IHS, ABI Research offer predictions for 2015 iPad Pro sales

Can the iPad Pro, which goes on sale in November, turn Apple's tablet sales around or even reverse the downward course of global tablet sales in general? The iPad's market share has consistently decreased by about 18 percent over the last few years even as the market as a whole shrank by 7 percent.

"The current IHS forecast calls for 2.8 million iPad Pros to be sold in 2015," Rhoda Alexander, director of Tablet and Notebook Research at the research group, told Apple World Today. "Note that this figure factors in projected production limits. We expect initial demand for the product will be much higher, perhaps as high as five million units so expect Apple to enter 2016 with healthy backorders for the product."

New market intelligence data from ABI Research predicts the installed base of tablets will decrease for the first time in 2016 as growth from first-time buyers shifts to replacement purchases.

"The global installed base of branded tablets will peak around 373 million units at the close of 2015," says ABI Research Director Jeff Orr. "Led by North America at 48% of the installed base, the operating system mix is expected to be more balanced with 50% powered by Android, while 42% will use iOS."

He doesn't foresee Apple selling more than 500,000 iPad Pro units this year based on the limited time of availability (most likely the end of November) and the fact that the bigger tablet will appear more to business customers than consumers. Orr told Apple World Today that the procurement procedures of businesses probably mean 6-9 months before big orders for iPad Pros are placed.

The research group says that, with a slowdown in first-time tablet purchases, there are several reasons for change in the tablet installed base figures:

  • Replacing tablets with tablets: The experiences with first-generation tablets greatly influence what audiences will purchase the second time around. Unique apps and content, usability, and durability all play a role in the decision-making process.
  • Replacing tablets with "phablets" with 5.5 to 6.99 inch screens: A converged solution that marries the best of the smartphone (mobility and cellular voice service) with the larger display of a tablet. Phablets such as the iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus are an increasing percentage of smartphone shipments and are a mobile alternative to replacing a tablet.
  • Replacing tablets with 2-in-1 ultraportable PCs: For small business owners looking to maintain the productivity of a PC with the mobility of a tablet, choices for 2-in-1 systems are increasing and now available with Windows 10 OS.
  • No replacement purchase: Not all tablets will be replaced. Some get handed down or resold while others stop working or go unused in favor of performing activities on some other device.