A new study posted by ABI today states that in the past year Apple's tablet OEM competitors experienced a growth of 79%, while Apple experienced only 13% growth in tablet shipments. The negative iPad trend continued into 2014 with IDC's first quarter statistics showing that the iPad lost 16% market share over Q1 2013. Yet Apple's new CFO Luca Maestri and CEO Tim Cook spent a lot of time during the company's financial conference call in April to bolster the iPad's image by quoting some rather impressive statistics. Specifically Cook noted that in the enterprise market they're virtually seeing 98% of the fortune 500 using iPads and in the latest data, 91% of the activations of tablets in the enterprise were iPad. Beyond the enterprise, he noted that Apple has over 95% of the education market according to an IDC study. This is real-world progress on the tablet front vs. quoting blind "shipment" statistics that are meaningless without a real context. Not that the analysts are listening though.
ABI's new report states that "despite growing challenges, as the tablet market reaches saturation in advanced world markets, the company projects that Apple will remain a strong force in the market if it emphasizes its strengths and explores new opportunities."
ABI Research noted that they "explored the history of Apple and its iPad business model, which has delivered tremendous success for Apple. ABI Research analyst Stephanie Van Vactor stated that "Historically, Apple has dominated the market, but the current shift in the ecosystem has raised question marks over its control and future. Although its competitors using Google’s Android OS have surpassed Apple’s unit volume, iPad revenues for 2013 still exceeded the rest of the market by 11%.
Apple and the tablet market have reached a fork in the road; however, opportunities to explore new avenues do exist. Apple’s creative vision has been the core of its business model and iPad implementation. Apple’s 'less is more' strategy gives it the innate ability to show success in the early stages but begins to display signs of vulnerability as the market matures. Is Apple losing its momentum, or are Samsung and others catching up as consumers are presented with a variety of choices in display size, connectivity, and price?
With the right partnerships, especially in the business and education sectors, iPad could continue to expand its market reach. 'Apple has the power to market to different regions where tablet adoption is low, and building relationships with business vertical sectors can help expand its breadth,' adds senior practice director Jeff Orr. Although Apple’s ASP for its iPad remains considerably higher than other tablet OEMs, it still has the advantage of offering its closed iOS ecosystem services via the iTunes app store."
When listening to Apple's CEO Tim Cook make his case in April during the company's financial conference, it was clear that Apple didn't view the drop in iPad numbers as anything but a miscommunication with Wall Street. He made his case and it was a strong one. One that showed that Apple is in no way near any crossroads with iPad development.
Perhaps ABI's analyst was just too busy working on his report on the tablet world and missed Tim Cook's commentary. Because at the end of the day, the two views of the iPad market are dramatically at odds.