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Digitimes forecast says iPad sales could fall to a record low this quarter, dropping 20% year-on-year


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.

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  1. 89p13 - 7 years ago

    And the Analysts will once again downgrade the Apple stock. Quick – Buy More before Apple, Inc. does.

    YMMV – But I’m looking to increase my position of APPL

    • Tom@L (@Wild_hunt_) - 7 years ago

      what stopped you from buying? AAPL has been hovering around $94 for a long time.

      • 89p13 - 7 years ago

        And I have been increasing my shares – but this news will make it even more attractive. IMO – Apple is a long-term growth stock. Apple makes products as opposed to so many other “darlings of Wall Street” who trade in non-product are

    • Paul Allen (@starxd) - 7 years ago

      No analysts are downgrading Apple stock based on this. Why would they? A 20% decline in iPad sales is hardly news. It would be news if this DIDN’T happen.

  2. johnmfoley - 7 years ago

    I think sales will stabilize right around where they are at right now. I think sales bump up again in the future once students default to them over PCs. The Apple Pencil will go along way in accelerating education use.

  3. A more useful chart would be iPad profits. While sales stabilize, profit may continue to grow. The R&D invested in creating the iPad is no longer needed for the iPad’s yearly updates. And the cost of the iPad’s component pieces seems likely to fall. (For example, the “retina” display seems likely to cost less now than when it was first used.)

  4. uniquified - 7 years ago

    Why wouldn’t sales see a bump in this quarter if iPad Air3 is released March 18th? That’s a few week of sales for a device that hasn’t been updated in 16 months.

  5. Randen Montalvo - 7 years ago

    The iPad Pro would’ve helped them considerably if it had Pro Application access. The Air 2 is so powerful size wise and form wise i have negated to upgrade to a pro.

  6. o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

    The iPad will be similar to Mac sales, that’s obvious to intelligent people I think. People will never upgrade iPads like they do iPhone, no matter what innovation is introduced.

    • chrisl84 - 7 years ago

      People will never upgrade iPhones like they used to upgrade iPhones anymore either.

      • Paul Allen (@starxd) - 7 years ago

        That’s right. They will be upgrading their phones much more frequently now that two year contracts are dead. Most of the new plans are designed to heavily encourage yearly upgrades. Just today Apple unveiled a trade in program that will allow you to get a brand new iPhone 6s for $15 a month, and you can upgrade it in a year for zero money down. I think we will see a shortening of the upgrade cycles for phones in the coming years as more and more people come off two year contracts.

      • chrisl84 - 7 years ago

        Lol, yeah sure thing buddy. iPhone sales will be down this quarter because people upgrade more often….whatever’s in your koolaid I want some of it.

    • This is definitely true. I used my iPad 1 for 4 years before upgrading.

  7. iali87 - 7 years ago

    It depends on how IOS gonna grow. I have ipad pro and surface pro and I see myself using surface more during the day.I use my iPad is only with movies or reading some books.

  8. Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 7 years ago

    I see this as a good thing, as it proves all those people wrong who declared the PC dead and that dumbed down touch screen devices were the future. Turns out power and flexibility won out in the end. I say this as an iPad user – it’s a great way to browse the web on the toilet – but these devices were never a match for PCs.

  9. bentechwin - 7 years ago

    The iPad and tablets in general are great for most consumers, but not as much for many content creators. I don’t believe it will always be this way. I’m hopeful that Apple will make a 2-in1 device some day that has the flexibility of an iPad and can be docked and have the power of a MacBook.

    • Regarding content creation, I usually prefer the iPad to a MacBook for creating music and for drawing/painting (nothing against Logic or Photoshop, but the iPad feels less clunky with its refined multitouch interface and Apple pencil.) It also can be used very effectively for video, podcasts, etc.. I’ve found that for many applications the keyboard just gets in the way; I have multiple keyboards for the iPad pro – including Apple’s keyboard case – but I never use them unless I’m typing a long document.

      The Apple pencil is really good – presumably it will be supported by the iPad air 3 as well as the pro. Although the iPad is still evolving, it’s simply better for content creation when you don’t need or want a keyboard and mouse/trackpad.

    • Paul Allen (@starxd) - 7 years ago

      The iPad is a great content creation device. In many ways, it’s better than a laptop. I prefer it for photo editing and video editing. I also prefer it for music creation. And obviously it’s the better choice for drawing and painting.

      As for the “power of a MacBook” the iPad Pro literally has the power of the MacBook. Check out Anandtech’s benchmarks. It is toe to toe with the 2015 MacBook, winning many benchmarks, and coming in second in others. Overall, the performance is on par.

  10. A decline like this isn’t good news for Apple or its shareholders. However, I really like the iPad pro – the iPad is my go-to device for video, for music creation/ performance apps, and for drawing/painting apps, and has taken over a fair amount of web, email, and game duty as well. Maybe it’s a niche product, but it’s a really good one.

  11. Paul Allen (@starxd) - 7 years ago

    “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.”

    This is a gross exaggeration. The iPad Pro is thought to have sold about 2 million units in the fourth calendar quarter of last year (only on sale for 7 weeks of that quarter). The Surface is estimated to have sold over 4 million units last year, and millions more in previous years. Somehow you’ve got your facts mixed up.

  12. Vladimír Nejedlý - 7 years ago

    No mute switch? No, thank you. iOS update cripple device program – no more, thank you.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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