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CIRP: iPad Air became most popular iPad over holidays
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Jan 20, 2014, 09:02 PM
If holiday sales are any indication, this may be the final year customers can buy a brand new "iPad 2." That's the conclusion of a new study by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), which found that the second-generation full-size iPad, originally introduced in early 2011, has faded to just five percent of sales (for the lowest-capacity model) in a recent analysis. Surprisingly, the full-size iPad Air and fourth-generation full-size Retina iPad accounted for 59 percent of iPad sales.

The first-generation iPad mini is the more popular of the two Mini models, with the non-Retina unit accounting for 25 percent of iPad sales and the latest Retina version making up 16 percent of the total. All models' sales are measured only by the least-expensive, lowest-capacity version of each model. While Apple doesn't report sales breakdowns of each model, analysts have believed that the iPad mini was significantly outselling the full-size iPad -- which may have been true, particularly during the period prior to the iPad Air, where the Mini models were significantly lighter and thinner than the then-current fourth-generation full-size model.

As would be expected, the older an iPad model is, the further it has fallen in popularity over the last year. The iPad 2 suffered the biggest drop, with most buyers preferring to get a newer iPad mini (either first- or second-gen) for around the same price. The fourth-generation iPad dropped from 43 percent of sales last holiday season to 13 percent currrently. Together, the two iPad mini models accounted for the exact same percentage of sales as the full-size but now thinner and lighter iPad Air did by itself -- 41 percent.

One trend becomes clear through the sales report: consumers are willing to pay more for lightweight models. The three top-selling iPad models are, regardless of price point, more popular than the cheaper but heavier fourth-generation iPad and even the relatively slim (but not as thin or light as the latest models) and discounted iPad 2. All the models surveyed can run the latest iOS version, and the older models can run all but the most graphically-intense gaming apps.

The holiday shift to the more expensive iPad models is also likely to reflect well on Apple fiscal Q1 figures, due to be reported on January 27. Investors will be looking to see if the iPad segment has increased profitability over previous quarters, where the Average Selling Price (ASP) has been dropping slowly since 2011.
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