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Is the iPad Pro Apple’s last real chance to revive slumping iPad sales?

Published Oct 28th, 2015 8:50AM EDT
iPad Pro Sales

With each passing quarter, it’s getting harder and harder to ignore the fact that the iPad might be on the verge of becoming a has-been product just as quickly as it became a bona-fide success. There’s simply no getting around it: the iPad is in trouble.

The iPad has been in a precarious position for some time now, with sales trending downward over the course of a number of consecutive quarters. In other words, this isn’t a seasonal issue nor a temporary phenomenon. Yesterday, Apple revealed that it sold 9.8 million iPads during its most recent quarter, representing a 20% drop in year over year sales and a corresponding 20% drop in year over year revenue. In fact, Apple’s most recent quarter marks the first time that iPad sales have checked in below 10 million units since mid-2011.

Clearly, something is amiss.

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Consumers have made it clear that they don’t care if newer iPads are smaller, marginally thinner, or faster than previous models. So Apple next month will release what is arguably their last real chance to revive slumping iPad sales — the iPad Pro.

If all goes according to plan, the iPad Pro will usher in a new iPad era spearheaded by a device that is bigger, faster, and armed with many more bells and whistles than previous models. Here’s the thing: Apple has never been all that invested in the iPad Mini. Sure, the product sells decently well, but Apple only decided to release a smaller version of its famed tablet once companies like Samsung starting seeing success with smaller form factors. As a result, Apple has always been more invested in pushing sales of its higher margined iPad Air models than its less profitable iPad Mini models.

So wth the iPad Pro set to launch in November, Apple’s strategy, interestingly enough, is to revert back to basics by offering up a premium product at a premium price. The iPad Pro is hard to ignore. It comes with a gargantuan screen, 4GB of RAM, and an intriguing stylus called the Apple Pencil. Thus far, everyone who has spent some hands-on time with the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil have nothing but glowing things to say. Price wise, the device is hardly cheap, with the entry level model starting at $799 and climbing up to $1079 depending on the configuration.

It really seems that the iPad Pro is the last trick Apple can pull out of its hat to help kickstart a new wave of iPad adoption. After all, nothing else Apple has done has managed to work and generate even an inkling of traction in the marketplace. Again, the trifecta of faster, thinner, smaller, in any number of permutations, simply hasn’t done much to help iPad sales over the past few years. Maybe going the opposite way will be the cure-all Apple’s iPad lineup so desperately needs.

So who knows, perhaps iPad Pro will resonate with consumers in ways that the iPad Mini and iPad Air line haven’t. If it doesn’t, it’s hard to see what else Apple could possibly do to revive sinking sales.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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