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Boring tablet space heats up as Microsoft exec says iPad Pro wouldn’t exist without Surface

Updated Jun 16th, 2017 10:55AM EDT
iPad Pro

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Apple’s just-released iPad Pro represents a brief moment of excitement in a market segment that is otherwise a terrible bore. Tablets are great devices, of course, but the market is already in decline following the realization that for most people, tablets cannot actually replace either a laptop or a smartphone. That places them squarely in a category with other luxury items; they’re nice to have, but they’re hardly a necessity.

The new iPad Pro is the most powerful iPad Apple has ever made. In some tests, it’s actually more powerful than the MacBook Pro. Apple fans who have purchased the new model appear to be enamored, and they’ve taken to social media to express their excitement. Even more exciting than the iPad Pro itself, however, are some recent comments about Apple’s latest tablet that were made by an executive at Microsoft.

In an interview with Business Insider, Microsoft’s general manager for the Surface product line had some interesting things to say about Apple’s new iPad Pro, which began shipping to customers earlier this week. According to Ryan Gavin, the iPad Pro is a “clear example” of Apple copying Microsoft’s strategy.

“Think about it, if we had been looking at [Apple] we wouldn’t have made a product like Surface Pro or Surface Book,” Gavin told the blog. “We have been learning and perfecting our products in the 2-in-1 category for years now. When Surface initially launched everyone was skeptical, including them. And then they followed, and the iPad Pro is a clear example of that.”

It’s an interesting take on the history of the tablet market over the past few years, though Gavin isn’t entirely wrong. Apple’s iPad lineup has indeed gotten far more powerful over the years, and Apple focused far more on productivity during its most recent iPad launch than it ever has in the past.

The increasing power and capability of the iPad line obviously has nothing to do with Microsoft or its Surface tablets — like every other company that sells smartphones, tablets, and/or computers, Apple’s products grow more and more powerful as technologies improve. It is quite possible, however, that Apple’s shift to an increased focus on productivity was in fact influenced by Microsoft’s Surface lineup.

Of course, if the Microsoft executive was to reach back a bit further in the tablet market’s timeline, he would find a company that scrambled to catch up years after Apple’s first introduced the iPad. And as we all remember, Microsoft failed miserably. Windows 8 was the company’s first attempt to chase the iPad, with a UI designed for touch. It ended up being a disaster, and Microsoft was left to pick up the pieces with Windows 10.

Did Microsoft readjust its strategy following the launch of the original iPad? Yes. Has Apple readjusted its strategy following the launch of the Surface line? Yes. In other words, this is a classic example of companies reacting to each other, which is something that happens across every area of the consumer electronics industry.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.