Digitimes Research has predicted that iPad sales could fall this quarter to their lowest level since 2011.

Apple is expected to ship 9.8 million iPads in the first quarter of 2016, historically its lowest quarterly level, with decreases of 39.1% on quarter and nearly 20% on year.

There are a couple of issues with the forecast – the first being the patchy track-record of the source, and the second being that the ‘historic low’ claim isn’t quite accurate if you include the first year or so, as the above graph from Statista shows.

But the graph does show something else …

Namely, that the claim is a plausible one. Remove the seasonal effect – sales always jump in the holiday quarter (Apple’s fiscal Q1) – and what we see here is a solid two-year decline. Fiscal Q2 sales declining from 19.48M in 2013 through 16.35M in 2014 to 12.62M in 2015. Project that line out into this year and the 9.8M number looks feasible.

The decline does, of course, need to be put into perspective. Digitimes still gives Apple by far the greatest share of the tablet market, at 21%, with Samsung some way back at 14% and everyone else in single digits. Even the iPad Pro, the most niche product in the range, looks likely to have sold more units in a single quarter than all the Microsoft Surface units ever sold.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has consistently said that he remains upbeat about the long-term prospects of the device, with our own Zac Hall recently laying out the reasons he thinks this is a reasonable view. The expected launch of the iPad Air 3 next month should also help the numbers, but not in this quarter.

Do you agree that the iPad can bounce back? Or do you see the decline continuing? Take our poll, and share the reasons for your view in the comments.