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article imageTim Cook says 'exciting things' are coming to the struggling iPad

By James Walker     Feb 3, 2017 in Technology
Tim Cook has said that Apple is working on "exciting things" for the iPad, looking past analyst concern over the device's heavily declining sales. Shipments were down significantly over the holiday season as the iPad continues its gradual demise.
The tablet market as a whole is shrinking, placing pressure on Apple and other manufacturers. In its first quarter earnings call this week, Apple confirmed the iPad continued its downward sales trend again in the past three months. The company sold 13.1 million tablets, down from 16.1 million in the same period a year ago. In 2013, around 26 million were sold.
Despite flagging sales, Apple CEO Tim Cook remains optimistic though. During the earnings call, he stated Apple's commitment to the tablet market and claimed that customer satisfaction with devices is at record highs. "We've got some exciting things coming on iPad and I'm optimistic about where things are headed," Cook said. "Customer satisfaction is through the roof. iPad Pro at 99%. So I see a lot of good things and hope for better results." However, the steadily declining sales will be cause for concern to Apple. The company markets the iPad as a general purpose replacement for Windows desktop PCs, sufficient for most consumers' everyday computing. Critics claim the iPad isn’t particularly well suited to working productively though. The mobile-oriented iOS and App Store limits what can be achieved.
Recently, Apple has begun to add more productivity-focused features to the iPad. Notably, newer models now support split-screen multitasking, letting two apps run side-by-side. It's still a fairly restrictive experience though, with users forced to choose between a set selection of split arrangements.
Apple isn't alone in experiencing difficulty selling tablets. With the market as a whole declining, some analysts have begun to question whether they represent the computing revolution previously anticipated. When tablets first began to appear seven years ago, many thought they could be the ideal device for infrequent home users and mobile workers. In practice, that doesn’t appear to have necessarily been the case.
Another factor to consider is the longer lifecycle of tablets compared to other consumer devices. Whereas smartphones are generally upgraded every two years, tablets tend to last longer. This could explain the steady decline in shipments. Customers who bought a device several years ago may still be using it with no cause to upgrade.
In 2017, many expect the tablet market to be defined by Microsoft's ongoing war against the iPad. The company is expected to use its new Windows 10 on ARM platform to launch a slew of low-cost Windows tablets, aimed head-first at driving down the iPad's adoption.
Microsoft has already driven the tablet market towards convertible devices through the success of its Surface brand. With partners building similar products, it is now thought to be planning the next evolution of the form factor. Apple's response is likely to be strong and similarly targeted, potentially bringing innovation back to tablets that could kick-start a new sales surge.
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