Tag Archives: iPad

Q2 Round-up: New iPad Launch Softens Consumer Slate Sales Slump

With unrivalled insight into the Western Europe ICT supply chain, CONTEXT has been following with interest the evolution of the PC and mobile computing market. In many ways, Q2 saw a continuation of trends, with PC volume sales continuing to fall and consumer tablet demand remaining weak as buyers divert their spending to smartphones.

However, as always, there were some interesting caveats behind the headline statistics, not least the impressive performance of the new iPad launched in March.

Tablets and detachables
It’s true that overall consumer tablet demand remained weak during the second quarter. Shoppers continued to shift their budgets to other technologies that have come to represent the content consumption devices of choice in this market segment. Larger screened smartphones in particular have become popular for activities like writing emails and using apps as they’re always on and close-at-hand for consumers.

However, year-on-year volume decline was softened somewhat thanks to the launch in March of Apple’s seventh generation iPad. The 9.7in tablet is more powerful than the iPad Air 2 but also heavier and lacking several of the latter’s features such as a Smart Connector, and fully laminated, anti-reflective screen. However, its relatively low-price tag seems to have attracted consumers in large numbers and it sold well in Q2.

This is not unusual for Apple products, which often see strong initial sales. But if consumers continue to flock to the model, it would seem to suggest there’s a need for a high-quality iPad option with a price point more in line with current market trends.

Elsewhere, business detachables continued to grow year-on-year in Q2, dominated by Apple and Microsoft products but with Lenovo making impressive inroads. New products such as Apple’s iPad Pro with a 10.5in screen and Microsoft’s fifth generation Surface Pro helped drive this growth. Business detachables still aren’t selling in huge volumes, but it was one of the few segments to post growth in the quarter.

PC Average Selling Prices continue to rise
On the face of it, the PC market overall saw a bigger than expected drop of -15% year-on-year in terms of volume sales. However, there’s more to this trend than meets the eye. For one, Q2 2017 had fewer trading days than the same period last year and some April sales had been brought forward to March in anticipation of rising prices.

Despite weak demand in some segments, the quarter fared better from a revenue perspective, down just -2% year-on-year as average selling prices (ASPs) continued to rise. The growth in ASPs year-on-year continues to be driven by a blend of currency, component costs and a richer product mix; with the shift to high-end models a welcome continued trend.

Weaker-than-expected sell-through meant that inventory levels are a bit higher than desired, but not worryingly so. It’s likely that the “back-to-school” period will be used to get rid of extra stock, driving a reduction in pricing quarter-on-quarter.

by MCP

 

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Do we need a giant iPad?

‘Larger devices such as laptops much be switched off and safely stowed…’ said the safety announcement as I typed away.

Scanning the aisles, the flight attendant stopped next to my seat.

“Excuse me sir”, he said with a weary sigh, looking at me reproachfully in a “why can’t these passengers do what they’re told” way.

“Can you put that laptop away until we’re airborne, please.”

I smiled.

“That’s not a laptop,” I said, sensing victory, but trying not to sound smug. I waited, and then added, slowly and carefully, savouring the words:

“It’s an iPad.”

The attendant narrowed his eyes, and as he paused I pressed home my advantage.

“And it’s the big one.. the new iPad Pro.”

The flight attendant took a closer look, saw the familiar iOS icons, and – either baffled or impressed – decided not to argue, and moved on down the aircraft.

And that’s the thing about Apple’s new iPad Pro – it’s huge.

Its not that much narrower all around than my MacBook Pro 15″. In fact, it’s the size of two normal iPads stuck together side by side.

But seeing the new iPad Pro in pictures and on your computer is nothing compared to opening the big white box it comes in and pulling out the huge 12 inches by 8.68 inches wide slab of screen. It takes a few minutes to adjust the senses, especially when you’ve been used to playing with the drop dead gorgeous and right-sized iPad Air.

Set up is typically Apple-easy, and once it fires up, you can really experience the size. Everything is scaled up. The icons seem to jump out of the screen. And the screen is truly amazing. With the brightness turned up and a high resolution picture on display, the colours dazzle, resolution is pin sharp and it seems like you’re looking into the depths of a 3D image.

I’d read a review comparing the speed of the iPad Pro with a MacBook Air, but wasn’t prepared for the difference between my iPad Air and the Pro. The pro flies.

Boot up is notably fast. Response is instantaneous. Screens come and go so smooth and fast it’s like being in a race and always being beaten to second place. I’ve not run any tests, but the screen on the iPad Pro seems to respond even more quickly than my MacBook Pro 15’ Retina display. No shadow effect either but that’s another story.

But why a giant iPad? Yes, it’s a lovely device and beautifully crafted. But where does it fit? There’s little doubt that Microsoft’s Surface Pro has a lot to do with it, that businesses – according to CONTEXT numbers – like the idea of a high-powered laptop/tablet hybrid. Apple’s push into business needs this product, and even Apple CEO Tim Cook himself says the iPad Pro will replace laptops.

I can see why. The combination of touch and keyboard is liberating. The Apple keypad works, in fact better than the Clamcase Pro I have on the Air. The connector is brilliant and takes all the problems out of detachable keyboards. To me it feels natural, typing away and then darting to and from the screen to touch a spelling correction here, copy and paste there, while casually scrolling around.

But… I’m hesitating. My MacBook Pro is a pocket rocket, yet even though I’m loath to give up all that power and storage, I’ll give it a go. I’ll leave the MacBook at home, and do the office thing with the iPad Pro. I know travelling works because I do it with the iPad Air all the time. Plus nearly everything I need to access is on the Cloud.

What could go wrong?

This is going to be fun.

by JD

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Apple results break world record for sales. So how did they do it? And what does it mean for the market?

On 27 January 2015, Apple made the most significant announcement in their history post-Steve Jobs: they are the most profitable company, EVER!

So how did they do it? And what does it mean for the market?

We have always assumed that when Apple launched a product, it created the market. But, in most cases, the markets already existed.

From the first computer to the iPod and the iPhone, there were a number of start-up companies, and some larger ones, already operating in these segments.  Apple’s typical business model is to set out to redefine the segment, regardless. Consequently, through clever marketing and positioning, consumers think that segment has always belonged to Apple. Take the iPod, for example.  At the start, household brands such as Sony owned the market for portable music players. For mobile phones, it was Nokia. The portable organiser market was more fragmented with no real leader. Seeing their opportunity, Apple introduced the iPad, securing dominance that would then strengthen their position over the other two markets.

The last 18 months have not been easy for Apple. Samsung have taken the lead in the smartphone segment and various Intellectual Property battles have taken the shine off their offering. But with the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, they’ve set about redefining the large-screen smartphone market and have succeeded in an instant, as highlighted by the staggering results in the first quarter following the product launch.

So what might be in store over the next three years, particularly in the current hot area of wearables and Connected Home?

Before addressing this market, Apple needed a sales boost in their sweet-spot smartphone segment thanks to the iPhone 6; to regain share and show the world that they can and will own the market again when it comes to user experience and apps. This is particularly relevant as tablet and smartphone sales are posting a reduction whereas apps sales are seeing a significant growth and are an increasing source of profit. The iPhone 6 is laying the path for the Apple Watch, which is due for launch in April and will be a significant product for the company. Why? Because it allows Apple to remain close to their users, either in the pocket or now the wrist, and track key user behaviours, but more essentially provide the platform that will allow consumers to make payments and interact with technology, particularly home appliances and cars. They have already launched Apple Pay, a payments method which is now rolling out as more merchants embrace the new technology. On the B2B side, Apple is partnering with IBM, the latter very eager to focus on software around big data, social and mobile whilst at the same time shedding their server hardware business to Lenovo.

But what about the consumer interaction with “Things”?

The Internet Of Things is clearly an arena in which Apple will be a big player in the future amongst other such as Cisco, who are keen to justify their dominance in Networking. They are working on their Connected Home developer kit, HomeKit, which should launch in April, perhaps even at the same time as the Apple Watch. There are already plenty of players in those two segments, both start-ups and very big brands such as Google (via Nest/Revolve) and Samsung (SmartThings), but we should expect Apple to redefine the segments too. If this does not happen from launch, Apple will quickly correct it, making all their profit work towards success.

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The iPhone 6 and 6Plus – just what we expected and thank goodness we did get the two screen sizes!

It did not start well. I switched on the TV, fired up the Apple TV, and me and my wife settled down with a cool glass of Pino Grigio to watch Tim Cook and gang reveal all at Apple’s Flint Center event.

The broadcast started. But what was that in the background? Simultaneous translations mixed in with Tim Cook’s opening. Bedlam.

I can’t watch this, said my wife, it’s awful.

Suddenly the Apple TV stopped. Black screen and message Content Not Available – Try Again Later. Then a TV test screen appeared, and a few seconds later the broadcast started again, but with the translation. From the beginning.

I dumped my glass of wine and  fired up my iPad mini, got the broadcast going on Safari, but still the multiple sound track. OK, let’s try the big guns, so I junked the iPad and switched on the MacBook Pro.

Same problem.

I’m watching TV, said my wife, this is a total waste of time.

Not the best start to the world’s most anticipated product launch from the world leader in making technology accessible to the masses.

But it was worth the wait and multiple restarts on the live stream. The iPhone 6 and 6Plus – just what we expected and thank goodness we did get the two screen sizes.

Apple Pay, long rumoured but the scope surprises. Getting all the partners lined up is an amazing achievement.

But the jewel in the event’s crown has to be Apple Watch, exceeding all expectations with stunning designs, and the brilliantly simple and elegant Digital Crown controller. The user interface looks easy and intuitive. And what a slam dunk with the three model ranges and optional straps. They have the market covered and at surprisingly accessible price range.

At a stroke Apple have redefined the category, which is what they do best, and just what they needed to do today. Phew!

And I’m joining the queue for the iPhone 6plus, and putting my iPads out to pasture. Can’t wait!

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When I’m 64…

I turned 64 this year and corny as it might sound, I really did listen to myself hum the iconic Beatles song. I remember when it first came out, and it was mind warping to sit back within myself and realise that I was there when the song was created, and had now arrived at a point in my life that I could not even consider when I was in my teens. “Will you still need me”… the catchy tune and poignant phrases are so relevant today as I face moving ever closer to my 70’s, and beyond.

I suppose that must be a bit how Apple could be feeling these days, with the imminent launch of whatever it is they will launch on September 9th, but will probably be the iPhone 6, and if we’re  lucky some game-changing giant-sized iPads, and perhaps even something Apple we can strap to our wrists.

The future, however, is uncertain. It’s one thing to have a single killer product in a relatively new area that you can dominate, than fighting to compete with a host of imitators all doing it at much lower prices, while still searching for the “next big thing”.

In a previous blog I already mused about my future and Tablets: with a larger smartphone screen, will I need the iPad mini or for that matter any iPad at all. As far as new areas go, I think unless a wearable can read your blood pressure and sugar levels and use this to accurately monitor your health in a meaningful way, then I’m not interested in knowing how much I toss and turn at night and how many steps I walked that day.

Yes, September 9th will be a turning point for Apple, there’s no doubt about it. And unless the company can come up with some game-changers, it may not be long before they too might be humming the Beatles song, and wondering how to get people to need them, as they get older.

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The iPhone 6 cometh…

The new iPhone 6 is soon to be upon us, and maybe this time I will upgrade. I resisted the urge to go to the new iPhone from my 5 last time around as I struggled with rationalising the benefits, such as a faster processor, fingerprint recognition and … ?, but maybe it’s different this time. Why? because I’ll probably be saying goodbye to all my iPads. Why? because if – as rumoured – the iPhone 6 has that glorious big display, then I will have reached a goal I searched for during the brief period I was in love my HTC One. Phone, pictures, internet and sat nav, all in one device, and a screen size just right for everything on the move. It’s amazing what a difference that extra inch of screen real estate makes. So much so that I bought all the accessories for the HTC including an extremely clever car dock that, when connected, knew you were in a car, and switched to car mode with big buttons, sat nav on tap, and message reading. I used it with CoPilot and the Google maps on trips across Europe and it never failed.

In the end it was Android that finally turned me away. Yes the HTC had a very neat trick that when I connected to my MacBook Pro, a message popped up saying “hey, I notice you have an iPhone backup file on your Mac. Would you like me to import your messages, photos, music etc”. But the One never sat easily beside my OSx environment, I’m still picking up the pieces from the Android and IOS mating that cluttered my MacBook Pro. With a twinge of regret I reverted to my iPhone.

So to get a big screen that does phone, and sits nicely in my Apple world would be heaven. But as I said at the beginning, what about my iPads? My original iPad has been collecting dust ever since I got the mini, and frankly the  mini hasn’t had an outing in weeks. And no, I didn’t go for the last refresh on either of those either.

There’s a lot riding for Apple on the iPhone 6. If my experience is anything to go by, there will be people making choices between Apple devices as opposed to building a fleet as has been the case in the past. I’m sure Apple has this all thought out, but it will be interesting to see the impact on Tablet numbers when, or should I say if, the larger screen size options on the new iPhone 6 are announced.

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