Jim Dalrymple nails it:
People treat their iPad purchases like they treat their computer purchases. They expect these devices to last longer and do more than an iPhone. In a lot of ways, it’s a bizarre thought because of the similarities of the devices, but I believe this is what’s happening.
Simply put, the buying cycle for an iPad is a lot longer than it is for an iPhone.
That’s the real reason behind the slump in iPad sales. It’s got nothing to do with tablets being a fad or the iPad not being a desirable product anymore. iPads are still great, and anybody who owns one will tell you that much. In fact, iPads are so great that people keep them around for much longer than their iPhones, because they simply don’t feel the need to upgrade them every year.
The question is, once this knowledge sinks in at Apple, will the iPad refresh cycle get longer as well? On one hand, it’s awesome that iPads keep getting better at such great pace, with significant new features being added every year. On the other hand though, it’s hard to justify spending so many engineering resources on a product if there’s not enough demand to drive sustainable year-over-year growth. At this point, the only reason Apple has to keep their foot on the gas is to maintain the hardware lead they still enjoy over their competitors. That’s certainly no small thing, but is it enough for Apple to stay the course?
Is the iPad headed towards a more Mac-like future?