After its inaugural week on the market, Apple’s shiny new tablet, the iPad Pro, claimed just 0.03 percent of total iPad market share. Given that the company recently reported a 20 percent decline in iPad sales, the release of the iPad Pro is all the more interesting as the industry at large debates the future of the tablet. But there are plenty of reasons to expect success for this new device.
Taking on the “phablet”
Apple has been positioning the iPad Pro as a tool for business, an emerging territory for the tablet market. With accessories such as a stylus and detachable keyboard, Apple is transitioning from a consumption-centric device to one with an emphasis on work capabilities.
Opportunity for iPad Pro: This transition just might prevent the tablet from being phased out by the “phablet” by providing services that a phablet can’t.
Where the tablet is today
Amongst Apple’s tablet models, the iPad 2 remains the most adopted – with 20 percent of the current market share. The company’s most recent models – the iPad Air 2, the iPad Mini 3, and the iPad Mini 4 – have a combined share of just 12 percent of the market.
Opportunity for iPad Pro: It’s the first iPad in recent years to make significant changes from its predecessors, most notably in the size of the device. Its screen size is a whopping 12.9 inches, a 25 percent increase over the previous Air models and a 39 percent increase from the Mini models. Previous research has shown that larger-screen devices have led to more app engagement and up to 34 percent more time spent in-app. This has proved true with the new iPad Pro, which had the longest average app session length of any iPad model in its first week, at almost five minutes.
As apps continue to grow in popularity and necessity, all signs point to the new, large iPad Pro as offering a great user engagement opportunity for app publishers and brands.
The role of iOS 9
Currently, 64 percent of iPhones have upgraded to iOS 9, while 54 percent of iPads have the newest operating system.
Opportunity for iPad Pro: The best features of the new OS – picture in picture, slide over, and split view – aren’t available on the older iPad models, which may be Apple’s “in” to encourage users to upgrade to the iPad Pro, where all three features come preprogrammed.
Low early adoption might be iPad Pro’s Trojan horse
Early adopters have not been kind to iPads the way they have been to iPhones. The iPad Mini 4 (released Sept. 2015) had just a 0.2 percent adoption rate in its first month. All of the models released in the last three years have had low adoption rates in the first month (with the exception of the iPad third generation, which had very little competition at the time). As more models have been released, users seem to have found the lack of differentiation between models as a reason not to upgrade.
But this release is different. Not only is the iPad Pro set apart from previous releases by things like new accessories and an upgraded operating system, but the enterprise is hungry for a viable tablet option.
For Apple and the iPad Pro, it might just be that all the pieces are coming together. And since we’re staring down the holiday season, where we can expect people to add new devices like the iPad Pro to their wishlists, we should see a change in adoption numbers soon.
Raj Aggarwal is CEO and cofounder of Localytics.