retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Washington Post reports that the just-passed weekend marked a significant anniversary - it has been five years since customers lined up to buy Apple's first iPad.

Some saw it as a "perplexing" product entry, the story says. "Some mocked it as a simply a big iPhone, or a solution looking for a problem. Others saw its potential but didn't know quite what it all meant."

However, to date, Apple "has sold more than a quarter of a billion of them."

Far from being a niche product, the Post writes, the iPad has become a ubiquitous piece of technology. They are "everywhere: in schools, in restaurants and on the walls of art museums." And Apple is teaming up with IBM to help target the enterprise market, as it looks to go beyond just personal usage.

Yet, the story says, "analysts are quick to note now that tablet sales just aren't what they used to be. The category saw its first year-to-year dip ever in the last quarter of 2014, according to IDC, with 76.1 million units. Even Apple has seen its iPad sales growth dip; its latest earnings report showed iPad sales were down 18 percent from the same period last year. The slowing growth has been attributed to the rise of big-screen smartphones, such as the latest models of Apple's own iPhones. There are also lingering questions about just how many sizes of screen people really need and how often they want to replace their tablets."

In some ways, reading this piece, I was surprised it has only been five years. I remember when the iPad was first introduced, there were a lot of people who even mocked the name, saying like it sounded more like a woman's sanitary product than a computer. And yet, I would have to say that in a bag full of Apple products - an iPhone, MacBook pro, iPod and iPad - the iPad may be my favorite, especially when it comes to content consumption (as opposed to content creation). I always say it is the piece of technology that I love the most but probably need the least ... it doesn't do anything the other items don't do, but there is something just wonderfully convenient about it. I love it.

If sales are down, people who feel the way I do may be part of the problem. in fact, I own the original iPad - nine-and-a-half inches long, with a 64 GB flash memory. It doesn't even have a camera. And the newer versions, while they have more storage and other bells and whistles, haven't given me enough of a reason to upgrade. I suspect a lot of folks feel the same way.

The rumor is that Apple may come out with a new iteration later this year. I hope so, and I hope it offers some kind of quantum leap that compels me to get a new one.

I will tell you this. I cannot imagine hitting the road without an iPad in my bag. It has been a transformational piece of technology in my view ... I simply love it.

Five years. Wow. What an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: