Apple's new iPad fails to solve the fundamental problem facing the device

Apple CEO Tim Cook ipad pro 9.7 2016Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesApple CEO Tim Cook uses an iPad Pro.

Apple has got an iPad problem.

Sales of the tablet devices are shrinking, dropping 19% year-on-year in January 2017. The device generated $US5.5 billion (£4.4 billion) in revenue for that quarter — a drop in the ocean of the company’s overall quarterly revenues of $US78.4 billion (£62.8 billion).

In short: No-one is buying them.

On Tuesday, Apple announced a new budget 9.7-inch iPad, going for $US329 in the US and £339 in the UK. But it may do little to reverse the decline, according to Apple analyst-turned-venture capital investor Gene Munster.

“I think it’s a non-starter,” Munster told Business Insider. “I think no-one is that interested in the iPad. And I think that yeah, they can update them, but it doesn’t really matter.”

He continued: “I think even at a lower price point, it still doesn’t change the fundamental problem that the iPad has, which is that people are using bigger phones, and going back to actual computers. So it becomes this tweener type of product.”

AppleThe new 9.7-inch iPad.

In other words, the iPad doesn’t have a particularly compelling reason to exist. It was unveiled back in 2010, when the then-current iPhone 3GS had a tiny 3.5-inch low-resolution screen. Fast-forward seven years and modern phones have screens of five or more inches, and powerful chips easily capable of playing HD video and sophisticated games.

Between smartphones and today’s lighter-than-ever laptops, most people will struggle to justify buying a tablet as well. And until Apple manages to come up with a new, genuinely unique use-case for the device, that’s unlikely to change any time soon.

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