Why Apple iPad Sales Slumped Last Quarter

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Apple sold 16.4 million tablets during the first three months of this year, a significant decrease from the same quarter a year ago. But Apple‘s situation isn’t as bad as it might first appear.

Apple Q1 Tablet Sales by YearWhile it’s true that iPad sales last quarter were well below the 19.5 million sold in the same months of last year, it’s important to keep in mind that Q1 2013 was an unusual period: Apple’s Tablet sales were up over 65% from the same quarter of 2012.

Much of that huge jump in sales came from the iPad mini, which had first launched in late 2012. There had been strong pent-up demand for a smaller, more affordable tablet from Apple, and shoppers bought this device by the millions, with that surge lasting into Q1 of 2013.

The situation was significantly different last quarter. The iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display, which came out at the end of 2013, were an evolutionary products, not ones likely to bring on a huge increase in sales.

The year-over-year decrease, while definitely real, looks less dramatic if Q1 2014 is compared to Q1 2012: the 16.4 million units sold last quarter were almost 40% higher than the 11.8 million sold during the same quarter two years ago.

So this isn’t a case where demand for the iPad is dying off, but rather that Apple was unable to repeat in one quarter the extraordinarily high sales of an earlier one.

New Challenges

This isn’t to say that Apple’s not facing tougher competition from a range of sources.

In recent months, a number of mid-size Windows tablets have been released that are finding a market among those who think Apple’s iOS is too limited.

But the main source of competition is inexpensive Android devices. Apple has always targeted the premuim buyer, putting the iPad above the price range of many people looking for a light-duty tablet for casual computing. This group generally turns to the dozens of alternatives running Google’s Android that sell for around $150 or less.

Apple vs. Samsung

Industry watchers would like to be able to compare the sales of the two top tablet makers, Apple and Samsung, but Samsung doesn’t report its unit sales as Apple does. Still, a Samsung executive did leak how many tablets his company shipped last quarter: there were supposedly 14 million tablets shipped by this Korean company in Q1, up 200,000 year-over year.

This figure should not be directly compared to the 16.4 million devices Apple sold in the same quarter because Apple’s number shows how many iPads are in customers’ hands, while Samsung’s also includes unsold inventory.

AnalysisIf Samsung is very optimistic about new models like the Galaxy NotePro 12.2, then it has produced millions of these and shipped them to retailers around the world. This does not indicate how many of these have actually been purchased, however.

In addition, Apple has decreased the number of units it has waiting to be sold by 1.1 million, so its shipments last quarter were lower than they might otherwise have been.

Source: ZDnet Korea



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