The new iPad is coming at a time when Apple's tablet business is shrinking

Apple launched a new 9.7-inch iPad on Tuesday, the latest entry in its long-running line of tablets. The big news is that it’s affordable: Starting at $US329, the new iPad — and it’s just called “iPad” — is among the most inexpensive tablets Apple has ever released.

Given that Apple plans to sell the iPad direct to educators for just $US299, it also looks to be a counter to Google’s Chromebooks — those low-cost laptops that have swallowed Apple’s market share in U.S. schools, and are now making a renewed push for everyday consumers.

That’s just one part of a larger decline, though. As this chart from Statista shows, the iPad has become an increasingly small part of Apple’s business. After a big boom early in the decade, the tablet market matured, big-screen smartphones and convertible laptops started to duplicate much of the tablet’s original promise, and many iPad owners realised that what they have doesn’t warrant or require regular upgrades.

The result: The iPad falling behind Apple’s Mac and Services segments in terms of total revenue. To be clear, this is still a huge business for Apple that has transformed the PC market, and the new slate seems likely to get many older iPad holdouts to upgrade. But the slowdown helps explain why Apple would launch its latest model through a press release, not a big event.

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