Over the past two years, a handful of large companies have killed their iPad apps in favor of web experiences, so it’s not a huge shock that Delta Air Lines has joined the farewell party. Delta announced today that it’s discontinuing its Fly Delta for iPad app in favor of a tablet-friendly web browser experience; the app is no longer available in Apple’s App Store. Alternately, iPad users can use Delta’s iPhone-optimized Fly Delta app, which upscales to fill much of the iPad screen.
Delta’s decision appears to be based upon diminishing returns from maintaining a tablet-specific interface. In an email to customers, Delta said that both its iPhone Fly Delta app and website “are already more feature-rich than our standalone iPad app and have much higher customer satisfaction.” The iPhone app, Delta notes, is “currently the highest-rated airline app in the App Store.”
In a statement to VentureBeat, Delta added that the iPad app’s discontinuation is to “focus on delivering a consistent customer experience through the channels our customers use most.”
The hint at weakening use of the tablet app isn’t surprising. Like tablet sales as a whole, iPad sales have been on the decline since hitting a 2013-2014 peak, only recently measuring small upticks after a particularly poor 2016. Tablets were once seen as heralds of a “post-PC” era of computing, but appear to have settled into a nook as desktop, laptop, and smartphone companions rather than replacements.
Delta’s discontinuation of its iPad app follows similar 2015 and 2016 decisions by Walmart, Target, and Citibank to eliminate iPad apps in favor of web browser experiences. At the time, Target suggested that improvements to its website had reduced the need for an iPad-specific app and interface; it continues to maintain an iPhone app. Citibank discontinued its iPad app and redirects customers to its website or iPhone app. But Walmart subsequently added iPad support to its iPhone-only app, effectively reversing its prior decision.