iPad Sales Continue To Fall: I Blame Tim Cook

Apple sees iPhone sales grow 22.1% to 48M in Q4 2015, but iPad sales declined 19.5%

Those considering buying iPads, however, were likely trying to figure out if they want the new iPad Pro or even the iPad mini 4. Tablet sales in general haven’t been doing well, a trend that Apple has not been able to counter with the iPad. In fact, iPad sales have been falling for more than a year now, and this is the first quarter Apple has sold under 10 million iPads since Q4 2011.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

The iPad was supposed to usher in a new computing paradigm, a new way for people to interact with a device. In fact, it was supposed to be something as world-changing as the original Macintosh.

That revolution seems to have come to an abrupt halt.

I can understand Android tablet sales plummeting. The market was flooded with tablets that were low-cost and absolute shit — thank you for your greed and contempt for your customers, Borders Books, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart — but the iPad still falling?

I think at this point it’s fair to point the finger at another factor.

That factor is Tim Cook is not a leader.

Remember when the iPhone was introduced waaaay back when?

There were two models. A 4GB and an 8GB one.

Let me turn to iMore’s history: History of iPhone: Apple reinvents the phone:

Then there was the price. The iPhone debuted at $499 for the 4GB and $599 for the 8GB model on-contract. Those prices weren’t unheard of at the time—early Motorola RAZR flip phones were incredibly expensive as well—but it meant Apple couldn’t penetrate the mainstream market.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

But what happened next?

Steve Jobs showed he was a goddammed leader:

The price, however, kept it from getting into as many hands and lives as Apple wanted. So, at the September 5, 2007 “The Beat Goes On” music event, Steve Jobs not only introduced the first iPod touch, he announced they were dropping the 4GB iPhone entirely, and dropping the price of the 8GB iPhone to $399.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Within three months of the iPhone’s introduction, Jobs already killed one of the models and dropped the price.

And this was for a product that was popular beyond Apple’s wildest imaginings!

Here’s Apple’s press release, quoting Jobs himself:

“The surveys are in and iPhone customer satisfaction scores are higher than we’ve ever seen for any Apple product,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’ve clearly got a breakthrough product and we want to make it affordable for even more customers as we enter this holiday season.”

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Where the hell was Tim Cook at the time? Didn’t he learn anything from that bold move?

What we’ve had from the post-Jobs Apple is the atrocity of the iPad Mini actually going up in price, from its original ridiculous US$329 (it should have been US$299!) to US$399.

What the hell kind of leadership is that?

It’s not.

It tells me those in charge have zero confidence in the product and so want to squeeze every possible stray nickel out of any unit that happens to sell.

Steve Jobs wouldn’t have pulled that shit.

Not at all.

He would have said, “You know, the iPad isn’t selling in the volume I want. People really need to have this. It will change their lives. We cut prices with the iPhone, so let’s do that with the iPad too. What we lose on per-unit sales I’m sure we’ll make up in volume, accessories, app sales, and customer good will. For some people this will be their first Apple product. And that will show them what Apple means as a brand. They’ll never touch an Android device ever again. And we’ll exterminate all those crappy tablets that are misleading people about what the iPad is like.

That is leadership.

Jobs always had a vision of computing for the rest of us. From the Isaacson bio:

Their first substantive disagreement was over how to price the Macintosh. It had been conceived as a $1,000 machine, but Jobs’s design changes had pushed up the cost so that the plan was to sell it at $1,995. However, when Jobs and Sculley began making plans for a huge launch arid marketing push, Sculley decided that they needed to charge $500 more. To him, the marketing costs were like any other production cost and needed to be factored into the price. Jobs resisted, furiously. “It will destroy everything we stand for,” he said. “I want to make this a revolution, not an effort to squeeze out profits.” Sculley said it was a simple choice: He could have the $1,995 price or he could have the marketing budget for a big launch, but not both.

“You’re not going to like this,” Jobs told Hertzfeld and the other engineers, *but Sculley is insisting that we charge $2,495 for the Mac instead of $1,995.” Indeed the engineers were horrified. Hertzfeld pointed out that they were designing the Mac for people like themselves, and overpricing it would be a “betrayal” of what they stood for. So Jobs promised them, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to let him get away with it!” But in the end, Sculley prevailed. Even twenty-five years later Jobs seethed when recalling the decision: “It’s the main reason the Macintosh sales slowed arid Microsoft got to dominate the market.”

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Jobs always described computers as a bicycle for our minds:

Bicycle. Not a Rolls Royce.

In the current market — which can’t be ignored — the iPad is priced like a Rolls Royce.

Price it like a bicycle.

So, Tim Cook: Are you are leader or just someone maintaining the status quo?

Cut the iPad’s fucking price.

Show some leadership.

7 Comments

Filed under Apple: The Company

7 responses to “iPad Sales Continue To Fall: I Blame Tim Cook

  1. mac2net

    Cook is a very good CEO, but he’s not a visionary or a leader.
    The iPad is a great product and in Europe I paid €6 + 2 year contract (3gb/month for about €35 including VAT) for a v2 Mini just before the retina came out last year. Previously I paid over €100 for an iPad 2 on a 2 year contract. I could have gotten the mini many months earlier but was lazy.
    And that’s the problem with the iPad – they work so well there is no perceptive advantage for the average user to aggressively upgrade.

    • There’s still many people out there who don’t have one. They were misled by Android craptabs. And I bet many still want an iPad. Just not at the current crazy asking price.

  2. Robert Jasiek

    Falling iPad sales have several reasons:
    1) price
    2) iPad owners are happy with their earlier version and do not already need an upgrade
    3) missing access to file system, local file manager and custom configurable file access rights
    4) tablet market saturation
    5) increasing competition from low and high ends
    6) iPad Mini 4 was delayed by the unexciting Mini 3
    7) iPad Air 3 is delayed presumably by the difficulty of copying iPad Pro features (stylus, improved reduction of display mirroring) into the smaller tablet
    8) increased awareness of minor faults in the hardware, operating system, software, and license terms

    Fixing (3) alone would double sales because all those needing (3) would reconsider iPads besides Windows or Android. (1) will not change any time soon; Apple wants to collect a trillion cash.

    • Ric Day

      I agree with most of the points you make, though I think #3 is a minority issue.

      The item you left out is the impact of “tablet” size cell phones. I used to see lots of 20- and 30-something people carrying and using iPads; now I see almost none, but instead that same group all have the large-screen phones. That change in purchasing alone will have impacted iPad sales quite strongly.

  3. Robert Jasiek

    Maybe local file management is a minority point for iOS lovers. It is a majority point for Windows (not sure about Android) users considering the iPad. On the GUI, both groups could be made happy easily: provide an option to show / hide files and directories. For Apple, this is not a GUI problem but a problem of business model (easy access to files means easy export of purchased media files to different eco systems) and paradigm.(simplicity as a declared purpose on its own).

  4. “Where the hell was Cook at the time?”
    Funny, I remember reading somewhere that Tim Cook’s management of Apple’s supply chain to reduce costs was one of the major factors that allowed them to drop their prices. Was that just a myth?

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