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Sometimes smaller is better: iPhone 6 Plus crushes tablet sales

Sometimes smaller is better: iPhone 6 Plus crushes tablet sales

March 4, 2015

Extra-large phones like the iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung’s Galaxy Note are hurting sales of smaller tablets, including the iPad mini, according to The Financial Post.

In an earnings call with investors, Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly confirmed that tablet sales have fallen 30 percent across the industry, though the drop at his company has been less. The reasons cited for the drop are familiar. People keep tablets for longer than mobile phones. At the same time, the line between mobile phones, tablets, and laptops continues to blur.

As Stephen Baker, a technology analyst with NPD Group notes:

Consumers have had trouble understanding the need for a new tablet given the lack of differentiation between tablets.

In February, IDC confirmed that worldwide tablet sales had dropped year over year.

Through the end of December 2014, iPad sales dropped 17.8 percent from 2013 to 21.4 million units. At Samsung, things were just as bad, as tablet sales dropped 18.4 percent, to 11 million units.

Apple announced it had sold a record 74.5 million iPhone units between October and December 2014. At the same time, sales of Apple’s tablet line fell for a fourth quarter in a row.

In trying to explain the iPad’s slide to investors, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted “There’s probably some level of cannibalization that’s going on, with the Mac on one side and the phone on the other.” At the same time, he reminded folks that the iPad remains the top-selling tablet line in the world.

“Usage is six times our nearest competitor. Usage measured in Web browsing is like 71 percent of total tablets. Also the commerce taking place across the iPad is enormous. Essentially over 80 percent of the commerce on tablets is taking place on iPad,” he said.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Though Cook acknowledged that there would be no “miraculous change” in short-term iPad sales, he did suggest that future growth could come from business sales.

He explained, “I think the partnership with IBM and the work that we have going on in the enterprise [sector] is profound, I think we’re really going to change the way people work.”

In July, Apple and IBM announced a groundbreaking new partnership that brings IBM services to iOS devices and much more. The first wave of IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions arrived on the market in December.

Cook noted that new iPad products were in the pipeline. However, he didn’t mention the long-rumored 12.9-inch “iPad Pro,” which could arrive later this year.

As I noted previously, I think Apple would be wise to introduce a larger iPad — while also ditching the iPad mini line, which seems to have been compromised by the arrival of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. Nonetheless, I still believe that the bulk of iPad sales will revolve around a 9.7-inch model.

I’m not the only one at AppAdvice who wants to see Apple release a larger iPad. In February, Daniel Celeste published an op-ed, Why Apple should give us an ‘iPad Pro’ with a yucky stylus.

First introduced in 2010, the iPad line currently consists of the 9.7-inch iPad Air and iPad Air 2, and the 7.9-inch iPad mini, iPad mini 2, and iPad mini 3.

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