When Apple reports its fourth consecutive quarterly decline in iPad sales next week, the Street is likely to greet the news with a shrug.
The iPad is not raking in huge profits like the iPhone. It’s not the center of white-hot media attention like the Watch. It’s almost as un-newsworthy as the iPod, whose product refresh yesterday barely merited a press release.
Of the 25 analysts Fortune surveyed in advance of next week’s earnings report—14 professionals and 11 independents—not one believes that Apple sold more iPads last quarter than the 13.28 million it sold in the same quarter last year. Their estimates range widely—from 7.5 million to 13 million—but the average estimate is 10.7 million, down 19% year over year.
Sales may yet pick up. A new model is reported to be in the works, and IBM’s salesforce ought eventually to have something to show for its efforts.
But the rise and fall of quarterly sales in the chart below could be instructive. Is this what the Apple Watch will look like five years hence? Like a tablet—and unlike a phone—a smartwatch seems to be more nice-to-have than must-have.
Below: The Fortune panel’s individual iPad estimates—pros in blue, indies in green. We’ll find out who was closest to the mark when Apple reports its fiscal Q3 2015 earnings after the markets close on Tuesday, July 21.
Thanks once again to Posts at Eventide‘s Robert Paul Leitao for pulling together the Braeburn Group numbers.
Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple
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