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Apple
PADDING OUT

The iPad is back

By Mike Murphy

After a few years in the wilderness, it seems that the iPad is back.

Apple announced its second-quarter earnings today, and while most of the focus was on the continued success of the company’s services business, and the ever-profitable iPhone, the iPad posted a surprisingly positive quarter. The device generated $4.87 billion between January and April, a jump of more than 20% over the same quarter last year.

In November, the latest generation of the iPad Pro went on sale and was well-received. In March, the company released updates to its lower-cost iPad Air and Mini tablets. With all these new models, consumers are flocking to a device that Apple itself has struggled to differentiate from its MacBook laptops and increasingly giant phones. (Although, unlike Apple’s laptops, the iPads haven’t had any issues with keyboards not working.)

On the company’s earnings call, Apple’s chief financial officer Luca Maestri gave a hint at the renewed vision for the iPad. He mentioned that the new iPad Pro has a high customer-satisfaction rating, calling it “the perfect PC-laptop replacement.”

There’s no way to accurately gauge which iPad models drove the increase in sales this quarter—Apple no longer reports unit shipments of all its products. But considering the iPad Pro has been on sale for longer, and the spike has been so pronounced, it seems likely that it was largely driven by the costlier iPad Pro. The device starts at $799, though adding in the keyboard case and the Apple stylus brings the base price up to $1,107 before local taxes.

Beyond the Pro segment, Maestri mentioned that regular iPads are becoming the tablet of choice for large companies, used by everyone from airline pilots to retail staff. We’ll have to see whether this trend continues into the next two quarters, when students traditionally head back to school and pick up new computers. Perhaps Apple’s annoying commercial from last year—in which an iPad-wielding child asks “What’s a computer?”—could soon ring true.