Just when we thought that Microsoft and Apple are about to have a symbiotic relationship, they’re at it again. Old habits just die hard. Microsoft just threw more shade in Apple’s way, and this time, it’s about the iPad Pro aping Microsoft Surface Pro.
“You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but you know those things are not going to probably be pleasing to the user,”
— Tim Cook, statement about the Surface Pro
That’s what Tim said about the fledgling Microsoft Surface when it was first released back in 2012, akin to saying that the marriage of two very disparate products just wouldn’t work. Tablet and a PC? Yeah right. Four years later, Microsoft’s Surface brand not only put Microsoft back on the map, it has become a new leader in innovation when it comes to PCs, with Apple itself following.
Microsoft has been in the business of tablet PCs since the early 2000s, but the tablet concept didn’t take off until the iPad. The tablet concept only worked due to design. It it’s thin enough, if it’s light enough, touch-friendly and easy to use, tablets will work even if it’s named like a sanitary napkin. Design was what was lacking for business-centric Microsoft until they introduced the Surface Pro and the Surface RT. Slim and powerful tablet PCs that had covers that doubled as keyboards and kickstands that tilted the screen to make the tablets work like laptops.
The Surface Pro brand became a hit starting with the Surface Pro 3 solidifying Microsoft’s idea that consumerism and productivity can be combined in one device. As demand for the Surface products gradually rise, Apple’s iPad sales slowly flatten in the midst of the over-saturated consumer tablet market. More and more Surface Pros invade the enterprise, usually as sales and executive devices. Now many tablet and PC makers have their own hybrid PC models like the Lenovo Miix 700, HP Spectre 12, Dell XPS 12, Toshiba Dynapad, Jide Remix and now the iPad Pro.
The iPad Pro, unlike the other devices mentioned, is still an oversized iPad with a keyboard, limited in functionality without help from the likes of IBM and Microsoft. If what they showed in the film Pirates of Silicon Valley were true, Steve Jobs has a centrifuge for a grave.
“Three years ago, the two-in-one as a form factor was questioned. Does anybody need one? And now guess what, even our competition has decided that it’s not a refrigerator and a toaster but it’s actually a two-in-one,”
— Satya Nadella, remark in Australian Financial Times
Who could have predicted that you can cool your bread and toast it later? Due to the rise of hybrids and falling tablet sales, Apple introduced the larger iPad Pro with its own keyboard cover and Office apps from Microsoft to help it along. Apple goes so far as promoting it as a laptop replacement in the enterprise.
Microsoft further denigrates the iPad Pro with its latest commercial where Siri in the iPad Pro has a conversation with Cortana on a Surface Pro 4 on what a true computer is like. Siri only has her keyboard to show the world that she’s now a fully-pledged computer while Cortana has a trackpad, several more ports and real enterprise apps to her name.
Industry pundits have noted that Apple may be falling behind in innovation due to minor iterative improvements between the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 7 and introducing the Touchbar on the new MacBook Pros instead of a touch screen as opposed to Microsoft’s surprising reveal of the gorgeous Surface Studio and its companion the Surface Dial. If the iPad Pro is targeted for creatives, the Surface Studio with the Surface Dial is an iPad on steroids.
Microsoft is quickly invading Apple’s stomping grounds, and Apple is currently playing catch up. Cupertino better come up with something different and substantial soon or this won’t be the last time Tim hears shade from Satya.