D.M. Martins Research: iPads are the new iPods

The iPad is the new iPod – but with an even shorter life span, according to D.M. Martins Research. In fact, the tablet (and tablets in general) is a fast-declining product category that “most Apple analysts and investors don't even seem to care too much about anymore,” adds the firm.

D.M. Martins Research says the iPad is a product in the late stages of its lifecycle and an increasingly unimportant revenue generator for Apple. The tablet, like the iPod before it, experienced a “clear and sharp” decline in sales as a percentage of total revenues six years after their introduction.

Here’s Martins’ take: “… the iPad was a revolutionary product category that, unlike the more widely used iPhone, addressed a much narrower market need. Being a hybrid device, the iPad complemented well the smartphone as a secondary mobile platform, but has been adopted and sold much more like a personal computer.

“Whereas the iPhone has become a product of daily (if not hourly) use by most AAPL customers, the iPad served largely as a mobile device for sporadic use. By design, the iPad was never meant to be carried in a pocket and accessed on demand, anywhere, anytime. And with the advent of 4.7-inch display smartphones, the iPad, cannibalized by AAPL's own flagship product, has lost some of the appeal that it had when iPhones came in small, 3.5-inch screens.

The iPad is now more of a very-nice-to-have device that most customers and potential buyers do not feel the need to replace on a regular basis. The tablet market, as a result, seems to have rapidly reached saturation, and I do not see this trend reversing at all.”

However, the research group doesn’t think this will adversely affected Apple in the long run. It says the company's near- to medium-term future prospects are much more dependent on the continued success of the iPhone at first and, eventually, on alternative sources of revenues — like services and software.