Category Archives: iphone

10 reasons why Apple is to blame for the decline of iPad sales

KGI

It has been a tough slough for Apple’s iPad since the height of its popularity in 2013. Facing its second straight year of negative growth, there isn’t a consensus on why iPad sales have declined. I believe the slump is attributable to a combination of factors.

Apple CEO Tim Cook called the declining iPad sales a “speed bump” last year before the launch of the 2014 models, but we haven’t seen what Apple plans to do to rejuvenate the product. From my point of view, Apple itself has done more to hurt iPad sales than any external factor, such as Microsoft or Google.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Here’s a full explanation of my theory…

1. Apple’s bigger iPhone 6 Plus phablet has made the once popular iPad mini all but pointless. That’s not entirely true – there are significant cost differences and over 2 inches of additional diagonal screen real estate – but having a huge iPhone makes having a small tablet a lot less desirable. Combine that with the fact that most people buy their phones subsidized, and a much faster, sleeker iPhone 6 Plus costs about the same as an iPad mini up front.

Below the cannibalization of the iPad is shown in a chart from Credit Suisse. Characterizing phablets as “4+ inches” seems a little out of date, but the point is clear, phablets like the iPhone 6 are eating into tablet share across the board.
phablet killing ipad

2. This year’s iPad hardware updates weren’t terribly magical. The iPad mini got Touch ID (at a $100 price premium). The Air 2 got both faster and lighter, which is always great. And both became available in gold. But for people like me who are very content with the iPad Air – discussed in point 10 below – adding Touch ID or a golden housing wasn’t a big enough incentive to upgrade. Would sales have taken off if Apple offered more storage on the lower end, more laptop-like features, or lower costs?

3. New tiny 12-inch MacBook sales will impact professional/luxury iPad users. The 2-lb light weight and super portability will bring over folks who can spend a lot to get the latest technology. In fact, lowering the prices on the very popular MacBook Air to near cost parity per GB basis also makes a MacBook Air seem like the better deal (128GB MacBook Air: $899 retail, but often lower, versus 128GB iPad w/cellular: $829).

When I go to bed at night and have my iPad Air for consumption, there is often something important that I can only do well on my Mac (like adding something important to this post). This has happened so many times that the iPad doesn’t get picked up at bedtime much anymore. If I lost my iPad Air this week, I’d probably replace it with a MacBook.

4. Split screen iPad support and other laptop-like functionality is late in coming. If those features come out this year, and I think they will, a lot of professionals will jump on board. Currently functionality that makes an iPad a better solution to a problem than a laptop is often lacking.

5. Microsoft and its ecosystem have been making inroads into the professional ranks. You have to admit some of the hardware the Windows folks are putting out isn’t bad, especially when a hybrid computer can go from a MacBook Air form factor into a tablet form factor with a swinging hinge. Yes, I know Apple’s philosophy is not to marry toasters and refrigerators, but tablets and laptops aren’t that different anymore.

Even if they aren’t right, many folks will choose a convertible laptop-tablet PC over an iPad or a MacBook for that matter.

6imgres. Chromebooks in education. Google Chromebooks have been eating Apple’s lunch in education and ironically the iconic appeal of the iPad is partially responsible. A sysadmin for a large school district tells me that the iPad trials went something like this: 100 iPads were given out to 4th graders. Within a month, over 50% of them went missing, and a few of them broke, while 10% of them were jailbroken or hacked. At the same time, with a similar Chromebook rollout, only 10% went missing, a few of them broke, and none of them were hacked (though it is certainly hackable). Give kids free iPads and they’ll have a tendency to disappear or get subverted for personal gain.

Apple has done some work in getting its iPads in schools with some noted success and other spectacular failures.  A new initiative may really help but the fact that most schools either have Microsoft or Google email/apps on the backend means it is going to be tough.

7.  Pricing. Apple could sell iPads at lower price points if it really wanted to. In fact, we’ve seen major retailers cutting as much as $130 off the price of new iPad Air 2s, and up to $200 on the high-end models. Subsidies are another option. Apple was able to stave off any encroachment from the Amazon Fire Phone because it offers iPhones at low price points (including “free” with plan). Apple, however, has no protection for its iPad line when Amazon comes in at $100 or less for a new Fire tablet. Fire tablets continue to be popular though Amazon won’t let you know any numbers.  Spotting a Fire Phone is harder than finding a Sasquatch.

Also, 16GB is not enough space on the low end. Apple can afford to pop in 32GB of storage on the entry-level iPads and I think they will go up to this amount this year. 16GB isn’t enough for even a base model iPhone in my opinion, and with the bigger display, iPad apps need bigger files.

8. Killer App? You need a smartphone for certain things. You need a computing device for other things. There are very few apps that need an iPad, especially when you have a big iPhone in your pocket and a 2 lb. Mac next to your bed.

9. Marketing and the Apple Watch. iPad hasn’t been getting the marketing spend it got in its first years for a variety of reasons. Last year Apple had the big iPhones to explain to the public. Before that it was iOS 7’s new look and feel. This year it seems Apple is focusing its attention and every extra marketing dollar on the Apple Watch.

But Apple Watch isn’t just hurting the iPad from a marketing standpoint. Those of us who have a yearly Apple discretionary fund of $500 or so bucks aren’t likely going to put it towards the iPad this year. And Apple announced the Watch right before the holiday shopping season. Sure, that was mostly to dissuade people from buying other watches, but some folks also probably held off on Apple purchases.

ipad-iphone-mac

On a higher level, it also makes me wonder if Apple’s got a new paradigm. Instead of iPhone|iPad|Mac, is Apple now promoting: Watch+CarPlay+Apple TV+Accessories|iPhone|Mac in its “3 screens” paradigm? Where does iPad fit?

10. Perhaps this is unintuitive, but Apple’s incredible build quality coupled with genuine efforts to update old iPads to the latest version of iOS has made the decision to purchase a new iPad a difficult one. My old iPads still look, feel and work great. My son can still use our original iPad and a lot of the apps he likes. I bought an iPad Air last year, and it is hard to justify the purchase of a new one (even though retailers are discounting the heck out of them). My wife uses an iPad 3, and for what she does on it, there is no reason to update.

The good news here is that much of the iPad’s sales decline can be fixed by Apple, because it’s responsible for most of the issues above. An iPad Pro, price drops, a better iPad iOS version with split-screen support, and better integration with keyboards are all ways Apple could stop the decline in iPad sales and get the platform growing again. More and more engaging marketing wouldn’t hurt, either.

Perhaps Apple can fit iPad in between the Apple Watch launch and the launch of the new Apple TV?


Filed under: AAPL Company, iOS Devices, Opinion Tagged: Apple Inc, Apple watch, decline, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Market share, Microsoft, Revenue

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Wired video abuses ultra-protective iPhone cases, two withstand slams, one even survives falling safe

Most cases will protect your iPhone during regular use, and many can handle accidental drops and a little abuse, but very few can withstand deliberate punishment. An amusing new Battle Damage video from Wired uses abusive tests to crown the “toughest iPhone case ever” from four different ultra-protective models: Griffin’s $50 Survivor,* LifeProof’s $80 Fre, Lunatik’s $125 Taktik Extreme, and Otterbox’s $50 Defender. The iPhone 5 units inside the Griffin Survivor and LifeProof Fre don’t make it through the first test, a hard smash of the encased iPhone on a hard floor, but Lunatik’s Extreme and Otterbox’s Defender go onto a second test: attempting to withstand a 50-pound safe while standing in a completely vertical position.

Unless you’re planning to drop a safe on your upright iPhone, the smaller and more affordable Defender seems like a smarter choice. But only Lunatik’s metal-reinforced Extreme survived the safe-dropping test; an iPhone 6 version hasn’t yet been released. Most people will do just fine with regular iPhone cases (or great iPhone battery cases), but if you want something that can protect against Looney Tunes-like antics, check out the video for some nice camera work and screen-shattering fun.

[* Note: Wired claims that the Griffin Survivor case shown in the video is Survivor Slim, but it looks more likely to be Survivor + Catalyst, a now-discontinued $80 model that was marketed as waterproof. Thanks, Nick!]


Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: accidental damage, battery cases, battle damage, Damage, Griffin, iPhone, iPhone 5, iPhone 6, LifeProof, lunatik, OtterBox, Protective cases

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Apple to expand iPhone trade-in program to China next week, Foxconn to resell devices on secondary markets

iphone-6-plus

Apple will begin rolling out an iPhone trade-in program in China in the near future. The option may become available in stores as soon as March 31st, allowing Chinese users to take advantage of the program that has helped boost iPhone sales in several countries already, including the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

Chinese retail employees will determine the condition of the phone being traded in, and offer Apple Store credit to customers, Bloomberg reports. Devices that are traded in will be sold to Foxconn by Apple. The manufacturing partner will then make any necessary repairs and resell them through its own online outlets:

Under the China program, retail staff at Apple outlets will assess an iPhone’s condition before offering store credit for those originally bought in Greater China, the person said. Foxconn will buy the phone directly without Apple ever taking ownership, according to the person. Foxconn will repair the devices if needed and then sell them through its e-commerce sites eFeihu and FLNet, and through Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Taobao online store, one person said. Foxconn also is in talks to sell the iPhones through physical stores and may take the trade-in program online in the future, the person said.

While Apple is soon launching an Android trade-in program that lets users switching from competing handsets earn money toward their new iPhone by handing over their old device, the China trade-in offer will apply to iPhones only for the time being.

Following China, only a few major markets with Apple Stores,  such as Turkey and Brazil, will be left without in-house iPhone trade-in options. Apple’s new retail chief has been focusing on improving the company’s presence in China, with several new Apple Stores opening within the country in recent months.


Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: Apple Retail, china, iPhone, trade-in

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Apple to expand iPhone trade-in program to China next week, Foxconn to resell devices on secondary markets

iphone-6-plus

Apple will begin rolling out an iPhone trade-in program in China in the near future. The option may become available in stores as soon as March 31st, allowing Chinese users to take advantage of the program that has helped boost iPhone sales in several countries already, including the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

Chinese retail employees will determine the condition of the phone being traded in, and offer Apple Store credit to customers, Bloomberg reports. Devices that are traded in will be sold to Foxconn by Apple. The manufacturing partner will then make any necessary repairs and resell them through its own online outlets:

Under the China program, retail staff at Apple outlets will assess an iPhone’s condition before offering store credit for those originally bought in Greater China, the person said. Foxconn will buy the phone directly without Apple ever taking ownership, according to the person. Foxconn will repair the devices if needed and then sell them through its e-commerce sites eFeihu and FLNet, and through Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Taobao online store, one person said. Foxconn also is in talks to sell the iPhones through physical stores and may take the trade-in program online in the future, the person said.

While Apple is soon launching an Android trade-in program that lets users switching from competing handsets earn money toward their new iPhone by handing over their old device, the China trade-in offer will apply to iPhones only for the time being.

Following China, only a few major markets with Apple Stores,  such as Turkey and Brazil, will be left without in-house iPhone trade-in options. Apple’s new retail chief has been focusing on improving the company’s presence in China, with several new Apple Stores opening within the country in recent months.


Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: Apple Retail, china, iPhone, trade-in

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Review: Filters, a new photo editor for iPhone with over 800 image effects and a stunning design

Mike Rundle, an independent designer and developer, is today releasing Filters for iPhone ($0.99), a visual effects photo editor. Rundle’s integrated development workflow, both writing the code and designing the interface, shows through in his work. This is how Filters describes itself.

You don’t take photos with Filters. You transform them. Filters has over 800 ways to transform your photographs including fully adjustable authentic vintage film recreations, hand-painted textures, vibrant colored gel overlays, special multi-effect adjustments (Shine, Luna, Color Boost, Intimidate and Smart Fade) as well as standard image adjustment tools like brightness, contrast, color temperature, exposure and more. All features are included with nothing extra to purchase.
The app features over 800 different image effects presented with some of the best UI design I’ve seen. However there’s no getting away from the fact Filters enters a crowded market with stiff competition. It’s interesting to see how Rundle has tried to differentiate his app from the rest. Read on for our full review of the iPhone’s newest image app.

Filters-Main-Screen IMG_0619

Filters boils down to one canvas view. Along the top row of buttons are import and export actions. Share is probably a better description than ‘export’ — you don’t save anything in Filters itself. There’s no album complexity to worry about. The workflow is very straightforward — import from Photo Library, edit using Filters, share back out again. There are also the other miscellaneous help and undo buttons. To signify their relative insignificance, these four buttons are colored in a dull gray.

Meanwhile, the rainbow themed icons are where the interesting stuff happens. The four icons represent filters, overlays, effects and favorites. These are the things that actually change the image which sits in between the two toolbars. On first launch, these buttons slide into place with a nice spring — Rundle’s experience as both designer and engineer starts to show through.

When you select an image, the background changes to a dynamically blurred version of the same photo. This is pure eye-candy but it does look good. A clever touch is Filters never has a blank canvas. If you don’t load an image yourself, Filters opens with one of a few preloaded images. You can start fiddling about with the app’s features without worrying about which image to pick. It takes the pressure off.

Clicking on an effect button opens a popover tray with subcategories to select from. I was happy to see that Rundle coded his own popover views, as I personally think native popovers are atrociously designed. The ones used in Filters are nicely color-matched with the icon color and are, of course, accompanied by a spring transition.

Filters-Vintage-Previews Filters-Overlay-Previews

The popovers are essentially used to create an icon based menu. Clicking on one of these icons opens up the options for the corresponding filter. For example, clicking on the snow-flake opens up a selection of Cool Filters.

‘A selection of filters’ is a bit of an understatement. There are loads of different variants in every category (over 800 in total), maybe too many that it becomes overwhelming. The wide range of offers does mean that you can produce a lot of different end-results though. Most of the options are different enough to warrant having their own option. Every filter is numbered so you can find it again later or you can explicitly favorite it as a bookmark.

When you pick a particular filter, the ‘intensity’ screen opens which features a single slider. Dragging the slider changes how much the effect is applied to the picture. At any time, you can long-press on the canvas to compare with what the image looked like before. Press the green tick to confirm and you are done. The second button, Overlays, work in the same way except it lets you add things like light leaks and superimposed textures.

Personally, I found the app works best when you combine filters with overlays to create the final image. Unlike apps like Pixelmator though, you can’t rotate overlays to position them how you want. In fact, you can’t crop or rotate your image at all. For version 1.0, Rundle expects those transformations to happen in other apps.

Filters-Effects-Menu Filters-Intensity-Adjustment

The third set of features, represented by a magic wand, is labelled ‘Effects’. This contains typical image adjustments like brightness and contrast but also mixes in some ‘smarter’ effects that use image analysis to dynamically apply them.

These special effects look cool but they are hard to describe. I don’t think the iconography Rundle chose for this works great either — I was really lost about when and how I use these options mainly because I don’t really know what they do. I open the Effects toolbox as a bit of a gamble to try the advanced effects. Sometimes, it works and the resultant photo looks good. It’s a bit of a shot in the dark.

However, even if you don’t take advantage of these special effects, you still get a lot of mileage out of the first two categories by themselves: filters and overlays. I find it really fun to quickly flick the list of filters, pick one that I like from the preview, add an overlay and post. It isn’t just a gimmick either. Rundle has some examples on his website of professional photos being enhanced by his app.

Once you are done, there are direct menu options to share back to your Photo Library, send to Instagram, as well as a way to get to the system Share Sheet so you can use any third-party sharing extensions.

Filters-Icon

Filters also looks good on your Home Screen.

For future updates, Rundle has announced that he is working on landscape mode, realtime intensity adjustments and more settings for previews. Landscape support is particularly important to me for a photo app and was the thing I particularly missed during my time testing Filters.

You can get Filters from the App Store for just $0.99. There are no in-app purchases or upsells: you get all 800 effects bundled into a really pretty interface. Check out more information at Rundle’s website.


Filed under: Apps, iOS, Reviews Tagged: Apps, filters, Image, iPhone, photo, video

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