We are at the point of Diminishing Returns

Discussion in 'iPad' started by macguy360, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. macguy360 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2011
    We are at an interesting time for being iPad owners. Ever since iPads were invented, every new generation brought noticeable improved performance. This has always been one of the key selling points of buying a newer model iPad. We have even seen the IOS updates that have improved graphically resulting in older iPads becoming out of date performance wise.

    Additionally, every new version of iPad has brought about a thinner, lighter device that lasts as long as previous generations in terms of battery.

    This has all changed since the iPad Air 2. We are no longer seeing performance as a reason to upgrade as the difference in performance is negligible. There aren't apps that you have to have the newest iPad to run smoothly on. The weight difference and thinness are no longer a selling point from previous versions. 120hz screen vs 60hz screen is a slight improvement, but for most people doesn't warrant the cost of upgrade.

    Unless we start seeing software that really pushes the iPad to its limits or an overhaul of IOS that pushes the hardware, we may be at a point where the lifespan of the devices will be significantly longer than it previously was.

    Confirming this is the decrease in iPad sales as the markets have become saturated and the need to upgrade is no longer there.

    This is only a good thing for the consumer. I for one have owned every iteration of iPad since the original, but have finally stopped at the original iPad Pro 12.9" and have no desire to upgrade to the second generation iPad Pro. The only thing at this point that could get me to upgrade would be a change over to an OLED screen, but really the contrast of iPads is so good now that OLED is not a significant upgrade.

    What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Reply in the comments.
  2. sonicrobby macrumors 68020


    Apr 24, 2013
    New Orleans
    I agree entirely, iPads havent brought anything that has been worthy of an upgrade to me. The Air2 was the last 10" iPad I had. Once the mini 4 came out, I upgraded to it and got rid of my Air2. Since then, the only major addition to the iPads that I can tell are the smart dock, pencil, 120Hz screen, but none of that is anything I was looking for. Honestly Ive been less likely to upgrade solely because of the design of the camera sticking out more. I use my ipad caseless, and often while it is flat on a table beneath me; I dont want the wobble from the camera, or the pressure placed on it. Just make it flush and use the extra few millimeters to add more battery.

    Since the mini will likely not see an upgrade, that in itself is a good decisive factor why I wont be upgrading. I feel like iOS 11 may be my max OS for that one, as I really dont want to deal with any sluggishness. I also got my the 12" iPP on a whim as someone was selling it for half of the original sale price. I doubt I will be upgrading this one for any reason as it is solely media consumption for me.
  3. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Jan 24, 2013
    Then they'll do facial recognition and get rid of Touch-ID, and it will be faster and more secure and everyone will want it. Then they'll add e-ink smart accessories that aren't compatible with your iPad. Then they'll slightly change the shape of them, so if you want any more accessories for your iPad, you're out of luck.

    It will happen.
  4. spiderman0616 macrumors 68040


    Aug 1, 2010
    I agree......somewhat. It happened with the Mac long ago, and that eventually evolved into a steady quarterly seller and profit generator rather than an explosive growth item. It still maintains steady numbers to this day and is still a very important part of the lineup.

    The iPad is not at that point yet. It's too early to say if last quarter's growth in iPad sales becomes a trend or not, but clearly people want to upgrade, and the newest models and iOS 11 announcement have whetted peoples' appetites for new iPads. The upgrades just aren't going to happen as often with iPads as they are with iPhones though, and that's just fine. It's not the same kind of device.

    Even if iPads really start to eat into the Mac's territory and shave a couple of million units off of its sales every quarter--that still doesn't make the iPad an iPhone caliber seller. Again, it's just not that kind of device, and that's totally ok. I truly believe that over time, more and more people are going to go for the iPad rather than the Mac, and the iPad becomes the more popular "big screen device". (Arguably, it already is the more popular big screen device.) The Mac will remain an important device for a niche of power users and the iPad or iPad Pro will be for everyone else.

    None of this is a bad thing. For me, the 10.5" Pro added enough benefits over that 9.7" Pro that I couldn't help but to upgrade. For someone else, none of those things are a big deal. But Apple is going to continue to iterate and improve the iPad, and it's going to become a more and more important device to more and more people over time.
  5. JohnnyGo macrumors 6502a

    Sep 9, 2009
    Indeed I have to agree with the OP that the iPad, similarly to the iPhone, is at a point of diminishing returns.

    It ain’t however even close to what laptops experience over the last 5 years. In large part because of the different push from Apple vs Intel in terms of SOCs / CPUs.

    With the advent of better manufacturing nodes plus overall better design, including the embedded GPU, Apple SOCs are still advancing leaps and bounds even if the overall features of the smartphone/tablets haven’t changed.

    Newer screen tech will impact real use as well as battery life.

    So there are still significant additional “returns” even if the rate of change has subsided.
  6. MaloCS macrumors regular

    Aug 11, 2011
    If Apple wants me to upgrade they need to give the iPad Pro's a minimum of 8GB of RAM. Minimum!
  7. sracer macrumors G3


    Apr 9, 2010
    I generally agree with the OP. I've given up on Apple pushing the iPad significantly further than where it current is (at least in this decade). My experiment with a convertible chromebook (Acer R11) is having me consider (no final decision yet) something like a Samsung Chromebook Plus as my mobile computing device instead of my 12.9 iPad Pro.

    My testing so far, shows that it is closer to what I've been looking for than either the iPad Pro or Microsoft Surface. But the jury is still out.
  8. s2mikey macrumors 68020


    Sep 23, 2013
    Upstate, NY
    Probably are getting close. I stil have my Air1 and although Im contemplating an upgrade its hard to justofy spending the money for my own use cases. I can feel that my Air1 is getting a little slower here and there but does still get the job done. I bought it new in the Fall of 2013 so technically its ancient as far as devices go but even then I dont feel that compelled to do anything. The 10.5" Pro is awesome but it'd cost me over $900 bucks to buy it with LTE. Ouch. Thats MacBook territory now or a very nice windows laptop!

    IMO, its the price of getting a new ipad that does harm them to some extent. $650 and up. Ouch.
  9. Codeseven macrumors 6502a

    Dec 31, 2008

    Yup, almost same exact scenario for me. My 16Gb ( :( ) Air 1 is doing what I ask of it (which isn't that demanding) though it is slow at times. I see others using Pro's and I'm jealous of how snappy the work flow is and how beautiful the screen looks. For years the Air had only been an experiment until I replaced my old 2008 MBP. But thanks to Apple's long MBP refresh delay, I came to realize an iPad is all I really need.

    I don't 'need' to replace my old 9.7" 16Gb Air with a Pro but the gain in CPU power, graphics, larger, nicer screen and a much larger capacity HD along with iOS 11, makes it very, very tempting.
  10. kasakka macrumors 68020

    Oct 25, 2008
    I agree with OP. At the moment the biggest issues are in software rather than hardware. Both my phone and tablet are fast enough to not care about their hardware in everyday use. I recently bought a 12.9 iPad Pro and the things that made me buy it as an Air 2 owner were the larger screen, 120 Hz display and Pencil support. Didn’t care about the CPU or GPU speeds etc much as my Air 2 still runs fine.

    So for me more important factors are displays and form factor now. I’m still waiting for a convergence of phones and tablets where foldable OLEDs can turn phone size devices into small tablets when needed.
  11. Smeaton1724 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 14, 2011
    Leeds, UK
    Agreed. When the latest iPad Pro has a multi core geekbench score of 9000 you know it's a product you won't have to upgrade for many years. Even the previous gen/normal one benches around 4500/5000 multi core. I choose my iOS devices not based on speed but on device size and storage, the cpu speed is just a given now. Apples A series of processors has been nothing short of a revelation since the Air 2.

    The iPad Pro 9.7 is my portable laptop replacement, it is perfect with the keyboard and pencil - I have a windows based workstation for work purposes. My iPad Mini 4 is my books and iPod and mess around device. I keep trying to fit a 12.9 in my collection but the combination of the 2 iPads, MacBook Pro 13 and an iPhone 7 Plus just won't allow it!
  12. ejin222 macrumors regular

    Oct 12, 2011
    I have a 13" MacBook Pro, iPhone 7 Plus, Mini 2 and now a 2017 iPad Pro 12.9. Each has their specific uses and I think I've found the perfect devices for every scenario I'm in

    It's gonna take a lot for me to consider upgrading at this point for any device.
  13. richinaus macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2014
    This is how I feel. They all have their uses and are at a good point now - I have an 2017 iMac, 2016 13" MBP, 10.5 iPad Pro, iPhone 7 plus and they all get used a lot. I am leaning towards changing it up though to a 15" MBP and a MacBook to have the perfect lineup !

    However iOS 11 looks amazing to me and will certainly impact on the laptops in some way, but I use significant pro apps like Fusion, Rhino and auto cad which there is nothing that really can compete yet on the iPad [a 27" screen is very useful for these apps.......]. Always a space though for different things.

    here is how I use the hardware.

    Imac - big apps, heavy use
    MacBooks - big apps, light use - portability
    Ipad - sketching, markups and image research
    phone - mainly as a phone but for consuming

    As quoted, I love this set up also and don't really need that much more except a more powerful desktop [Mac Pro where are you] and perhaps replace the 13" with a 15", but this isn't urgent. Note these are all used for my business so the $$ is not the issue, more what works best in each situation. I found out the hard way I can't survive on one laptop for example [speed was the issue there].
  14. imaccooper macrumors 6502


    May 29, 2014
    North Carolina
    Pretty much the same reply I was going to make. Over the past 6 months specifically, I've started to notice slow downs here and there. It's not bad enough that I really need to upgrade, but that pro sure looks tempting much more often than it did 6 months ago. If the new pro was $400-$500 then I'd probably jump on it sooner, but the price has gotten too high for me to be on a 2-3 year refresh cycle. I'm more on the 4-5 year cycle like I have been with my MacBook. That puts me back to next summer...at least that's what I told my wife.
  15. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    I can't fathom the diminishing-returns statement. I find my new iPad Pro to be leagues faster than the last-gen iPad Pro I had. Also, my wife still uses the iPad Air 2, and the 2nd gen iPad Pro absolutely blows it away in general use speed. It's not even close.

    Also, 120hz vs 60hz is a game-changer. It's a huge difference. The wife is super envious.

    So I suppose I don't accept your premise, good sir!
  16. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

    Feb 14, 2003
    SF Bay area
    I'll disagree. I jumped on the iPad Pro 12.9 because of the large screen and the much higher performance. I found it annoying to read PDFs on the previous iPad because of the lag. I'm skipping the one from this spring but will get the next update, probably next spring. I appreciate the overall crispness. I'm writing software now to simulate the interactions of electrons with solids (Monte Carlo modeling) which is computationally intensive. This will benefit from a faster processor.
  17. acorntoy, Sep 11, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017

    acorntoy macrumors 65816

    May 25, 2010
    Weight actually was a small factor for me. The iPad Pro 12.9 was always heavy, although apples claimed weight of 1.5 pounds for the device hasn't changed, the weight has. The 2'nd gen 12.9 weighs 1.49 pounds, where the first gen weighed 1.57 pounds. It's very slight, but it does make the device more comfortable to hold and to use for extended periods of time. The new 12.9 is also much much more power efficient, with the old 12.9 I had to basically max the screen brightness, and doing so caused the device to only be able to be charged with the 29w charger, with my new 12.9 to get the same brightness the brightness doesn't have to be maxed, and I have found that amazingly with the new device I can charge it with the Apple 5w charger while watching videos (although really slowly). I wasn't really impressed with the processor until I realized it wasn't only noticeably faster, but it's also incredibly efficient. With the first gen 12.9 I got around 3-4 hours of battery life on average, with the new 12.9 I'm getting 10-11.
  18. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

    Oct 25, 2013
    For most though, I expect the 2017 iPad 9.7 is a very nice tablet for the price point.
  19. BenTrovato macrumors 68030


    Jun 29, 2012
    Agree except that iOS 11.1 should brick the iPad Air 2. So while diminishing returns in your context applies, the device will slow down too much in comparison to the latest ones.
  20. JohnnyGo macrumors 6502a

    Sep 9, 2009
    Agree. It’s the perfect upgrade for most iPad Air owners that have limited use and/or no need for multitasking.

    The iPad Air was unfortunately hampered by the A7 soc, the only ipad since iPad 3 not to have an X soc version (with more GPU oomph)
  21. burgman macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2013
    I only agree with all of the above if one crosses out Apple,IPad,iPhone,IMac and make the same claim for the entire phone,tablet,computer industry. It's the nature of a mature business, just this industry grew up much faster because everything was new and advances kept up the speed. Mobile Tech has become the new appliance sector.
  22. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

    Oct 25, 2013
    Alas, I don't think technology back then would have allowed an X version with beefed up GPU while maintaining a 10-hour battery life and thermals given the size and battery capacity reduction. Wasn't throttling an issue with A7?
    --- Post Merged, Sep 11, 2017 ---
    Apart from the iPad and Chinese off-brand tablets, is there even a tablet industry left? :p
  23. jamesrick80 macrumors 68020


    Sep 12, 2014
    It's sad to see that the iPad gets put in this small bubble. Come tomorrow even the new iPad pro 10.5 will be seen as obsolete while fans have their pseudo-amazement with the new iPhone X while Apple still fails to add trackpad support and a real file manager (not enhancement of iCloud renamed) to the iPad pro.

    Reason why I did switch to a Samsung Chromebook Plus over continuing to try to enjoy the iPad Pro.
  24. sparksd macrumors 68020

    Jun 7, 2015
    Seattle WA
    I tend to agree with the OP. To the general consumer market, I find it difficult to see that the changes we see are worth the significant cost of a new tablet. I know that's not true for many of us here, but for the average consumer the cost of a new iPad is significant and may outweigh the additional utility. I'm a big tech nerd - a retired s/w systems engineer - but I can't justify updating from my Air 2 even though I would like to. Just too pricey for the return on investment.
  25. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    iPads increased in sales last quarter.

    I think the argument of diminishing returns was made way back during the iPad Air, all apple does it seemed was to roll out thinner iPads.

    The iPad Pro however bucked that trend and we saw some nice features. If the tablet fairly mature so we'll see less major updates - yes. Is the iPad doomed? No, and I think for the first time in a long time, I'm very happy with the direction Apple is taking the iPad.

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