What must Apple do to stop the iPad from dying?

Most of the posturing on Tuesday’s Apple Q1 earnings call pointed towards those impressive 74.5 million iPhones it shipped and the imminent release of the Apple Watch being confirmed by CEO Tim Cook.

Hidden deep inside those results (and you had to look quite hard) was the news that it shipped just 21.4 million iPads in Q1 2015, which was down 18 per cent on a year ago leading to the chat around where the iPad goes next…

Bigger screens

Rumours about an iPad Pro complete with a much larger screen have been swirling around for some time and using this to give the slates a bump in sales remains a possibility for Cook and the designers working on it. The only problem doing this is the chance of it cutting into the impressive sales of its Mac computers, especially the MacBook Air, due to the cannibalisation that would almost definitely occur. if anything there’s likely to be a point when OS X on the MacBook Air melds together completely with iOS and we get a touchscreen version of the popular slim-line laptops.

Enterprise

Apple is incredibly excited about the enterprise capabilities of the iPad and it even boasted on Tuesday that pretty much every single Fortune 500 company is using the slate for work matters. Thanks to its partnership with IBM, which will see apps built for specific cases, the iPad will have over 100 business apps available by the time 2015 is out and Cook is confident that bringing this mobility into the enterprise will result in a sea change to how people perform in their everyday jobs. Cook putting his eggs in the enterprise basket could well be the masterstroke that the iPad is sitting waiting for.

iPhone 6 Plus gazumping the iPad Mini?

Apple took a big risk when it released its first ever phablet-sized smartphone in the shape of the iPhone 6 Plus and in the short term it has paid off by helping to deliver the record iPhone sales of 74.5 million mentioned above. What it also did according to certain observers is pull customers away from the Apple iPad Mini range that was only refreshed in October thus having a detrimental effect on the entire iPad range. The arrival and actual success of the iPhone 6 Plus will have a large bearing on whether we’ll ever see an iPad Mini again and that would dent the firm’s iPad sales once more.

The iPad’s direction will be a fascinating one to follow over the coming year given that even Apple doesn't seem to know exactly the duration of the “long arc” replacement cycle that it alluded to on Tuesday.