Can a consumption-only device like the iPad compete with increasingly larger-screened smart phones? Simon Dumenco asks that and other questions in this week’s article for Ad age, opening with “Is the iPad era already drawing to a close?”
Let’s look at the numbers to start:
- According to research firm Gartner, smartphones outsold feature phones for the first time during Q2 of this year.
- Also per Gartner, Apple’s share of the global smartphone market continued to drop, resting now at 14.2% compared to Samsung’s market leading share of 31.7%.
- iPad sales skidded during Q2, down almost 3 million units compared to the same quarter of last year.
What we have here is a market where smartphones – with their increasingly large screens – have overtaken standard feature phones, which may in fact be making the iPad more or less redundant to the vast majority of those smartphone users.
What’s happening to the iPad, the darling of the technical set?
“Various industry observers have put forward explanations (e.g., channel inventory, the lack of a new big-screen iPad model), but what I find alarming is the fact that last November’s introduction of the more affordable, more portable iPad Mini didn’t mitigate the iPad’ s overall sales decline,” says Dumenco.
He postulates that the device “is just too damn expensive.” Especially for a device that can only consume.
And it’s not just the iPad; tablet sales overall are down. Bloomberg News reported in July that “Global tablet shipments slowed in the second quarter from the previous three months as consumers delayed purchases of Apple’s iPad to wait for a new model expected later this year, according to researcher IDC.” That could be the explanation, or it could be something more telling.
Another explanation that Dumenco puts forward: “…Maybe the tablet market is way niche-ier than we in the tech, media and marketing worlds thought it would be. And the iPad is becoming the high-end niche within a niche that big-screen smartphones are cannibalizing.”
Is Apple eating its own? We’ll have to watch this one carefully.