The iPad represents one of the biggest technology hits of the 21st century, topped only by Apple’s iPhone. The Mac maker has sold nearly 300-million iPads since the launch in 2010, yet quarterly sales continued to drop the past year or so. Why? My first thought was the obvious, “The iPad is just too good, and doesn’t need to be replaced as often as an iPhone.” Indeed, many people continue to use their first and second generation iPads because functionality and usage remains much the same, hence there’s less incentive for an iPad user to upgrade to a new model.
That may be about to change. Apple plans to put split-screen multi-tasking into iOS 9, but only for the iPad Air 2 models. Why iPad Air 2 and not older models? Horsepower. The iPad Air 2 has 2GB of RAM and a much faster CPU which will make the split-screen multi-tasking perform better. That makes iPad Air 2 (and iPad Air 3, and perhaps a 12-inch iPad Plus later this year) a more usable machine.
Apple needs to do more.
Differentiation is a primary key to product marketing. If an iPhone has a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen, who needs an iPad mini? If you don’t need and iPad mini do you even need an iPad? If Apple wants to improve iPad sales then the value proposition must be more compelling than the usage most iPad owners already know and understand.
Already iPad Air 2 is the most powerful iPad, but is differentiated not only by size, RAM, and CPU, but also features the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. That’s not good enough. Apple can do better. Apple must do better.
Thinner, lighter, faster isn’t enough. Battery life must be increased beyond the current 10 hours or so (about the same as a far more powerful MacBook Air or MacBook). The camera, relative to the iPhone 6 Plus is anemic; make it powerful and top-of-the-line on both sides. FaceTime does not yet handle video conferencing, yet multiple video calls would look great on the larger iPad Air screen.
For viewing and communicating I find iPad Air 2 to be more convenient than a Mac, but reserve the latter for developer, video and audio production, and web and graphics work. Why? The iPad Air 2’s screen is a bit small, and attachable keyboards a bit cumbersome to use.
Finally, the iPad Air 2’s price tag is an inhibiting issue (which might be the case for all iPads). Fully loaded, the high end tablet is $100 less than an entry level MacBook Air which comes with more RAM, more storage, and far more capability (it runs OS X, Windows, Linux, et al) in a package that weighs and costs about the same when a keyboard is added to an iPad.
An iPad’s use case and value proposition is obvious. A reason to upgrade to a new model is not. Apple needs to change that equation. It’s time for the iPad to grow up.