What it is: The MacBook is the thinnest, lightest Macintosh laptop around while the iPad is the most popular tablet on the market.
There’s an odd trend occurring these days. Macintosh sales are slowly creeping up while iPad sales are steadily dropping. These two trends likely aren’t a coincidence. Most people can use a tablet for years so unlike the iPhone, there’s little reason to upgrade to a new model every two years.
Perhaps a more compelling factor behind the iPad’s slow sales decline is the power and lightness of the latest MacBook laptop (2.03 pounds or 0.92 kilograms) compared to the iPad Air 2 (0.96 pounds or 437 grams). Although the iPad Air 2 is much lighter, it’s also less flexible. A MacBook lets you run Windows and Linux in a virtual machine along with all OS X programs. The iPad Air 2 can only run iOS apps, which are less powerful.
Given a choice between a MacBook and an iPad Air 2, many people seem to be flocking back to the heavier but more capable MacBook. The iPad air 2 might be a great companion for an existing computer, but if you need to upgrade your computer, you probably aren’t going to rely on an iPad Air 2 alone. That means computer upgraders will likely choose the MacBook, and if someone already has an older iPad model, there’s little reason to upgrade so soon.
The result is that iPad sales will likely continue dropping while Macintosh sales continue climbing. Given a choice between the two, the MacBook is now so thin and light that it’s a better option than an iPad Air 2, especially if you have an iPhone too. Why carry three items (a laptop, tablet, and smartphone) when you can just use your iPhone as a smartphone and tablet, and your MacBook as your laptop?
At one time, iPads were seen as killing sales of the Macintosh. Now it appears that the MacBook is starting to hurt sales of the iPad.
If you need a real computer, you’re better off with a MacBook. If you just need a complement to your computer, than you’re better off with an iPad. Sales of the iPad aren’t dropping because people don’t need tablets any more. They’re dropping because more people prefer a real computer that’s light and thin just like an iPad.
When you consider that the original iPad weighed 1.5 pounds and today’s MacBook only weighs 2.03 pounds, the weight difference is no longer as vast as it once was between the iPad and laptop computers. As groundbreaking as the iPad was in its introduction, it’s now being overshadowed by the iPhone on the light and portable spectrum and the MacBook on the heavier but more capable spectrum. Squeezed on both sides, the iPad will likely never be as popular as it once was because the iPhone and MacBook are far more attractive.
The iPad isn’t going away. Apple is rumored to be developing a larger iPad Pro, but until that arrives, the current iPad will likely never be a major factor in Apple’s profit margins again. The future belongs to the iPhone and MacBook along with the Apple Watch. The iPad’s best days are behind it like the iPod.