Stone tablets: Why do tablet sales keep sliding?


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The Macalope comes not to bury the iPad but to ask “What up with the iPad?”

Writing for Quartz, Mike Murphy says “Seven years after its launch, it’s still not entirely clear what an iPad is for.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Philip Speicher.)

The Macalope doesn’t know about anyone else’s but his iPad is for the deconstruction of abusive economic paradigms in postmodern developed states into mid-21st century populist narratives for the creation of socially responsible humanist political movements.

And a little Crossy Road.

Sigh. OK, fine, mostly Crossy Road.

In his customary mock-turtleneck and dad jeans, a gaunt Steve Jobs introduced the iPad to the world on this day in 2010.

Seriously, cancer-suffers, would it kill you to buy more fashionable clothing? JEEZ.

Oh, it actually might? The exertion from having to go to the store and try on new clothes might literally kill you? Oh.

The iPad has been a mixed bag, because in some ways, it has achieved what Jobs asked of it, but it also hasn’t really proven to be an enduring hit, unlike the iPhone.

Murphy provides a number of charts showing the peak of the iPad in 2014 and its steady decline since. Charts, assuming the data in them is correct, are often incontrovertible and these pretty much are. iPad sales peaked in 2014 and have declined ever since. But why?

They’re great for casual web browsing, the occasional tweet or episode of The Young Pope, but for anything longer, you want something with more processing power, better inputs, and better screen resolution.

Eh, that’s not really it. In many cases tablets can do exactly the same thing a laptop can but with better battery life, more portability and without all the distractions. Not all cases, but many.

But what else happened in 2014?

Apple shipped the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Otherwise, you want something lighter and less cumbersome—smartphones are getting bigger (the iPhone at the time of the iPad’s launch had a 3.5-inch screen; the iPhone 7 Plus has a 5.5-inch screen), but they’re still far easier to carry around than a tablet, and generally do everything that a tablet can.

It’s not so much that people don’t like tablets, it’s more that they can now have a little one in their pocket. And why own two?

The Macalope is old school, he likes his phones small, his tablets big and his whiskey neat. But the kids these days with their sharing economy and $4 toast and a third trendy thing the Macalope can’t think of, they like big phones.

The iPad has always felt like an awkward middle ground between phones and laptops, especially in a time when we probably need fewer screens in our lives.

Can I please get back to my artisanal cream churning? And these preserves won’t jar themselves, you know.

Of course, even if iPad sales are getting replaced with sales of larger iPhones, you can’t call it all good since sales of iPhones are down. Apple does currently have some problems, it’s just important to recognize them correctly.

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