Apple has plenty to be happy about right now. The company sold record amounts of iPhones during the last quarter, while sales of Macs are also on the rise (a rarity in the PC market). Things are only going to be better as well, because a new iPhone (maybe two) will land in just over a week’s time, surely spurring on sales and profit to new heights through the remainder of the year. There’s always a but though, and for Apple it is the iPad.

While most of Apple’s results went up, the iPad stood out as a business that went down, a declining product in Cupertino’s range. The slate shifted 13.3 million units through the last period, meeting Apple’s expectations but falling by 9.3% compared to the same time the year before. Sure, the iPad is still easily the best-selling tablet on the market, but it is losing sales, although the tablet market on the whole has been in decline this year.

The performance of the iPad raised a few questions. Most important of those, is Apple’s tablet business on the road to ruin like its iPods or can the iPad recover? For CEO Tim Cook, it is not even an issue as he said he fully expects the iPad to return to growth, driven by new products and innovation.

"We couldn't be happier with how we've done with the first four years of the iPad," Cook said. "I'd call what's going on recently a speed bump, and I've seen that in every category."

When Cook says new products he does not typically mean updates of current devices, so while Apple will launch a new iPad Air and a new iPad Mini with Retina Display, we are mildly excited that a whole new slate may land too. That could be the oft rumoured iPad Pro, a device that would make a lot of sense in Apple’s post IBM deal strategy.

There is a slight worry in the iPad’s performance beyond declining sales though. The numbers suggest that less people bought the iPad Air and Mini Retina than bought the iPad 4 and original Mini, 9.3% less in fact. That sums up the tablet market as a whole as people are less willing to upgrade than they are with smartphones. Cook plans to use innovation to get them to change their minds, such as the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the iPad Air 2 when it launched in October.

Will that be enough or is the time finally right for Apple to give its slate a radical overhaul? A new design and some new kicking features would be cool to see, but don’t expect Cupertino to stray too far away from the iPad blueprint it has been using since day 1.

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Luke Jones

Luke is the editor of DailyiPhoneBlog.

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