Apple iPad Air 2-9

Sales of Apple's iPad are on the decline as competitors launch new tablets and as consumers find more and more reasons to stick with the devices they already own. While Apple has already noted a year-on-year decline in iPad sales in previous quarters, for the first time ever it may announce a full calendar year decline in sales since the device launched.

ABI Research said recently that it expects Apple to report about 68 million iPad units sold during the calendar year of 2014, 6 million fewer units than the 74 million iPads it sold during the 2013 calendar year. "Unless Apple can pull off a 32+ million unit quarter, sales for CY2014 will be down for the first year since the iPad launched," ABI senior practice director Jeff Orr said. "Historically, Apple has counted approximately 35 percent of its iPad sales in the last calendar quarter of the year." Apple will unveil its calendar Q4/fiscal Q1 earnings in January.

ABI believes Apple will "reverse iPad misfortunes" next year as OEMs are expected to note 16 percent growth in tablets overall, thanks to the broader deployment of slates in the enterprise, tiered product portfolios and "benefits-oriented marketing messaging" to convince consumers into picking up new tablets.

Apple isn't alone in the boat. ABI said it expects Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Google to also note year-over-year declines, though competitors such as Microsoft, Samsung, LG, Lenovo, HP, Dell, ASUS and Acer may report increases in tablet sales. ABI also said that it expects 290 million tablets to ship just five years from now, in 2019.