Apple’s quarterly earnings call was mostly very good news for its shareholders. The exception was iPad sales, which were down for the fourth straight quarter, and not just a little down — down 18%.
This is because tablets don’t really have a terribly good value proposition. Honestly, that’s it. For most people, they aren’t a laptop replacement. They’re in an uncomfortable, narrow niche between laptops and smartphones, especially as smartphones have gotten larger and ultrabooks and Macbook Airs have gotten smaller.
Personally, I have a (7″ Android) tablet. I use it principally as a book reader, and secondarily to browse the web and read email in cases where I want a longer session than is comfortable on my phone, but a computer isn’t handy. So, mostly in bed or on BART. There is a value proposition here for me! It’s just not all that valuable. I recently replaced my 2012 Nexus 7 with a newer Android tablet — that cost $120. And which I hope to have last at least two years. I considered, and rejected, several more expensive tablets.
And that’s basically that. There’s nothing specific about Apple here, it’s just a narrow niche. It’s a testament to the power of Apple’s brand that they convinced so many people to try out an iPad, but now people have tried them, and they found out that tablets aren’t all that useful.