Question: Will PC-like upgrade cycles keep iPad sales flat? I can tell you that here at Casa Verde, the answer is an unequivocal Yes.
Four years ago, Melissa and I bought two of the first-generation iPads. I upgraded mine to the original Retina Display model in 2012, because I do a lot of photo editing on the thing. Melissa finally upgraded to the new iPad Air late last year, but only because two of her favorite apps would no longer upgrade on a 2010 model. But that’s not to say we threw the old ones away. Mine is now armored in a very strong Fisher-Price kid case and is one of my three-year-old’s favorite toys. The other is mounted on a fold-away arm under a kitchen cabinet, where it runs our favorite recipe app, Paprika. Our older son has a first-generation iPad mini from 2012 which has taken all the abuse an eight-year-old can dish out, and then some.
Of the five iPads purchased by the Greens over the last four years, all five are still being used. I don’t have any reason to upgrade, since the A5X chip in the 2012 Retina model can still handle anything I throw at it. Melissa got three years out of her iPad 1, which was a slow beast even when new. She should get five years out of her Air. Preston’s mini has essentially the same CPU as my Retina, so he should be good for as long as I am.
So after an initial burst of purchases, we’re covered for a few more years — just like the broader market.
This might be a good time to mention that PC upgrade cycles aren’t what they once were, either. Before I switched to Mac, I’d buy a new top-of-the-line-everything Windows PC about every 30 months. And in between, I’d upgrade pretty much anything upgradeable. But my first iMac lasted more than four years, and is still in service for the kids. My first Mac Pro lasted five years, upgraded just this month to a new Mac Pro I expect will stick around even longer. (Damn fool trashcan-looking thing has no moving parts; it had better last longer!)
Thirty months became four years became five years will become six years? Seven?
I dunno, but if my buying habits are any indication, then the slump in the PC and tablet markets* might be a long-lasting trend.
*Don’t talk to me about explosive growth in Android tablet sales, because those are almost entirely Crackerjack models people don’t actually use for anything, as usage statistics bear out. Even Samsung got caught lying about its Galaxy Tab sales figures.