The iPad isn’t quite selling in the numbers it once did, and a touch-enabled MacBook is one way Apple can offset the decline, an IDC expert has opined.
The reason being put forward for such a thought process is that the tablet segment as a whole has lost the growth momentum while there is a new segment that consumers seem to have hooked on to off late, that of hybrid devices. These typically are tablet devices with a detachable keypad such as the Surface Pro 4.
Sure Apple too has the iPad Pro in the fray as well with a detachable keyboard cover though that is being seen as a stop-gap measure at best before Apple comes up with something more substantial like a touch-enabled Mac.
“The way that we tend to view the iPad Pro is that it’s kind of a stopgap solution until they get a Mac line to the point of a touch screen and possibly detachable keyboard,” said Ryan Reith, program director with IDC covering mobile devices while speaking to Brooke Crothers of Forbes.
“I think [a touch Mac] is inevitable. There’s nothing from the supply chain or from Apple that supports that right now — I just think it’s inevitable…I don’t know if that’s two years out or what,” Reith added.
Apple reported sales of 16.1 million units of the iPad in the last quarter, which is well below the 21.4 million iPad devices sold during the same period last year. With consumer interest in pure tablet devices on the wane, many argued if a new iPad alone – Apple is believed to be readying the iPad Air 3 for a launch in a mid-March event – can spur growth in the segment all over again.
Another reason that the analyst feels Apple should get its act together is the growing popularity of the Surface line of devices. Microsoft has upped the ante with the launch of the Surface Pro 4 hybrid and the Surface Book, with the latter being considered by many to be even better than the 2015 MacBook Pro.
Another area where the Surface Book enjoys an advantage over the MacBook Pro is that the former can also be operated as a standalone tablet once detached from the keypad unit. The same cannot be achieved with the MacBook Pro even though both are quite evenly matched on performance parameters.
Also, in what can be considered a better estimate of the growing clout of Microsoft in the hybrid tablet space is the fact that Microsoft has emerged as the largest seller of tablets taking into account online sales based on data from Oct 2015.
It will be interesting to see if a new improved iPad Air 3 alone can reverse Apple’s fortune in the tablet segment or it has to resort to something more radical.