Apple's popular iPad - once synonymous with tablets - is in troubled waters. Why? The five-year-old product line from the company is seeing a slowdown in demand, which could spell trouble for Apple.
The iPad may be Apple's fastest-selling product line, but if the tablet's recent sales figures are anything to go by, the device will be displaced from its pedestal by the iPhone in the coming six months.
Launched in 2010, the first iPad was the fastest product from the company to touch 10 million unit sales in its first year. In its third and fifth years, the iPad hit 100 million unit and 250 million unit sales, respectively.
On Monday, April 27, Apple revealed that the shipments of iPad fell by 23 percent year-over-year to 12.6 million in Q2 2015. By comparison, Apple shipped 16.35 million iPads in Q2 2014. iPad sales also fell short of analysts' expectations - the analysts forecast 13.6 million unit sales for the concluded quarter.
Apple has been struggling with its tablet sales since 2013. In Q4 2014, during the holiday season, the iPad managed to generate sales of only 21 million units compared to 26 million units sold in Q4 2013.
The iPad's future too looks bleary as analyst's paint a dismal picture. Ming-Chi Kuo, analyst with KGI Securities, forecast in February this year that the iPad's shipments will see a further sales decline in 2015.
"We forecast iPad shipments will decline 52.7 percent QoQ in 1Q15 to 10.1mn units, and continue to lose momentum in 2Q15F, dropping another 30-40 percent QoQ to 7-8mn units. 1H15F shipments around 18mn units, down 40 percent YoY; 2015F to struggle to top 45mn units, down 30 percent YoY," revealed Kuo.
A major contributing factor for the decline in iPad sales can be attributed to competition from bigger screen smartphones. With the advent of 5-inch plus screen smartphones that allow connectivity on-the-go, people are opting to use them over tablets which are comparatively bulkier. Moreover, competition from Android tablets that have better price points and novel features is also concerning for Apple.
However, there is hope yet for Apple as analysts are optimistic that with the company partnering with IBM, it can delve deeper into the enterprise market and keep the tablet relevant. Analysts at Jeffries Group opine that with iOS extensions, IBM MobileFirst for iOS as well as MS Office becoming available for iOS, the iPad can stay relevant "for broader Enterprise applications."
The iPad can also lift its fortunes with the arrival of the Apple Watch per analysts as it could be handy in the healthcare sector since the wearable can gather health-related data.
Apple is also rumored to be working on a 12.9-inch iPad. If this comes to fruition, then the tablet will be able to reinvent itself successfully. Consumers will have something new to look forward to just like they did with the iPad mini.
Another rumor that is doing the rounds is that Apple is looking to take the Samsung route and finally add a stylus for the iPad. The company already has patents filed for the same and now per a Business Insider report, Apple has a stylus in the works.
"It's mainly older people and [for] typing or graphic designers, etc., and business users," per the site's source.
If Apple indeed brings out a stylus targeting business users, it would tie in well with the company's IBM partnership which is looking to create custom business enterprise apps for organizations who would like to manage their data on iPads. Graphic designers, artists, - heck even doodlers would be swiftly able to turn their iPad into a sketch book seamlessly and scribble away!