There was a detailed article about all this on ZDNet by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes about iPad sales slipping. You can read the whole thing here, but the point was that there doesn't seem to be much that Apple can do about this slide for the next two years at the very earliest. That's because older iPads dating back to the iPad 2 all run on the current iOS 9 -- and will be supported, as well, on the upcoming iOS 10. And so, other than losing out on a few features in the software, as well as hardware, users tend to be happy with what they have. Only when the older devices stop being supported -- perhaps in a couple years -- might consumers decide to upgrade. Or not.
To a slight degree, this is a similar issue when Microsoft finally phased out full support of Windows 7, though it still provides "extended support" for security updates. It's a reality with computers -- people tend to be happy and comfortable with the familar they know.
On the other hand, upgrades of the Smartphones, and notably the iPhone, have not slowed down. Just the iPad.
Oddly, Mr. Hughes, a good tech writer, did have one lapse in his article. The very last paragraph deals with why iPhone sales haven’t plummeted, but iPads have. He ends the piece by writing – “Bottom line it seems the difference is down to there being a different upgrade cycle for smartphones than for tablets. People upgrade their smartphones every two to three years, but hold onto their tablets for longer.” What he’s saying here is “The reasons iPhones and iPad sales are different is because people buy them differently.”
Well…yeah. That’s a given. The question, though, is why do people upgrade their smartphones more often? I do think there are valid reasons for the different buying cycles, he just didn’t give any. I suspect, for example, it’s largely related to how new iPhones seem to be adding features that the public finds actually useful, and also they’ve changed sizes (either getting thinner and lighter, or bigger) in ways that the public wants and will upgrade to. And since phones are more of a necessity than a tablet, which is more a luxury item, those notable changes become even more meaningful.
The reader comments to the article are very interesting, as well. Usually, on tech articles that discuss a problem, users of that operating system (more often Apple or Microsoft, rather than Android) come leaping to the defense and slam the article. But that's not the case here. Most agree, and point out reasons that might explain the drop. One example are those saying that people tend to find they're only using their iPads and tablets for browsing the Internet, maybe checking email, and watching videos, so there's no great need to have the Latest and Greatest. Basic does fine. Also, as mobile phones increase in size with bigger screens, the basic need for simply using a tablet has lessened. So, there's not only not as great a need to upgrade, there's also not as great a need to even have a tablet in the first place. And a number of readers commented on the cost of iPads, which made upgrading all the less critical, especially with the other issues involved. Related to all this is what I wrote above, that a Smartphone is becoming more of a necessity, so having "the latest" is more important, compared to a tablet that's largely a luxury item. And so, you have a drop in iPad sales, but an increase in iPhones.
Also, in Mr. Hughes' article he links to an earlier news story he wrote about falling iPad sales. He writes, “But I'll tell you who should be worried - pretty much everyone else trying to sell a tablet.” While there is some truth to that – a lot, even – I have a slight quibble with that, as well, in that he’s ignoring an important point that has always been why I’ve liked Windows tablets far more than Apple and Android.
Apple and Android tablets have always basically been considered entertainment devices -- for email, browsing, and videos. Windows tablets have always been more focused on productivity. Productivity has improved a lot with Apple and Android tablets, but I suspect most people still use them mainly for those entertainment purposes. (Microsoft, after all, has long had a strong corporate base in its usership.) You'll note that Microsoft sells its popular Surface tablet as "The tablet that can replace your laptop." And 2-in-1 "convertibles -- which are like laptops but can release the screen to make it a standalone tablet -- are a more pronounced format for Windows devices.
I do think all tablet sellers should be wary about the drop in tablet sales, but with the advent of Windows 10, which works the same on all form factors -- desktop, tablets, Xbox, and upcoming Smartphones -- I’d be more concerned if I sold Apple and Android tablets. Windows tablets do have their own issues (the lack of apps, for prominent, though that's what Microsoft is hoping to address with Windows 10 and "Continuum" which allows apps to work across the platform of all devices.) However, they seem like they have the potential to be a growing market. (Acer 2-in-1's, for instance, are up 80% over last year.) They may not grow, the entire industry is in flux at the moment, but I think they have that potential.