While yesterday’s iPad numbers don’t look great – down 12.5% year-on-year, the third successive quarter in which sales have fallen – Tim Cook remains upbeat about the product, stating that it “has a great future” and that its long-term prospects are more important than “individual 90-day clicks.”

Quartz‘s Dan Frommer pulled together some of the things Cook has to say about the device, and while you’d clearly expect Apple’s CEO to put the best possible spin on things, he makes some reasonable arguments … 

First, argued Cook, the numbers are not as bad as they seem. The drop over the full 12-month period, rather than quarter against quarter, was 4%, with some of this due to reduced channel inventory, meaning that the actual fall in sales was less than this. Cook has referred to this in the past as a “speedbump.”

Second, while the consensus view is that tablets have reached saturation point, Cook says this is not the case globally.

If you look at our top six revenue countries […] the range [of first-time buyers] goes from 50% to over 70% […] that’s not a saturated market.

Sales are still growing in developing markets, with BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) up 20% for the full-year.

Third, Cook argues that while it’s indisputable that people hold onto iPads longer than iPhones, it’s too early to tell what the typical upgrade cycle will turn out to be.

Finally, he said, corporate sales represent a growing market for the iPad, with the IBM partnership key.

Over the long arc of time, my own judgment is that iPad has a great future. How the individual 90-day clicks work out, I don’t know. But I’m very bullish on where we can take iPad over time.

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