With the announcement of the sixth iteration of the iPad (if we exclude the iPad mini as a separate product – it's now entering its third iteration), I wanted to take a look back at the history of iPad sales and how they look on a quarter-over-quarter growth basis. First, a disclaimer. I am an iPad owner but probably not the type that Apple really likes. I am still using my three and a half year old iPad 2 and despite a decrease in operating speed for some apps with the latest version of iOS, it still suits me just fine. Until I drop it and spider the screen, I'm unlikely to upgrade.
For your information, here are the release dates of each version of the iPad:
iPad 1 – April 3, 2010
iPad 2 – March 2, 2011
iPad 3 – March 7, 2012
iPad 4 – October 23, 2012 – introduced iPad Mini
iPad 5 (aka iPad Air) – October 22, 2013 iPad 6 (aka iPad Air 2) – October 16, 2014
Here is a graph that shows the quarter-by-quarter sales for the iPad since its introduction in the second quarter of 2010:
Sales volume is linked closely to the release dates of the new models with the biggest bump coming between the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014 when sales jumped from 14.1 million units to 26 million units for the iPad Air. This was the biggest quarter-over-quarter increase in iPad history followed by the jump from the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013 when sales jumped from 14 million units to 22.9 million units when the iPad 4 and iPad mini were introduced. What is interesting to note is that iPad sales in the third quarter of 2014 were the lowest sales level since the second quarter of 2012, coming in at 13.276 million units, a drop of almost 50 percent from the peak two quarters earlier.
Here is a graph showing iPad sales growth on a quarter-over-quarter basis:
The last two quarters have seen the largest overall decline with sales dropping by 12.724 million units or 48.9 percent from the first quarter of 2014 as I noted above. The percentage drop from the first quarter to the second quarter of 2014 is the highest quarter-over-quarter drop, coming in slightly higher than the 36 percent drop between the first and second quarters of 2011, however, that drop could be attributed to consumers waiting on the announcement of the iPad 2 that was made in March 2011. In the case of the 37.1 percent drop between the first and second quarters of 2014, consumers were obviously not expecting the launch of an updated iPad since it was announced in the fourth quarter of 2013.
My suspicion is that there will be a bump in sales for the iPad 6 (iPad Air 2) in the first quarter of 2015, however, it will be interesting to see if Apple's own larger screen iPhone 6 cannibalizes sales of its larger screened portable products. Unless Apple comes up with some great iPad innovation in the near future, competition from outside companies and its own product line could make iPad sales a much smaller fraction of its overall revenue stream than their current 15 to 20 percent level.