That is, of course, Apple's trump card: The future. "The thing that drives us more than any of this," Cook said, "is the next iPad, the things that are in the pipeline, [the things] that we can do to make the product even better." Don't like what you're seeing right now? Don't worry: There's always greater stuff coming down the pike.
When it comes down to it, I have to admit that I'm with Cook on this one. A one quarter downtick does not a downtrend make. The longer-term trends still seem to favor the tablet — and Apple still has the tablet that defines the category.
Tablet adoption is still on the upswing; this is not a saturated market by any means. Two-thirds of the people registering an iPad in the past six months, Cook said, were new to iPad; compare that to the iPhone, where only half — only half! — of the new registrants were new.
And we're still in the middle of a significant long-term shift from PC to tablet. The Mac is still selling steadily, but the iPad passed it a long time ago. "We continue to believe that the tablet market will surpass the [overall] PC market in size within the next few years," Cook said, "and we believe that Apple will be a major beneficiary of this trend."
You can't really blame the analysts for their focus on the iPad: The fall in tablet sales was immediately apparent to anyone who looked at Apple's SEC filing. But despite that one short-term result, despite that one quarter's numbers, the iPad's essential selling point has not changed: It still does a lot of what people need a "computer" to do, without the cost or bulk of an actual Mac, and it still does more than an iPhone can. As long as those things hold true, I think the iPad's numbers will take care of themselves.
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