Apple tablet sales disappoint

Buried in amongst Apple’s stonkingly good results was the news that its tablets had not sold as well as expected.

This will be a surprise to many as the press has been full of stories about how the game-changing netbook without a keyboard is selling extremely well.

But Apple admitted that it only flogged 4.69 million iPads during the quarter, while analysts were expecting about 6.3 million.

Of course the press has been putting Apple’s spin on the matter. The line has been that the iPad only started selling three weeks before the end of the quarter, and manufacturing constraints prevented Apple from selling more of them.

That would be a viable excuse if we had not been talking about “expected” sales. The “expected” figures were based on the fact that the quarter was going to end.

Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer insisted that Apple sold every tablet it made and the numbers problem will be resolved by expanding the number of countries in which it sells the tablet.

But hang on, if there was huge demand you would not need to flog your gear in other countries, you would have too much of a market where you normally sell them.

Oppenheimer seems to be suggesting that Apple thinks the existing markets are saturated and will not buy any more iPads. The only way to get sales of the keyboardless netbooks is to flog them in places where they have not been seen before.

This actually fits in with our belief that the tablet thing is an Apple marketing phenomena and the gear is the chocolate teapot of technology to a point. It seems that sooner or later, despite all the media hype, people are waking up to the fact that it is technology without a practical use.

This explains why other hardware outfits have been unable to sell tablets. If Jobs and the Tame Apple Press were correct and tablets are the future, then other manufacturers would be able to sell them. The fact they can’t proves that it is an Apple thing only. The fact that Apple can’t sell any more of them indicates there is a point where its marketing can’t sell something that people don’t need.

This is bad news for those companies that are banking on a Jobs’ Mob vision of tablets to pull their nadgers out of the fire.

They would be better off investing in smartphones, which Apple’s figures show punters cannot get enough of. Decent smartphones are more useful than a tablet anyway.