Apple's New Patent Could Help Resurrect iPad Sales

A focus on gaming could turn around sluggish iPad sales.

Aug 7, 2014 at 7:00PM

For anybody who's been following Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) over the past four fiscal quarters, one big story has been iPad sales. Actually, the lack of iPad sales would be a more appropriate description, with sales down 5.4% on a year-over-year basis. And while Wall Street analysts are using apocalyptic language to describe this decline, Cupertino is looking to further revolutionize the product.

A recently granted patent for backside iPad gaming controls shows Apple is going hard after the gaming set. In addition, Patently Apple argues that if you look at some of Apple's recent moves -- the new graphics technology that maximizes the A7 chip named Metal and the upcoming newest iteration of the Walking Dead gaming franchise and the introduction of BioShock -- you can see that Apple is serious about competing for gamers.

Why gaming, and why now?
First of all, gaming is a huge market. According to Newzoo, the international games market is projected to rake in $81.4 billion in 2014, with mobile claiming 27% of that total, or $21.7 billion. An impressive market, absolutely, but even more impressive is that the study projects mobile to grow to $35.4 billion in 2017, averaging 17.5% per year.

Apple could potentially profit in two ways from these favorable headwinds: First, and more directly, Apple benefits from increased demand for new content from its App Store. Secondly, Apple benefits if it can lure gamers to its hardware by presenting a high-quality gaming device. However, when you're talking about a nearly $100 billion market, you can be sure that competitors are not resting on their laurels.

Competition will be fierce
Apple faces competition on a host of fronts with its planned expansion into gaming. On the hardware side, it faces a challenge from recently released NVIDIA's (NASDAQ:NVDA) Shield tablet, a targeted product designed directly for hardcore gamers. And on the content side, it faces constant threats from Google's Android ecosystem and a host of device makers that run it -- of which NVIDIA's Shield is one.

However, Apple fits a nice niche here. Although it doesn't match up to NVIDIA's pure raw GPU processing power -- after all, NVIDIA's Shield tablet runs its Tegra K1 mobile processor that's built on its powerful Kepler architecture -- NVIDIA has to contend with other Android-based tablets, namely Samsung, that are hungry for unit sales.

Speaking of Android, Google is keenly aware of gaming's importance to its ecosystem. Matter of fact, as far as Google Play goes, 90% of all revenue came from games during Google's first quarter. And you can be sure that Google wants to protect that revenue stream. And while up until now, gaming specifically hasn't proved to be a differentiator -- most mobile devices tend to compete on price and overall ecosystem -- it is possible for Apple to work with its host of developers to present a gaming experience that sets it apart.

Final thoughts
Apple's iPad has seen better days. However, as Tim Cook has astutely pointed out, it's still Apple's fastest-growing product ever. With sales falling, opening up the iPad to new markets and demographics will keep Cupertino's top line growing. By focusing on presenting a mobile, gaming-based solution, Apple could disrupt yet another market. Apple investors would be wise to watch any new developments in its gaming strategy going forward.

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early-in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Jamal Carnette has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (A and C shares), and NVIDIA and owns shares of Apple and Google (A and C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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