I’ve been pretty down about the prospects for iPad sales recently, so I got a rude shock last week when Apple announced its first quarterly rise in iPad sales revenue since 2013. Sales in the year to March had looked almost certain to plunge below the $20bn mark and a sub-$20bn figure for “fiscal 2016” (the year ending in September 2016) almost nailed on. But here we are. Despite another fall in unit sales, revenues rose. It would now take a precipitous 15.2% fall in “fiscal Q4 2016” sales, relative to Q4 2015, for sales to end up below $20bn.
So what’s happening? The release of the iPad Pro 9.7-inch on 31st March seems like a likely culprit, boosting sales over the latest quarter. There is chatter suggesting that early iPad adopters are finally beginning to replace their old versions. Some say that the iPad Pro is beginning to steal market share from the relatively more expensive Windows Surface Pro.
Product launches do have a big effect on Apple product sales so I had a look at how the latest launches effected the popularity of “iPad” as a search on Google Trends. The results in the chart above suggest to me that one little bump in sales isn’t indicative of a rebound. It still looks like iPad sales are in structural decline.
Whatever caused sales revenue to rise in the last quarter despite falling unit sales (a switch towards sales of more expensive models, a fall in the dollar, a hike in wholesale prices etc.) there’s nothing I can see which backs up the idea that iPad sales have bottomed out.