Apple’s Focus On the iPhone 13 Won’t Ruin the iPad

It probably won't even hurt it much

Key Takeaways

  • Apple’s decision to put the iPhone 13 before the iPad isn’t ideal, but it’s sensible to prioritize the more popular product for the holiday season.
  • Having to wait longer to get a new iPad is frustrating, but it’s important to remember it’s a delay and not a shortage.
  • Once manufacturing picks up again, the iPad could even see a surge in popularity.
Apple launches the iPhone 13 in the UK at its Regent Street store on September 24, 2021 in London, England

Ming Yeung / Getty Images

Apple's decision to prioritize the iPhone 13 over the iPad amid supply shortages isn't ideal, but it's hardly a death knell.

With the holiday season fast approaching, it's possibly the worst time of year to have to deal with supply chain issues—let alone decide which popular smart device to prioritize. However, that's exactly what Apple has had to do, resulting in a reduction in iPad manufacturing to keep producing as many iPhone 13s as possible. The approach makes sense from a business standpoint as the iPhone has consistently been Apple's most popular device, but it does leave fans of the iPad in the lurch.

"The iPhone is still very much Apple's flagship product ($65.6B in iPhone holiday sales, Q4 2020) and is the on-ramp for so many other Apple experiences such as Apple Watch, AirPods, iCloud, and Apple Music," said David Starr, CEO and Founder of Apple IT Managed Services company Black Glove, in an email to Lifewire. "All of this suggests that the supply chain news shouldn't be read in any way as a surprise de-prioritization of [the] iPad, but rather an intentional emphasis on iPhone."

It’ll Be Rough

This isn’t to say there won’t be repercussions or that there haven’t been some already. iPad orders have seen delays for several months, even when buying directly from Apple’s website. And it’s likely these delays will continue along with the supply chain shortages or until Apple decides to re-distribute its manufacturing resources.

A view of the Apple Store in Grand Central Terminal on March 18, 2020 in New York City

Noam Galai / Getty Images

"... in the home shopping world, we have a hard time keeping them in stock even when there are no supply chain issues," said Justin Sochovka, Consumer Electronics Expert for Home Shopping Networks, in an email. "The best advice I can give to anyone right now [is] if you see it, buy it."

Another problem is that, as Starr previously stated, the iPhone often acts as a gateway into the Apple ecosystem for many first-time users. Once they're familiar with the iPhone, they might want to branch out and try other Apple products like the iPad. But they could be put off (or at least frustrated) if the iPad is difficult to come by.

According to Sochovka, "I hear from so many customers who have picked up an iPhone, [and have] loved it so much that they got an iPad because it is basically a glorified phone and they already know how to use it."

But It’ll Be Okay

Such frustration is certainly warranted and is also unlikely to convince new or returning customers to put on a happy face. That being said, the iPad is still way too popular for this to amount to much more than an annoying bump in the road. Even if it were a bigger issue, other tablets can’t fully replicate what the iPad can provide.

man with digital tablet in kitchen at home

Westend61 / Getty Images

"It's important to remember that demand deferred is not demand destroyed," said Starr. "Key iPad experiences such as Magic Keyboard, backlit keyboard and trackpad, Apple Pencil note-taking, 5G cellular networking, and Center Stage video conferencing are not easily replaced by moving to an available Android tablet."

There's no denying that the iPad is being affected by prioritizing the iPhone 13 over the iPad. But what happens when manufacturing starts to pick up again? Will it be difficult for Apple to rekindle consumer interest once its tablet is easier to find? Star is confident this won't be an issue.

"When the global supply constraints start to subside, iPad looks poised to return to growth for consumers, schools, and businesses," Starr stated.

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