Even Apple is Bored of iPad

Whatever happened to the personal computer of tomorrow?

19

For a time, Apple's iPad seemed like the future of personal computing, as well as a strong third pillar to its burgeoning business of selling computers and (mostly) phones. In more recent years, the iPad has floundered, as the company struggled to find just how the tablet fits into its ecosystem. Yesterday, in deeds more than words, Apple confirmed it. The iPad is struggling, and Cupertino doesn't know what to do with it anymore.

Yesterday's announcement wasn't delivered with a flashy presentation and a winning smile. The Apple store went down for a few hours, and then went back up with some new products. This isn't unheard of for product revisions, like the also-announced Product Red iPhones. But this was the unveiling of the new line of iPad and iPad Pro. I would have expected fanfare and a touting of new whiz-bang features, but we saw none of that.

Maybe that's because the new line simply doesn't have new features. This was a hardware revision, unaccompanied by a software update that makes even older iPads feel new. That's understandable to a point. iOS11 is surely coming later this year. But even in terms of hardware, this revision was fairly minor. 

Sales of iPad have been slumping. CBS reports that shipments of the iPad have decreased for the last 12 quarters in a row. Industry watchers have attributed the slump to any number of factors, from the longevity of an iPad to the increased power and screen size of phones. They've tended to last consumers 5-6 years instead of 2-3, making them more akin to a standard Mac laptop or desktop than a cell phone. The Pro and Mini have both failed to catch on, as simply making the device larger or smaller isn't enough of a hardware distinction to spur new sales.

Cupertino seems caught in an infinite loop. Without strong sales, it has no reason to invest heavily in development of new hardware features. Without new hardware features, consumers have no reason to upgrade. 

That isn't to say the product announcement didn't have anything new to announce. The new iPad line is simpler, with less confusion over the difference between an iPad and an Air. The starting device gets a bigger, brighter screen and a faster chip as cribbed from its successful iPhone. Plus, as a company notorious for its "Apple Tax," the sharp price reduction comes as a surprise. The new iPad starts at $329, undercutting competitors from Sony and Samsung.

These are solid, market-facing decisions. But Apple, a company that has avoided seeming too professorial in explaining its business interests, doesn't tend to make its announcements in the context of the bottom line. Apple's public face is about capturing a sense of wonder, and trusting that the magic–along with its legion of fans–will do the rest. This particular revision was short on magic, and long on practical business decisions, and those simply aren't the image Apple likes to project.

Instead, Apple frames its hardware in lofty terms. This is why its take on the tablet was presented as the future of personal computing. If Apple still does believe in that vision of the future, though, it didn't show yesterday. We can only hope that it will treat the iPad line with more reverance than the iPod. It completely ignored the 15th anniversary of the iPod last year.

Editor-In-Chief

Filed Under

From The Chatty

  • reply
    March 22, 2017 12:30 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Even Apple is Bored of iPad

    • reply
      March 22, 2017 12:32 PM

      Once the Nintendo Switch gets Netflix/HBA/LatestChatty/Opera it will be RIP iPad.

    • reply
      March 22, 2017 12:59 PM

      Time to build in some classic apple planned obsolescence

      Change ports for no reason, upgrade the OS to the point where it brutally kills older devices.

      They are the best at this, they just need to do it on the pads.

      • reply
        March 22, 2017 1:48 PM

        Sadly I think this is the real problem/solution and I dread it. The fact is the knocked the iPad out of the park in terms of form factor to functionality. I've got an original iPad Air which is about 3 and a half years old now and its still great. Plays whatever games i want to play on it, still feels fast and zippy, no performance issues, nice form factor etc. I could get another couple of years out of it which basically puts it into the desktop pc lifespan area.

        I will say that I *have* been eyeballing a pro+pencil combo though because the pencils are so friggin slick...

      • reply
        March 22, 2017 1:57 PM

        yawn .

    • reply
      March 22, 2017 1:53 PM

      Definiltely. Apple has cornered themselves. They can't/won't turn the iPad into a real productivity tool (ala surface) or a artist geared product (better/cheaper stylus -- but even then that's probably too small a market for them). And as a simple media consumption device there isn't much more they can off than could possibly make people want to upgrade...

      • reply
        March 22, 2017 2:50 PM

        I keep seeing Facebook ads from Apple like
        "PCs get viruses. Get iPad Pro which doesn't get viruses"
        "'My pc weighs a million pounds.' iPad Pro is light"

        This is so dumb.

        • reply
          March 22, 2017 2:56 PM

          As much as I'd like to be able to do it all with the iPad, it just can't. It's not going to match a computer for productivity. I love the idea of an all-in-one, but it's just not there yet.

          • reply
            March 22, 2017 3:26 PM

            And it doesn't seem Apple really want it either. The iPad Pro is definitely not that.

            • reply
              March 22, 2017 3:30 PM

              I know. I get that they want to transform computing? But it's an idealistic dream with no real direction. First off, they aren't going to get people to ditch laptops until they can make the OS not feel claustrophobic.

              I tried to make my iPad 2nd gen with Zagg Keyboard a productivity machine. Even at the time there were a lot of neat apps. I even projected it up on my Apple TV. But it sucked. It felt limited and slow and claustrophobic, and even to this day it can't really multitask properly.

              If they want to transform personal computing via the tablet, they are failing. Microsoft is taking a dump on them. :P

          • reply
            March 22, 2017 7:11 PM

            Surface is really the device to buy instead of an iPad Pro. It will do the things you're probably looking to do with the ipad pro.

    • reply
      March 22, 2017 2:07 PM

      Phones aren't exactly changing from generation to generation anymore either, and since tablets are basically phones with giant screens I don't know what people expect.

    • Zek
      reply
      March 22, 2017 2:12 PM

      Speaking as a Google fanboy I recommend a Chromebook. Replaced my Windows laptop with it and been quite happy. I don't plan to play PC games when I travel anymore, I'll stick to the Switch if I can.

    • reply
      March 22, 2017 2:34 PM

      Once I got my 7+ I never had a need to use my iPad again.

      • reply
        March 22, 2017 3:15 PM

        I use my iPad mostly for gaming, but that's because I don't like playing on a phone's screen..

    • reply
      March 22, 2017 2:37 PM

      Everything mobile bores the shit out of me these days, I'm not sure how much more they can mess with the form factor to make it interesting again.

      • reply
        March 22, 2017 3:01 PM

        I don't know if there's anything you could do to make "mobile" as it stands today feel like it did a few years ago.

        We're at a point where we basically have super computers in our pockets.

        Doing anything interesting with it will require a breakthrough with the form factor or something completely new all together.

        Microsoft *might* be able to breathe a little life into it if they make a fully convertible device they can realize the Continuum story without compromises but even that isn't really a game changer the way the OG iPhone was since we have so may ways to fill that gap now.

        • reply
          March 22, 2017 3:19 PM

          Continuum is really the way to go IMO. There are ways around, but a trully seamless transition from one device to the other would be great. No Dropbox/Drive/whatever stuff that will just slow you down.

    • reply
      March 22, 2017 3:01 PM

      I really don't get it. Apple has been pushing the hell out of iPad lately. Even going back to pushing it as a laptop replacement.

      Microsoft realized that tablet OSes really don't make good laptop replacements. They've been touting the fact that the Surface has a full OS and deprecating the tablet aspects. Even Samsung has gone to updating the Galaxy Tab infrequently because there just isn't an expanding market for this.

      So, the advertising blitz feels like a last ditch attempt to make the tablet format more than just a large niche, one that is no longer expanding. Gee, I wish there was another market that Apple could push much harder that has a large return on investment. Like desktops and laptops.

      https://www.statista.com/statistics/382260/segments-share-revenue-of-apple/

      • reply
        March 22, 2017 3:21 PM

        Since when do desktops and laptops have a big ROI? Not when you are Apple.

    • reply
      March 22, 2017 3:07 PM

      I think I'm happy with my retina iPad for what it does. Doesn't even feel slow to me. It's probably only a matter of time before Apple has to merge the macbook and iPad markets but that's not happening in the near term.

      • reply
        March 22, 2017 3:32 PM

        I think that is the biggest problem Apple has with iPad. They are built so well that customers don't need to upgrade nearly as fast as they do with phones or iPods previously.

        • reply
          March 22, 2017 5:23 PM

          You could argue we are there with iPhone as well, 6->6S->7 has some nice new things but were overall fairly minor jumps each time. 7S or 8 likely isn't going to be that enticing either without some game changer. What else is there? AAPLs r&d budget has grown a lot in the last few years, where is it going?

      • reply
        March 22, 2017 5:36 PM

        I have the 12.7 Pro.

        I'd actually like to get a smaller one, but I'll wait.

    • reply
      March 22, 2017 3:33 PM

      I've been waiting for them to merge the iPad and Air product lines for years--both are flagging products at this point. I just don't see what else they can do.

    • reply
      March 22, 2017 3:42 PM

      So annoying how they just call it "iPad" instead of The ipad.

    • reply
      March 22, 2017 3:42 PM

      What were those little cheap laptops called that everyone thought apple had to make or they would die. I can't even remember. That was funny.

      • reply
        March 22, 2017 4:10 PM

        Netbooks. I had one. It was awful. Between the underpowered Atom processor and the 1024 x 600 screen... :-(

        • reply
          March 22, 2017 5:14 PM

          Soooo glad Netbooks died off quickly.

          (Also, sorry you had one.)

          • reply
            March 22, 2017 5:16 PM

            I spent almost $500 on it. I think the iPad came out right after and I just cried.

        • reply
          March 23, 2017 6:25 AM

          netbooks were very frustrating because of the screensize. Many times a website flyouts would be longer than the screen and I couldn't select the things from the bottom.

          • reply
            March 23, 2017 7:38 AM

            Yup. I remember the pain. At the time, I spent many hours browsing forums and that's something a netbook just can't do.

    • reply
      March 22, 2017 5:33 PM

      Shackbrowse for Switch

    • reply
      March 22, 2017 6:01 PM

      I love my Ipad and use it as much if not more than my PC, but have zero desire to upgrade the air. It's pretty perfect as it.

    • reply
      March 23, 2017 6:39 AM

      i keep my iPad 2 around pretty much just for porn. there seriously is nothing else i do on it. i prefer using my macbook pro for web browsing, etc simply because i don't get redirected to "mobile" sites. like Facebook trying to push their shitty Messenger app whenever i go to messages on iOS.