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Apple's New Patent Could Help Resurrect iPad Sales

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!

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 09, 2014, at 3:40 AM, nobodyspecial2u wrote:

    When referencing articles with data please provide a link so we can go read it. IE, the newzoo info.

    Trust but verify ;) The articles are more potent/trustworthy when you give us the links to the data you're referencing so we can check it ourselves.

    Also links to the walking dead & bioshock info. A reader here, has no idea if you mean the next walking dead series is exclusive to Apple or not etc. We need the source link listed either immediately after the comment or at least a source list at the bottom of your articles. Everyone should follow this practice on TMF. I'd never heard 90% of revenue was coming from games either (for google I mean), so link for that report too. I'd heard in the 60-70's % wise and below across all app stores (amazon, google, MS, Apple). But still high, just saying never heard 90%. so I'd like to read that myself.

    Thanks :)

  • Report this Comment On August 09, 2014, at 1:10 PM, TMFJCar wrote:


    First, thanks for reading the article and personally I understand your desire to ensure we're providing accurate information.

    But here are the links -- Newzoo:

    As far as the Walking Dead and Bioshock, I never said they were exclusive. However, here is the link for BioShock:

    Finally, I never said 90% of Google's revenue is from games. I said 90% of Google Play's revenue during the first quarter came from games. Here is the link:

    "During Google's first quarter of this year, 90% of revenue came from games."

    As far as the links on the articles go, that's above my pay grade. However, we do source our articles for the Motley Fool editors. Personally, I think excessive links may be a little distracting.

    Thanks for reading,

    TMFJCar -- the author

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Jamal Carnette

After working at The Motley Fool, Jamal Carnette decided to try his hand at writing for a change. You can find him writing about technology, consumer goods, sports, and pontificating on any competitive advantage. His previous jobs include Mortgage Trainer, Financial Advisor, and Stockbroker. Jamal graduated from George Mason University with a bachelors of science in finance and is a CFA Level III candidate. Follow me for tech trends, info on consumer brands, and sports banter.

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