indicate that Apple will launch the new tablets soon.
The suppliers are reportedly hoping that at least one of the larger tablets would launch this quarter. However, reports now indicate that both of the larger size iPads are expected to launch in May or June, putting a dent in Q1 sales for these touchpad suppliers.