iPad sales continue to be hot, hot, hot

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iPad shipments last quarter are up about 50% from where they were two years ago.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

iPad sales kicked onto high gear in 2020 and haven’t slowed down since. In the April-through-June quarter of 2021,
Apple shipped around 15 million tablets, roughly 50% higher than shipments in the same period two years ago.

Analysts estimates don’t agree on exactly how many units Apple moved in Q2. Canalys says the total was 14.2 million while Strategy Analytics puts the number at 15.8 million. But they agree Apple has about 35% of the global tablet market.

Both sets of analysts are working from the same basic figure: Apple revealed Tuesday that revenue from iPad was up 12% year over year in the April-through-June period.

Where the anaysts diverge is their educated guesses on what iPad models consumers are buying. Canalys apparently thinks people are getting more expensive versions — hence the lower units shipped for the same amount of revenue.

These number could have been higher. Apple is having problems getting the components it needs to make its tablets, which is why the wait for the 2021 version of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro stretched out months after the launch. And Apple says that’s going to continue.

The changing role of iPad contributes to sales

iPad sales took off in the second quarter of 2020 as COVID-19 forced people to work and study from home. To see the impact, consider that Strategy Analytics estimates that 10.7 million iPads shipped in Q2 2019, but 14.3 million in the same quarter of 2020 growing further to 15.8 million in Q2 2021. iPad revenue increased just as strongly over that period.

Apple’s tablet launched in 2010 as a consumption device — a way to surf the web or read ebooks. But the surge in sales during the pandemic shows people are using the iPad as a laptop alternative. They are obviously doing their jobs and taking classes on these computers.

That became easier when Apple added the Smart Connector to various iPad models. This port is specifically designed for external keyboards. Plus, Apple and third-party accessory makers produce a variety of add-on keyboards.