Apple CEO Tim Cook Addresses The iPad’s Continued Lack Of Sales Growth

During today’s earnings call for Apple’s fiscal Q4 2014, CEO Tim Cook took time to address the iPad’s performance at length. Cook referred to a lot of the general kinds of negative feeling around iPad performance circulating around media and analysts, and brought up his own perspective on the product category.

“I take a step back on iPad,” he said. “I know that there’s a lot of negative commentary in the market on iPad, but i have a sort of different perspective on it […] We’ve sold 247 million over the first four years, that’s more than we sold over the first four years of iPhone.”

“To me, I view it as a speed bump, not a huge issue,” he added, referencing the lack of growth year-over-year for iPad during the past three quarters. “That said, we want to grow, we don’t like negative numbers on these things.”

Cook said that while there’s a popular view among critics that the tablet market is saturated, that’s not what he’s seeing from the available data. He cited market research from this past June, which revealed that in the top six countries for Apple in terms of revenue generation, the one that showed the lowest percentage of iPads sold to people who’d never owned one before still showed over 50 percent sold to new buyers, with the range over the rest of the countries spanning 50 to 70 percent.

Those numbers don’t indicate a saturated market, Cook says – and indeed, they do seem to suggest there are still a lot of potential new buyers for iPad devices. He maintains that it’s too early to tell what kind of upgrade cycle consumers have when it comes to the iPad, given that we’re only four years into its existence. Cook also said that, in response to suggestions that other product categories are cannabalizing iPad sales, he conceded that some customers are probably opting to purchase Macs or iPhones instead of iPads, and also that he had no problem with that – an expression of Apple’s continuing willingness to eat into parts of their own business with successful products from others.

“I’m very bullish on where we can take iPad over time,” Cook said, saying that the long view on the product tells a better story than snapshots of performance over a brief period. We’re continuing to invest in the product pipeline, we’re continuing to invest in distribution.”