iPhone, Services, Mac and Watch set revenue records. What flagship Apple product line continues to flounder? iPad. Specifically, Apple announced sales of 13 million iPads for Q4 2016, down from 16 million in the same period a year ago. It’s the only black mark on the books again.
Tim Cook said on the earnings call that they are in the early innings of smartphones and there is much work to do. If that’s the case, Apple has a ton of work to do for the tablet space. The rumoured trifecta of new iPad hardware is a good baseline to incentivise some sales but the software is the limiting factor. iPad components are beefy whereas the OS and app ecosystem is immature and neglected.
There are so many places iOS needs to improve to be a productivity machine. Everyone seems to be obsessed with the idea that iOS needs an overlapping windowing model like the Mac, and that split view doesn’t suffice. That might be the case, I don’t think it is a certainty. That discussion is almost a distraction though — there is so much other stuff that could be made better about the iPad software stack.
So many basic computing tasks are convoluted and messy on the iPad we know today. Tasks like tweeting an image embedded into a webpage in Safari, playing background music without getting interrupted, collating a handful of attachments from different recipients and sending them off in a new mail message, and so many other things that people want to do every day. Heck, it’s still not possible to look at two emails side-by-side.
I love my iPad Pro as an entertainment device but I hit walls constantly when I want to use it for more than that. I want Apple to push it so much further and I believe there is plenty of runway before we have to discuss if, and to what degree, iOS should envelop desktop metaphors.