Can New iPads Revive the Slumping Tablet Market?

What will it take to turbo-charge the tablet market?

As spring approaches, some analysts expect Apple to spice up its iPad line, still No. 1 in the slate category but on the decline.

In late January, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he remained “very bullish” on iPad and hinted that “exciting things” were coming, within the timeframe of a 90-day clock.

The clock is winding down. Whether new iPads will be as exciting as Cook suggests is an open question. Refreshing the specs and adding features such as wireless charging would represent a good start, though no guarantee of a market boost.

Sobering numbers
Sales of Apple’s tablet dropped to 13.1 million units in the three months ended December 31, compared to 16.1 million during the same period a year earlier. Year over year that translates into unit sales that fell 19% and revenues that plummeted 22%.

The entire tablet category has been in the doldrums lately. Strategy Analytics reported global tablet shipments were down 9% in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Apple still had the largest individual global market share in the final three months of 2016, at 20.8%, Strategy Analytics data shows, but that compares to 23.2% a year earlier.

Runner-up Samsung, which recently introduced new tablets of its own at Mobile World Congress — the Android based Galaxy Tab S3 and the Windows 10-based Galaxy Book “2-in-1” — has a 12.9% share. Amazon, in third, registered 6.7%.

Collectively, “white box” vendors consisting mainly of cheap unbranded or rebranded traditional Android slates, as well as some Android and Windows 2-in-1s, had the largest slice at 28.7%. Many such vendors were out of China.

In the U.S., the iPad still has an 85% share on tablets priced above $200, according to NPD, and continues to top the overall retail market. A sizable advantage for Apple comes with the more than 1 million apps that have been designed specifically for iPad.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Edward C. Baig

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