Falling iPad sales aren’t quite what they seem

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iPad mini 4
Is a new iPad mini right around the corner?
Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

iPad sales have been falling for years now, but it turns out that Apple’s tablet business isn’t dying quite as quickly as it may seem.

In fact, if you take the iPad mini out of the equation, iPad sales are actually on the up.

When it made its debut in November 2012, the iPad mini seemed like a terrific idea. It was the perfect tablet for Apple fans who felt the 9.7-inch iPad was too big, and it was much more affordable. It also sold incredibly well for a while.

Towards the end of 2013, after the iPad mini finally got a Retina display, sales of the smaller model were just as strong as those of the iPad and iPad Air. But that didn’t last long. By the middle of 2014, sales of the iPad mini had started falling — and they haven’t stopped.

The nosedive has been so significant that it has been making the rest of the iPad business look bad. But according to a report from Above Avalon citing data from Fiksu, if you ignore the iPad mini, Apple tablet sales have been up for the past two quarters.

“For the past four years, we have seen various theories put forth to explain the significant drop in iPad sales. Longer upgrade cycles, larger iPhones, inferior software, lack of professional apps, and even poor Apple storytelling have been given as factors driving iPad sales weakness.

“Instead, the iPad’s problem has been the iPad mini,” the report reads.

iPad sales with without mini
iPad sales are on the up… if you ignore the iPad mini.
Photo: Fiksu

Neil Cybart believes that there are several reasons for the decline in iPad mini interest, chief of which is Apple’s decision to market the iPad as a computer killer. This has boosted sales of larger models while leaving the iPad mini out in the cold.

There’s no doubt that the lack of attention paid to the iPad mini is another big factor. The most recent model available is the iPad mini 4, which is powered by an aging A8 processor first introduced in 2014, and costs $70 more than the new 9.7-inch iPad.

Apple will continue to push the iPad as a laptop replacement at the expense of the Mac, so it’s no surprise that its focus will be on larger models that users find more productive. But it looks like the iPad mini is already on its last legs.

Apple has clearly recognized the smaller model is the weakest link in its tablet chain, which is why the iPad mini hasn’t seen a proper refresh in over 18 months. According to recent rumors, we shouldn’t expect to see a new model anytime this year, either.

If that’s the case, overall iPad sales will likely continue to decline. But so long as the rest of the lineup continues to pick up speed, it’s only a matter of time before the iPad mini gets cut loose and tablet sales are on the up again.