‘Co-opetition’ and growing up

Apple's iPad Pro (Image: Apple)

11 September 2015

It was with great interest that I read about the Apple announcement of the iPad Pro, having heard rumours about it for quite some time.

The 12.9” device is thin, light and powerful, and runs iOS9. It also has a stylus accessory and keyboard cover. Just like the Surface Pro 3.

What it doesn’t have is a full desktop style operating system, as does the Surface.

“The iPad Pro is still, in my opinion, unlikely to be a primary machine and will still be seen as a companion device”

Now iOS 9 has had some significant multitasking additions, with the split screen and floating app window capabilities, but it is still somewhat hampered when it comes to true multitasking, especially when compared to the Surface Pro line.

It is fair to say that with Microsoft on stage at the Apple announcement, the iPad pro is being seen as a genuine productivity device, it still doesn’t have quite the same value proposition as the Surface Pro 3.

The iPad Pro is still, in my opinion, unlikely to be a primary machine and will still be seen as a companion device. While it appears to be capable of allowing serious productivity when required, it still doesn’t quite have the appeal of a full Macbook experience and so is unlikely to displace such machines. The Surface Pro 3 can be a full desktop, and then be slung in a bag with the Type cover to be a laptop, or used solo for a full tablet experience, especially with Windows 10 and Continuum mode.

The iPad Pro is no doubt a very good tablet, but it is a tablet that can also do some laptop/desktop functions. This is no longer down to the hardware, but because of the limitations of iOS. Now this may be a considered approach by Apple to prevent cannibalisation of other lines, but it may also limit its appeal in the business market where it is most likely to be adopted. It is less likely to be an impediment in the other likely niche, education.

While Microsoft had, before the Surface Pro 3, ploughed a somewhat lonely furrow with a laptop replacement tablet, other manufacturers have joined the fray and there are now several Surface-like options available, with Lenovo most recently jumping aboard the format train with the near clone Miix 700.

The Apple announcement was good news in other ways too. The appearance of Microsoft to talk about Office for iOS recognises that Microsoft is taking the iPad Pro seriously, and reciprocally, that Apple takes Office seriously as a productivity tool. The days of one side rubbishing the other’s efforts are gone and now there is simply recognition of what is good and a willingness to make that available to users of different ecosystems. This can only be a good thing.


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