Consumers Looking Beyond the iPad

by Matt Klassen on August 7, 2013

With the release of the first generation iPad in 2010, Apple ostensibly created an entirely new technology market, a tablet sector that it has since presided over with unquestioned dominance. But looking at the latest quarterly tablet sales numbers, two things are becoming clear: global interest in tablets slows this time of year, and Apple’s ironclad hold over the tablet market is slipping, its dominance quickly fading as competitors have finally been able to catch-up.

While most analysts consider the slowing sales trend in the global tablet market to be nothing more than consumers waiting for Apple’s next iPad or something else new to hit the market, Apple’s dwindling share of the tablet market is considerably more disconcerting for the Cupertino tech giant, with many predicting that the next iPad will have a lot to live up to.

But will the next iPad be enough to rekindle the world’s love affair with Apple? Given Apple’s recent track record with product innovation I would say there’s simply no chance, as Apple not only has to outdo increasingly strong competition, it has to outdo itself as well.

According to a report from market research firm IDC, tablet vendors shipped 45.1 million devices in Q2 of 2013, a 9.7 percent dip from Q1 of this year. That said, global shipments were still up more than 59 percent compared to the same period last year. So what does this mean? Simple, global interest in tablets is still high, but as with any technology sector, there will naturally be lulls in sales in quarters with limited product releases or quarters that precede the release of a big ticket item.

In fact, as Ben Bajarin, director and founder of Creative Strategies explains, this second quarter dip can be blamed on consumer buying habits. “The biggest thing to understand with tablets is that they are shifting to seasonal purchases,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “This explains why the mid part of the year is likely going to be slow for tablets. I think it’s safe to assume at a worldwide level that the holiday quarter will be quite large for tablets.”

While analysts maintain that seasonal consumer purchasing habits are also to blame for the significant drop in Apple’s share of the tablet market as well, I’m not so sure. Although the iPad Mini released last fall sold well throughout the holiday season, its success came largely at the expense of its bigger brother, the iPad 4, not at the expense of Apple’s tablet competitors.

As Bajarin explains, “Even if Apple is able to pull magic flying rabbits from their hat in the fall, it seems the tablet market has saturated to the point where they will be fighting for replacement rather than growth.” [Italics mine]

Simply put, the numbers tell us that Apple’s iPad is still the tablet of choice for many consumers, but with competitors eating into Apple’s market share the company is going to have to hit a homerun with the release of its next tablet in order to regain its momentum in the market space, but given Apple’s penchant of late for hitting singles it seems unlikely.

Photo c/o IDC

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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