The push and pull of iPad

There’s no way around it: iPad sales continue to slow. That’s not to say the numbers aren’t incredible and that many companies would kill for a product that performed at the level of Apple’s tablet, but the graph doesn’t lie.

iPad sales by quarter

Here’s what Tim Cook said about the device on yesterday’s earning call.

I am still bullish on iPad, with iOS 9 there’s some incredible productivity enhancements coming in with Split View and Slide Over and Picture in Picture, these things are incredible features. The enterprise business is picking up and more and more companies are either contracting for or writing apps themselves.

And I believe that the iPad consumer upgrade cycle will eventually occur, because as we look at the usage statistics on iPad, it remains unbelievably great. I mean, the next closest usage of the next competitor, we’re six times greater. And so these are extraordinary numbers. It’s not like people have forgotten iPad or anything, it’s a fantastic product.

(High five to Jason Snell for the transcript.)

Tim Cook doesn’t say anything he doesn’t mean to say on earnings calls, and I believe him when he says he believes in the platform.

iOS 9’s laundry list of iPad-only features are exciting. My iPad is far from my main device, but things like Split View and Picture in Picture are going to make it a lot more useful for the way that I tend to work.

Of course, features don’t exist for themselves, and they aren’t created in a vacuum. As great as these features are, clearly, Apple’s trying to put their foot down on the gas when it comes to iPad sales. There’s nothing wrong with that being a motive; I think it’s smart of Apple to look at what’s happening in the market and make changes to their products accordingly.

The big question — Will this work? — will take some time to answer, but I’m optimistic. While I don’t think iOS 9 will return the iPad to early days, I bet the long-term upgrade cycle may begin to speed up. I know Apple’s counting on it.