Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has seen the iPad slip from the minds of most in recent years. The original iPad was an oddity, the iPad 2 was a sensation. By the time 2012 saw the release of the new iPad and the iPad 4, most in the tech world seemed to lose connection with the tablet. New research suggests that actual activity may have followed the same pattern.

Apple iPad 5

A report from mobile data anlaysis firm Localytics, which was picked up by Apple Insider today, shows that the most active iPad model out there is still the iPad 2. The device, which was released in 2011, was the first iPad to make a big impact in sales, and the fact that it’s been on the market for the last three years probably helped.

Apple iPad sales problems

According to the Localytics report, 38% of active iPads are the iPad 2. The iPad 1, 3, and iPad Mini take 8%t, 19%, 18% and 17% respectively. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is not having an easy time selling new premium iPads to customers and more recent figures suggest the product is not growing at all.

The iPad has not been the resounding success that many thought it could be. The product is used for many things, but none of them require specific hardware or special features. When a low-priced, high-quality Android tablet can be bought new for half the price, sales of the iPad are bound to suffer.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) got into the smartphone race earlier, and it dominated before android could release phones with any real quality. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) pushed the Android tablet market much more quickly, and the company managed to take it right from the Apple’s grasp.

Apple is not likely to let that go, so the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad 5 launch event will be interesting. The company needs to do something in order to differentiate the iPad from those budget Android tablets. It needs to add value to the iPad 5.

The product doesn’t work as a status symbol like the iPhone does, nor does it have the range of functions of that product. For most, a tablet is an Internet browser and Netflix viewer. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) needs to make the iPad something most people use for more than that. The Google Nexus manages both of those tasks just as well for a lower price.

Apple iPad 5 launch

Many analysts have been trying to figure out what the features of the iPad 5 will be, but they don’t seem all that enthusiastic. iPhone rumors are almost always full of speculation and a race to find out the information first. The iPad doesn’t sell nearly as well. It’s not as important to investors, so analysts aren’t that thrilled.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will deliver a wonderful product tomorrow, but it won’t be enough to replace the iPhone at the top. The Apple iPad 2 is the most popular version for a reason. People just aren’t that excited about the tablet computer.