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Apple users are keeping their iPads for a very long time

11-inch iPad Pro

Over the last few years, Apple customers have extended their upgrade cycles for iPads, possibly making the new models an appealing choice for those ready to purchase.

Apple announced on May 7 the long-anticipated new iPad models. The new iPad Pro is thinner than ever and has a new M4 chip, while the iPad Air is larger.

Analysis of iPad buyer behavior over the past three years indicates that customers are extending the life of their devices. In the most recent 12-month period, nearly two-thirds of new iPad buyers who previously owned an iPad had kept their old devices for at least two years.

The numbers are an increase from 2022 when only half of the buyers had kept their iPads for that long, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP).

Most notably, there has been a rise in consumers who retained their iPads for three or more years before purchasing a new one. The segment grew to 40% of recent buyers, up from 28% in 2022.

Customers typically upgrade when their current device experiences issues such as battery life degradation, insufficient storage, or general usability problems. However, some hold out for new models that offer compelling features or performance improvements.

Bar chart displaying customer loyalty by years, with percentages from 2022 to 2024, categorized by tenure intervals: less than 1, 1-2, 2-3, 3+ years.
Age of previous iPads (annual period ending in March)

People also changed their spending behavior due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is not addressed in Wednesday's report. During the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, many consumers upgraded their Apple devices, including iPads.

The extended upgrade cycles can also be attributed to the high quality and longevity of Apple's products, which have set a high standard for durability and performance.

The pattern highlights the importance of innovation in driving sales in the tech industry. Consumers need compelling reasons to replace their devices, mainly when existing models perform adequately.

Apple's challenge has always been consistently delivering features that justify investing in a new device. Looking ahead, the iPad market is poised for a resurgence as users waiting for the right moment to upgrade finally make their move. The introduction of new models will likely rejuvenate interest. What it does for long-term replacement cycles remains to be seen.