There's little doubt that the iPad has revolutionized the PC industry, ushering us into a "post-PC" era. But while sales of Apple’s iconic tablet are still robust, there are signs that they may be softening. If you dig into the sales numbers Apple issues every quarter and look at them over a longer time-frame, you have to wonder what slowing iPad sales could mean for the company moving forward.
Good news, bad news
When Apple introduced the iPad in January 2010, the rest of the tablet industry was miles behind. Despite months of rumors about the forthcoming product, no other tech company was prepared to match Apple’s sleek, $500 creation when it launched. Early Android tablets like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Motorola’s Xoom were critical disappointments and commercial flops. When Google finally released a version of Android designed for tablets, it was buggy and slow, with hardly any tablet-optimized apps. Apple’s iPad wasn’t just the best tablet on the market: it was the only tablet worth considering.
Apple reaped the rewards. In its 2010 fiscal year, the first year the iPad was on sale, Apple sold 7.5 million of the things; in 2011, sales more than quadrupled to 32.4 million. With every passing quarter, year-over-year unit sales doubled or sometimes tripled. In the 2013 fiscal year (which ended this past September), Apple sold 58.3 million iPads.