iPad Pro lives up to its name with strong early sales

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The iPad Pro isn't ready to compete with Intel Macs... yet.
The iPad Pro had an impressive launch.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

After gloomy early reviews and alleged lower-than-expected orders by Apple, it seems the iPad Pro may have struck a chord with users after all.

A research firm claims that Apple’s giant tablet performed impressively over the all-important December quarter, despite its high price point.

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 13.21.48

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, or CIRP, says the iPad Pro captured a “meaningful share” of Apple’s tablet market, or 12 percent of all iPads sold.

The December quarter also indicated another change for iPad sales, with iPad mini models taking over from the iPad Air for the first time as Apple’s top-selling tablet category. CIRP’s figures suggest that all combined models of iPad mini made up 47 percent of iPad sales in the quarter, compared to 40 percent for iPad Air models. In the December 2014 quarter, iPad mini models made up just 32 percent of sales.

“For the first time, iPad mini format had a greater share of sales than the iPad Air format,” said Mike Levin, partner and co-founder of CIRP. “iPad mini did much better in the quarter than it did a year ago, in part because of the lower price points along with holiday price promotions, and because of the different models available.”

Other CIRP findings suggest that the total share of new iPhone 6s models fell below the share of the then-new iPhone 6 in 2014, while the large-format iPhone 6s Plus share of sales also dropped compared to the iPhone 6 Plus. Customers continue to choose the year-old iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and even the two-year old iPhone 5s, CIRP notes.

Of course, we won’t know exact figures until Apple releases its quarterly earnings. CIRP’s number may hint at larger macro trends, but they are still based on a relatively small survey of only 500 U.S. Apple customers, surveyed from December 26, 2015, to January 12, 2016.

Still, at least as far as the iPad Pro goes, it seems Apple may have a hit on its hands. The only question will be whether it’s enough to reverse the downward trend of Apple’s slowing iPad business.

Source: Consumer Intelligence Research Partners

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  • I just want pro specs in an air body and I’ll be happy

    • Gest2016

      And pen input for the Air.

  • Michael Smith

    Can Apple consumers please stop rewarding mediocrity just because it has an Apple logo on it?

    • Gest2016

      Michael, why is this device mediocre? I was blown away by one as were the people gathered around me at the Apple Store in Portland. Everyone who saw and played with it wanted it. You remarks strikes me as the bitter blathering of somebody who doesn’t need or can’t afford an elegant, powerful device.

      • Michael Smith

        Exactly my point. Some people are easily dazzled, you were “blown away” by what is essentially a bigger iPad.
        It is as if Apple has figured out the magical formula for separating fools from their money.

      • MidahoX

        That’s exactly what Michael said. They want it because it has “Apple” logo on it. There is no reason to justify the desire, “want”. Does it introduce anything new? Bigger size – meh, stylus – meh.

      • A-thought

        No comment on the bitterness or otherwise of the previous writer, but I will say this in regards to your comment… I’ve been to the Apple store twice in the past month, once to browse and the other time to fix my iPhone, and both times there was no one standing around the iPad Pro’s. Macs, iPhones and other iPads, yes… But not the Pro. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

        But this “12%” statistic that’s making a lot of headlines right now is not a full story. For example, let’s say I make widget X variations 1 thru 4. sales lag to say 1 million units in a quarter, so I introduce widget X variation 5 to gain market share, which manages to capture 12% of purchases (roughly 1 out of 10 purchases). But total sales of all widget X end up still around 1 million, or maybe less (say 950,000). Variation 5 didn’t really do anything to gain market share, so much as it simply ate a portion of existing dwindling sales. So more data is needed before any conclusions are drawn here as to a success.

      • Luke Dormehl

        Absolutely — although the fact that it’s at a higher price point than the smaller iPads does mean more money being spent on iPads overall. How that translates into profits we’ll have to wait and see.

      • A-thought

        Higher average price per iPad sold, yes. More spent on iPads overall, not necessarily. A simple hypothetical example will show this:

        Quarter 1: 10 iPad Airs sold at $400 each. Average price per iPad $400. Total money spent on iPads $4,000.

        Quarter 2: 7 iPad Airs sold at $400. 1 iPad Pro sold at $1,000. Average price per iPad sold $475 (higher). Total money spent on iPads $3,800 (lower).

    • ex2bot

      Much faster I/O, variable refresh screen, very high performing “mobile” CPU, GPU that dwarfs many laptops and all tablets (Surface Pro 4 included)

      Plus vast iPad library, the excellent stylus and exceptional third-party accessory support. Yes, it’s just a big iPad. Your definition of mediocrity is bizarre.

      • Michael Smith

        I guess if you are living in Apple reality distortion field bubble, mediocre might have a different meaning. You only have to look at the competition to see what “Pro” actually means.
        Some things the Microsoft Surface Pro can do that iPad Pro doesn’t.
        Backlit keyboard, eraser function on their “Pen”, full desktop OS, a full compliment of ports and starts with 128gb storage.
        I expect more from Apple but so long as they have unwitting consumers willing to buy their products regardless of their capabilities Apple is not in a rush to innovate or compete.

      • ex2bot

        Well, Buddy, if you’re living in the Windows Reality Distortion Field you probably enjoy all that. I’d get a Mac over a Surface Pro or whatever any day. But since I use an iPad or iPhone about 90% of the time at this point, it would be a waste of $$$.

        If I had to use a Windows machine, my productivity would plummet because I’d be going, “Oh, no! Windows! Noooooooooo!” So, there’s that.

        Things a Surface Pro can’t do:

        – Run my iPad software
        – Run my Mac software

        … making it useless

        to me. YMMV.

        You’re not a control freak, I’m sure, not someone who feels he must control others’ computing platforms so much so that he gets annnnnnnngry if people are enjoying their fruit products. Hmmm? Because that wouldn’t be healthy.

      • Michael Smith

        I never said I wanted a Microsoft anything, I just want a better Apple product. Why are people willing to accept less when Apple is capable of doing so much more? Maybe they would do better if people would just stop giving them a pass.

      • ex2bot

        Sure, I wish they were better. I’d like them to lower prices a bit for all their products. They could lower prices and still maintain higher profit margins. The iPad Pro should come with more ports. iOS has seen a lot of growth in features, but it still needs to be better.

        I could go on. But I still don’t think Surface Pro is superior overall. It’s a superior Windows laptop in comparison to the iPad Pro, but it’s a vastly inferior tablet. I also want a Pro iPad because that’s the platform I prefer. I just tried one at an Apple Store, and I’m really impressed.

        I do expect Apple (and third parties) to improve the software substantially. So they’re on the hook for that.