Apple 2017 year in review: iPad gets cheaper than ever, more expensive than ever with new ...

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Apple's iPad lineup got bigger and more expensive than ever in 2017, with the introduction of new high-end Pro models. But the company also pivoted and introduced a budget-priced 9.7-inch model that marks the most affordable entry price for an iPad ever. The combination helped sales return to long-awaited growth.




Editor's note: This is the latest installment in AppleInsider's 2017 Year in Review series, recapping the biggest trends for Apple that carried throughout the year.

A tale of two markets

When the first iPad launched in 2010, its $499 starting price was seen as much lower than expected. Still, for some, it wasn't low enough.

As consumers found that an iPad could not yet completely replace their laptop, the market clamored for cheaper options, suitable for basic tasks like browsing the web or watching videos.

Apple appeased those buyers with legacy models at lower prices, as well as the 7.9-inch iPad mini.

But it wasn't until 2017 that the low-end iPad really came into its own with a full-size, no-compromises 9.7-inch model, aggressively priced at $329. Featuring a Retina display, Touch ID, and an A9 processor, it was arguably the best dollar-for-dollar value in the company's entire product lineup this year.




On the high end, meanwhile, Apple's iPad Pro lineup got pricier than ever. The smaller iPad Pro model gained a slightly larger 10.5-inch screen with reduced bezels, and both it and the 12.9-inch versions saw their entry-level capacities boosted to 64 gigabytes, deserving of the "pro" moniker.

Now, the cheapest iPad Pro model comes in at $649 for 64 gigabytes -- considerably more than that $499 starting price introduced nearly 8 years ago.

After years of shrinking sales, the iPad returns to growth

A funny thing happened as Apple sent the iPad in two different directions: Sales rebounded.

Facing years of declining sales, the iPad turned it around in 2017. Things got a boost in March with the debut of the $329 model, and then were further bolstered a few months later in June with two new iPad Pros.

Starting with the June quarter, iPad sales grew to 11.42 million units, up from 9.95 million in the same period a year prior. That finally turned around years of iPad sales decline.




It's hard to say definitively why 2017 was the year that things turned around for the iPad. A popular theory is that users hang onto and use their iPads longer than phones, with a 4-to-5-year lifespan more akin to a Mac or PC. Given that the iPad 2, which was a blockbuster success, no longer supports the latest iOS releases, it could have helped to inspire upgrades.

In particular, this year's release of iOS 11 was huge for the iPad, bringing improved multitasking, the new Files app, drag-and-drop support between apps, and a revamped app dock that's more Mac-like than ever.

It's also possible that Apple's new pricing strategy and hardware options made consumers feel like this year was the right time to upgrade.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but the end result is the same: The iPad is on the upswing once again.

Expect more of the same next year

How does Apple keep the momentum of 2017 going into next year? Continue to innovate, of course.

With the introduction of the iPhone X and its Face ID camera, as well as the absence of the home button, it's likely that similar changes are around the corner for the iPad Pro.




Rumors suggest the iPad Pro lineup could get the Face ID treatment in 2018, complete with thinner bezels and the elimination of the home button. Those changes could allow next year's iPads to be lighter and more portable than ever for their respective sizes.

As for the low-end $329 iPad, don't be surprised if the hardware isn't refreshed next year. The budget tablet was outfitted with capable components in 2017, which would allow Apple to take the same approach it did with the iPhone SE, leaving the device largely as-is for a few years.

One direction Apple could go, however, is further price cuts on that model. Already, resellers in the AppleInsider Price Guide offer the 9.7-inch iPad for as low as $300, and some rumors have suggested Apple could get costs down low enough to sell the tablet for about $260 in 2018.

If the high-end iPad Pro gets better and the low-end 9.7-inch iPad gets cheaper next year, then Apple will just be pushing what has already proven to be a winning strategy: A two-pronged attack that's resonating with consumers who have very different tablet computing needs.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    The largest innovation for Apple will be the 12.9” IPad, with reduced bezel (lighter/smaller).

    If they make it $999 with 256GB, LTE, and Face ID Apple has a PC killer on their hands.

    If they add the keyboard + AppleCare+ (3 years) + Pensil

    Financed through Wireless Providers for $35/month for 3 years

    All the cool kids will come equipped with an IPad to college.
    bshankwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 28
    Great synopsis: "A funny thing happened as Apple sent the iPad in two different directions: Sales rebounded."  

    Brilliant move on Apple's part. In simple terms, if you're not doing 'real work,' (and I don't mean that disparagingly), get an iPad. If you're using an iPad for work, get a Pro.

    Maybe the smaller one for travel and the larger one for at home?


    In the latter part of 2018, I could very well see myself, selling my 2017 MacBook and going all in on iOS by purchasing an iPadPro. Sadly, I don't see buying another MacOS devise. End of an era, I suppose. Sad.  :(

    In 2018, the latest iPadPro, the new SE, a new LTE AppleWatch and a 4K ATV. That's about $1,500 all running iOS. About the cost of a nice 27" iMac or a MacBookPro running MacOS. 


    Apple's new AirPower for the new SE, AppleWatch and AirPods will be 2018's product sensation. Just like the AirPods were last year! Two devices that are so Apple!



    P.S. The ability to lay down my SE on my Apple charging pad w/o having to plug it in, is a reason to upgrade. Even more so than FaceID, OLED screens or improved cameras!

    I know this b/c I love just laying my current AppleWatch down. You will, too! :) 

    Best
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 3 of 28
    The largest innovation for Apple will be the 12.9” IPad, with reduced bezel (lighter/smaller).

    If they make it $999 with 256GB, LTE, and Face ID Apple has a PC killer on their hands.

    If they add the keyboard + AppleCare+ (3 years) + Pensil

    Financed through Wireless Providers for $35/month for 3 years

    All the cool kids will come equipped with an IPad to college.
    Very nice! :)
  • Reply 4 of 28
    if ipad goes bezel-less like iphone x in 2018 i’m definitely upgrading. that’s after 4 years with a mini. ipad is really just great and lasts quite long.
    cornchipracerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 28
    I wonder will we have 4K HDR OLED iPad? I don’t care about bezel or FaceID or anything. Just the best iPad to watch 4K movies on bed & anywhere. The good thing about it is it will no doubt be much cheaper than buying great OLED TV so you actually can save some money too. 
    Looks at how great HDR movies look on iPhoneX & it will drool everyone. 
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 6 of 28
    matrix077 said:
    I wonder will we have 4K HDR OLED iPad? I don’t care about bezel or FaceID or anything. Just the best iPad to watch 4K movies on bed & anywhere. The good thing about it is it will no doubt be much cheaper than buying great OLED TV so you actually can save some money too. 
    Looks at how great HDR movies look on iPhoneX & it will drool everyone. 
    The bezel and FaceID inclusion in the next generation is really about reducing size and weight, the current generation is a beast.  It doesn’t sound like OLED for the 12.9 is in the cards due to the difficulty of mass producing them.  Streaming 4K over LTE wont be doable for a few years, so that’s not a priority.  We’ll probably get that in 2020...

    What I really want to see is Apple taking PC market share.  

    I’d also like to see Apple invest some of their cash horde in a wireless provider like T-Mobile, to expedite 5G rollout.  Kicking “Cable” in the private parts should be everyone’s goal.
    stanthemancornchipbaconstangracerhomie3bshank
  • Reply 7 of 28
    bigpicsbigpics Posts: 1,346member
    Great synopsis: "A funny thing happened as Apple sent the iPad in two different directions: Sales rebounded."  

    Brilliant move on Apple's part. In simple terms, if you're not doing 'real work,' (and I don't mean that disparagingly), get an iPad. If you're using an iPad for work, get a Pro.

    Maybe the smaller one for travel and the larger one for at home?


    In the latter part of 2018, I could very well see myself, selling my 2017 MacBook and going all in on iOS by purchasing an iPadPro. Sadly, I don't see buying another MacOS devise. End of an era, I suppose. Sad.  :(

    In 2018, the latest iPadPro, the new SE, a new LTE AppleWatch and a 4K ATV. That's about $1,500 all running iOS. About the cost of a nice 27" iMac or a MacBookPro running MacOS. 
    I wish Apple was executing as well on the Macs as they are on the iPads and phones.  

    I still feel the one port pink book is a joke or fetish item at best in terms of those of us who see Macs as work horses more than show horses, and after 7 or 8 tries still feel like I don't even know how to type anymore when I sit down with an MB Pro.  The rest is great (though it could use a port or two), but worst keyboard EVVVVER.  And I've never had problems moving between machines before in 20+ years of computing.
    seanismorrisbaconstangGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 8 of 28
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,766member
    bigpics said:
    Great synopsis: "A funny thing happened as Apple sent the iPad in two different directions: Sales rebounded."  

    Brilliant move on Apple's part. In simple terms, if you're not doing 'real work,' (and I don't mean that disparagingly), get an iPad. If you're using an iPad for work, get a Pro.

    Maybe the smaller one for travel and the larger one for at home?


    In the latter part of 2018, I could very well see myself, selling my 2017 MacBook and going all in on iOS by purchasing an iPadPro. Sadly, I don't see buying another MacOS devise. End of an era, I suppose. Sad.  :(

    In 2018, the latest iPadPro, the new SE, a new LTE AppleWatch and a 4K ATV. That's about $1,500 all running iOS. About the cost of a nice 27" iMac or a MacBookPro running MacOS. 
    I wish Apple was executing as well on the Macs as they are on the iPads and phones.  

    I still feel the one port pink book is a joke or fetish item at best in terms of those of us who see Macs as work horses more than show horses, and after 7 or 8 tries still feel like I don't even know how to type anymore when I sit down with an MB Pro.  The rest is great (though it could use a port or two), but worst keyboard EVVVVER.  And I've never had problems moving between machines before in 20+ years of computing.
    All those flat keyboards in all machines (no matter the brand) are so bad you may as well type on an Ipad screen...
    BTW, I'm using an original real PS-2 (from a model 80) keyboard on my desktop, those things were build like tanks. It will last till after my death in 50 years probably ;-).

    Many people have not used good keyboards and don't know what they are missing.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 9 of 28
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,766member
    matrix077 said:
    I wonder will we have 4K HDR OLED iPad? I don’t care about bezel or FaceID or anything. Just the best iPad to watch 4K movies on bed & anywhere. The good thing about it is it will no doubt be much cheaper than buying great OLED TV so you actually can save some money too. 
    Looks at how great HDR movies look on iPhoneX & it will drool everyone. 
    You can do HDR on on current Ipad Pros. Their displays are not OLED but they some other advantages.
    Not sure I want something that can be on all day long with and OLED screen on it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 28

    foggyhill said:
    matrix077 said:
    I wonder will we have 4K HDR OLED iPad? I don’t care about bezel or FaceID or anything. Just the best iPad to watch 4K movies on bed & anywhere. The good thing about it is it will no doubt be much cheaper than buying great OLED TV so you actually can save some money too. 
    Looks at how great HDR movies look on iPhoneX & it will drool everyone. 
    Not sure I want something that can be on all day long with and OLED screen on it.
    That’s one thing for concern, (another will be the cost & supply of that screen) but it’s just so good for watching movies it will sell itself. Easily. Just showing it off & people who see will drool about it. 
    As a cinephile, I hope Apple surprise me. Maybe not next year but 2019 or 2020. 
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 11 of 28
    An IPad wouldn't need the notch either I'll bet...nice
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 28
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,766member
    matrix077 said:

    foggyhill said:
    matrix077 said:
    I wonder will we have 4K HDR OLED iPad? I don’t care about bezel or FaceID or anything. Just the best iPad to watch 4K movies on bed & anywhere. The good thing about it is it will no doubt be much cheaper than buying great OLED TV so you actually can save some money too. 
    Looks at how great HDR movies look on iPhoneX & it will drool everyone. 
    Not sure I want something that can be on all day long with and OLED screen on it.
    That’s one thing for concern, (another will be the cost & supply of that screen) but it’s just so good for watching movies it will sell itself. Easily. Just showing it off & people who see will drool about it. 
    As a cinephile, I hope Apple surprise me. Maybe not next year but 2019 or 2020. 
    Dynamic range of OLED screens are not better really than top notch LED which also have a big gamut, just the lower end is lower (black level).
    If a LED screen can go to 2000 nits (for example) and has a nearly non reflective screen, the actual advantage of an OLED screen will be zero (or even negative in a brighter viewing environment).

    The main advantage of OLED was that it takes less power in dark conditions (which happen more often on a phone than an Ipad were people look at big ass white screens all day long) and it also takes less internal space than LED screens do, which is less of concern in the bigger Ipad format.

    Have you tried watching a HDR movie on an Ipad pro.
    edited December 2017 racerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 28
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,766member
    mauijoe said:
    An IPad wouldn't need the notch either I'll bet...nice
    It has more space at the top so it can put a lot more things up there without resorting to a notch; though they could put one if they decide to remove all bezel (which I don't expect them to do).
  • Reply 14 of 28
    Great synopsis: "A funny thing happened as Apple sent the iPad in two different directions: Sales rebounded."  

    Brilliant move on Apple's part. In simple terms, if you're not doing 'real work,' (and I don't mean that disparagingly), get an iPad. If you're using an iPad for work, get a Pro.

    Maybe the smaller one for travel and the larger one for at home?


    In the latter part of 2018, I could very well see myself, selling my 2017 MacBook and going all in on iOS by purchasing an iPadPro. Sadly, I don't see buying another MacOS devise. End of an era, I suppose. Sad.  :(

    In 2018, the latest iPadPro, the new SE, a new LTE AppleWatch and a 4K ATV. That's about $1,500 all running iOS. About the cost of a nice 27" iMac or a MacBookPro running MacOS. 


    Apple's new AirPower for the new SE, AppleWatch and AirPods will be 2018's product sensation. Just like the AirPods were last year! Two devices that are so Apple!



    P.S. The ability to lay down my SE on my Apple charging pad w/o having to plug it in, is a reason to upgrade. Even more so than FaceID, OLED screens or improved cameras!

    I know this b/c I love just laying my current AppleWatch down. You will, too! :) 

    Best
    Don’t do it. Don’t abandon the Mac. I plan to purchase more Macs when I earn more money. Do not give Apple more reasons to abandon the Mac.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 28
    foggyhill said:
    matrix077 said:

    foggyhill said:
    matrix077 said:
    I wonder will we have 4K HDR OLED iPad? I don’t care about bezel or FaceID or anything. Just the best iPad to watch 4K movies on bed & anywhere. The good thing about it is it will no doubt be much cheaper than buying great OLED TV so you actually can save some money too. 
    Looks at how great HDR movies look on iPhoneX & it will drool everyone. 
    Not sure I want something that can be on all day long with and OLED screen on it.
    That’s one thing for concern, (another will be the cost & supply of that screen) but it’s just so good for watching movies it will sell itself. Easily. Just showing it off & people who see will drool about it. 
    As a cinephile, I hope Apple surprise me. Maybe not next year but 2019 or 2020. 
    Dynamic range of OLED screens are not better really than top notch LED which also have a big gamut, just the lower end is lower (black level).
    If a LED screen can go to 2000 nits (for example) and has a nearly non reflective screen, the actual advantage of an OLED screen will be zero (or even negative in a brighter viewing environment).

    The main advantage of OLED was that it takes less power in dark conditions (which happen more often on a phone than an Ipad were people look at big ass white screens all day long) and it also takes less internal space than LED screens do, which is less of concern in the bigger Ipad format.

    Have you tried watching a HDR movie on an Ipad pro.
    I'm sure iPad Pro screen is great, the best for LCD even but we're not talking about great here. We're talking about perfection.
    The best environment to view movie is when the surrounding is as dark as possible. That's when LCD ugliness will show its head. I'm very nit picking about this, I know. This is why I'm saving up for Sony A1E. And I'm willing to pay premium price for this ideal iPad if Apple choose to make one. No question ask, just name the price.

    I guess the X has spoiled me (with super realistic colour calibration, HDR, unreal contrast ratio etc.). What is the saying?.. Once you go black.. right? :smile: 
    edited December 2017 GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 16 of 28
    foggyhill said:
    bigpics said:
    Great synopsis: "A funny thing happened as Apple sent the iPad in two different directions: Sales rebounded."  

    Brilliant move on Apple's part. In simple terms, if you're not doing 'real work,' (and I don't mean that disparagingly), get an iPad. If you're using an iPad for work, get a Pro.

    Maybe the smaller one for travel and the larger one for at home?


    In the latter part of 2018, I could very well see myself, selling my 2017 MacBook and going all in on iOS by purchasing an iPadPro. Sadly, I don't see buying another MacOS devise. End of an era, I suppose. Sad.  :(

    In 2018, the latest iPadPro, the new SE, a new LTE AppleWatch and a 4K ATV. That's about $1,500 all running iOS. About the cost of a nice 27" iMac or a MacBookPro running MacOS. 
    I wish Apple was executing as well on the Macs as they are on the iPads and phones.  

    I still feel the one port pink book is a joke or fetish item at best in terms of those of us who see Macs as work horses more than show horses, and after 7 or 8 tries still feel like I don't even know how to type anymore when I sit down with an MB Pro.  The rest is great (though it could use a port or two), but worst keyboard EVVVVER.  And I've never had problems moving between machines before in 20+ years of computing.
    All those flat keyboards in all machines (no matter the brand) are so bad you may as well type on an Ipad screen...
    BTW, I'm using an original real PS-2 (from a model 80) keyboard on my desktop, those things were build like tanks. It will last till after my death in 50 years probably ;-).

    Many people have not used good keyboards and don't know what they are missing.
    Yes, the IBM keyboards were always the best and still are.  I too use one -- actually two -- on my desktop and on my financial laptop.   A close second are the keyboards on the Lenovo Thinkpads.  Although they took a hit when they went chicklet style, they still have that great feel...

    I think Apple has gone overboard with their thin, light, highly portable laptops and lost some user friendliness with the flat keyboards.  As thin keyboards they are great, but they just can't match a full keyboard for typing.  Plus:  Many/most laptops mostly just sit on a desk and thin, light & portable offers no advantage.

    If they continue to emphasize thin & light I think their user base could benefit from a really nice dock to which they could attach a nice, typable keyboard and high end display -- perhaps one with an eGPU to provide high end graphics.  That would be a nice combination:   power & ease of use when you need it with the ability to be highly portable when you need it.   (The iPad Pro could benefit from the same setup.  Hell, even the iPhone would benefit!)


  • Reply 17 of 28
    Great synopsis: "A funny thing happened as Apple sent the iPad in two different directions: Sales rebounded."  

    Brilliant move on Apple's part. In simple terms, if you're not doing 'real work,' (and I don't mean that disparagingly), get an iPad. If you're using an iPad for work, get a Pro.

    Maybe the smaller one for travel and the larger one for at home?


    In the latter part of 2018, I could very well see myself, selling my 2017 MacBook and going all in on iOS by purchasing an iPadPro. Sadly, I don't see buying another MacOS devise. End of an era, I suppose. Sad.  :(

    In 2018, the latest iPadPro, the new SE, a new LTE AppleWatch and a 4K ATV. That's about $1,500 all running iOS. About the cost of a nice 27" iMac or a MacBookPro running MacOS. 


    Apple's new AirPower for the new SE, AppleWatch and AirPods will be 2018's product sensation. Just like the AirPods were last year! Two devices that are so Apple!



    P.S. The ability to lay down my SE on my Apple charging pad w/o having to plug it in, is a reason to upgrade. Even more so than FaceID, OLED screens or improved cameras!

    I know this b/c I love just laying my current AppleWatch down. You will, too! :) 

    Best
    Don’t do it. Don’t abandon the Mac. I plan to purchase more Macs when I earn more money. Do not give Apple more reasons to abandon the Mac.
    They won't.
    But I see the Mac line moving toward the high end, power user arena while iOS devices move in on the lower and mid-level consumer grade arena currently held by MacBooks and Airs...
  • Reply 18 of 28
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,882member
    Apple has done a really great job improving the iPad lineup. I bought the new 12.9” Pro this past summer and LOVE it. Meanwhile, I have a friend who bought her first iPad ever — the inexpensive (but still really awesome) 5th gen. 

    It has taken longer than I thought it would, but I think Tim and crew have realized that they have reached a size as a company that, in order to grow, they need a broader product lineup. 

    Back when SJ simplified the product lineup in the 90s to the 2x2 grid, he was doing exactly the right thing for Apple at that time. There were two reasons it was the right thing. First, Apple was too small to support so many products. Second, much of the variation in products was not substantive variation — it was marketing/cosmetic variation. There were Performa models that were almost indistinguishable from one another and from other market segments. It was just ridiculous. 

    What we see today is totally different. Now apple is large enough to support more models AND the variation that Apple is introducing is *substantive* variation, not marketing or cosmetic. The different models of iPads, Macs, and iPhones are all substantively different from one another, at different price points, reaching different market segments. 

    Yes, it’s more complicated. But it’s not needless complexity — this complexity serves a purpose. 

    I think Apple is maybe growing up as a company, in a good way. 
    GeorgeBMacStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 28
    bigpics said:
    Great synopsis: "A funny thing happened as Apple sent the iPad in two different directions: Sales rebounded."  

    Brilliant move on Apple's part. In simple terms, if you're not doing 'real work,' (and I don't mean that disparagingly), get an iPad. If you're using an iPad for work, get a Pro.

    Maybe the smaller one for travel and the larger one for at home?


    In the latter part of 2018, I could very well see myself, selling my 2017 MacBook and going all in on iOS by purchasing an iPadPro. Sadly, I don't see buying another MacOS devise. End of an era, I suppose. Sad.  :(

    In 2018, the latest iPadPro, the new SE, a new LTE AppleWatch and a 4K ATV. That's about $1,500 all running iOS. About the cost of a nice 27" iMac or a MacBookPro running MacOS. 
    I wish Apple was executing as well on the Macs as they are on the iPads and phones.  

    I still feel the one port pink book is a joke or fetish item at best in terms of those of us who see Macs as work horses more than show horses, and after 7 or 8 tries still feel like I don't even know how to type anymore when I sit down with an MB Pro.  The rest is great (though it could use a port or two), but worst keyboard EVVVVER.  And I've never had problems moving between machines before in 20+ years of computing.
    I hear you biopics. For about the same price as my 2017 Rose Gold MacBook, I could've bought the MacBook Pro with a better and larger screen, faster processor, more storage and 'better' keyboard. But I liked the MacBook b/c it was a pound lighter. And the latest MacOS features in a mobile laptop. (Didn't want the rather dated 11" Air.)

    I don't miss all the ports, but I do wonder if it would have had less critics if they had put another USB-C port on the other side.

    As far as the keyboard, I remember when Apple moved from the iMac 'Atrium' style keyboard to the chicklets design...took me about a week to get used to it. I think they did it b/c many people had the chicklets on their laptops and also had iMacs at work and at home. So it was an easy transition going from your laptop to the iMac on a daily basis. Not so much a factor anymore. Personally I don't mind the MacBook keyboard. 

    Anyway. Best and Happy New Year! :)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 28
    Please! Please! Keep the IPad mini. It is the best device out there for mobile travel. Awesome reader, internet browser, offfice tool, picture library, and more. Bigger than iphone platform. Smaller than a notebook. It’s a tool! Come on Apple. Please keep it. Thank You!
    unbeliever2bshankGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
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