Apple doesn’t want to compete with the Surface Pro, but why?


When Apple first introduced the iPad Pro, most assumed that their intention was to compete with the Surface Pro, but I’m pretty sure that’s no longer the case (or maybe it never was). Apple is just as capable as Microsoft, they could easily add touchpad/mouse support to the iPad, they could easily make iOS more like a real, full operating system, they could have given the keyboard a proper laptop mechanism (like the Surface Book bases hinge) instead of limiting it to just 2 angles. I could go on and on. The real question is, why don’t they want to compete with the Surface Pro? I’m not very familiar with Apple’s thinking so I genuinely would love to hear what everyone’s thoughts are on this

Comments (12)

12 responses to “Apple doesn’t want to compete with the Surface Pro, but why?”

  1. jimchamplin

    It’s got everything to do with their vision for iOS. If they add pervasive cursor support, then it completely defeats the purpose of creating a purely touch-driven UI.

    Kinda just the opposite is how everyone argued adding a touch UI to a desktop OS was a mistake... oh wait...

    • Bdsrev

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      But if they added touchpad/mouse support to the iPad, they wouldn't have to change the UI! Everything would stay big (touch targets) and well-spaced, as any touch-first UI should be. It would be great

  2. F4IL

    My guess is that they (apple) follow the philosophy of doing one thing and doing it well.

  3. rob_segal

    First of all, Apple sells a lot more iPads than Microsoft sells Surface Pros. There is not enough sales data from either company to compare Ipad Pro sales to Surface Pro sales. I believe this is an important point to make. Apple is not only competing with Surface Pro, but beating Surface Pro.

    Will adding mouse support help boost iPad sales, especially with the increasing cost of new iPad Pro models? I don't think so. Do users want mouse support on iPad more than Surface Pro users want a better tablet experience and ecosystem? Apple has the advantage where it's most important, an ecosystem of services and apps optimized for what the average user wants in a tablet.

    Adding a mouse pointer to IOS is less important than adding a more powerful file system app, easier use of external storage devices, keep improving multi-tasking, and other improvements like that.

    • Bdsrev

      In reply to rob_segal:

      I'm not talking about sales though

      • rob_segal

        In reply to Bdsrev:

        Sales is an important factor to discuss when considering devices competing with each other. From a revenue standpoint, the iPad is beating Surface Pro. Apple is slowly scaling its mobile OS up to its mobile tablet while Microsoft is trying to scale its decades-old desktop down to a mobile tablet. It's two different approaches and Apple is having much more success than Microsoft. The iPad is at the top of the mountain.

  4. Jhambi

    I'm sure there is plan once the laptops move to the A series chips. Until then have a look at the Pixel Slate as the hybrid OS competitor to the surface.

  5. Bats

    The answer to the question "why don’t they want to compete with the Surface Pro?" is easy.

    Apple is simply trying to re-invent computing. That's why they have a campaign called "What's a computer?"

    The Surface Pro is basically a modern laptop, whereas the iPad Pro and other non-PCs are newer and revolutionary ways of computing.

  6. FalseAgent

    Apple doesn't want to make a "real, full operating system". They just want to continue evolving their current approach to their mobile OS in ways that they think make sense. In other words, like what Microsoft tried to do with Windows 8 and backed away from, they are taking the long and hard road.

  7. christian.hvid

    Here are my $0.02: Apple most definitely wants the iPad Pro to be a productivity device, but combining touch and mouse support in the same operating system isn't as trivial as it would seem. Microsoft has been struggling with this for a decade (yes, Windows 7 has rudimentary touch support), and it's still less than perfect. And given Apple's obsession with getting it "just right", it's reasonable to believe that they just aren't satisfied with whatever progress they've had trying to add mouse support to the iPad.

    But it's just as likely that Apple is challenging the age-old wisdom that you need a mouse for precision work. After all, there's the Pencil, which is every bit as precise as a mouse, but with the added benefit of being pressure sensitive. If I had to guess, I'd say that what Apple really wants is for the mouse to become superfluous and the pen to become the new tool for precision input. Then, and only then, can they get rid of the aging macOS and use iOS across every type of device.

    Incidentally, this is what Microsoft wants too. They just don't have the ability to move the entire industry like Apple does.

  8. locust infested orchard inc

    I am of the opinion that when Adobe Photoshop for iØS is released, to the admiration of the bleating and frolicking herding faithful, iØS will be seen an no longer a "toy" or social-media consuming device, but rather as a serious device that has immense potential.

    The just released iFad Pro with its A12X Bionic SoC has some pretty performance figures compared to its predecessor, and with speed enhancements made almost religiously on a yearly basis, to the chagrin of the Wintel fanbase, the iFad Pro shall continue to become a force to be reckoned with (so shall the price).

    Over the next couple of years as more serious software applications, once the mainstay of macØS, migrate to iØS, these applications (including Photoshop) will be coded specifically for touchscreen input, mindful that pointer-based peripherals are unsupported (setting aside the iPencil as it is finger-like). This will ensure all future macØS software transcribed/recoded/recompiled to iØS will have absolutely no need for support other than by touch support (famously favoured by the late Steve Jobs who dismissed the stylus for the 10 digits we already possess).

    As this occurs, Cupertino will be ready to ditch Intel chips, as they have suggested, in favour of their homegrown chips at their blossoming silicon Orchard, commencing 2021/2022.

    So I envisage the iFad Pro to become a formidable competitor to the aesthetically crafted Windows laptops with Intel's -Y and -U series CPUs in the coming years, particularly as ARM SoCs witness vastly huge performance boosts over a year than Chipzilla's tortoise-like progress, who have been mired in 10nm hell for at least 4-5 years.

    If Apple sort out file management on iØS, the future of this once laughing stock OS, may gain considerable traction amongst professionals who both espouse the Apple mindset and seek serious creativity and productivity.

  9. Bill Russell

    I just think that at some point companies need to realize you can't "reconcile" two *completely* different usage models and I've been saying this for years. This applies to MS of course and then google more and more with the chromebook.

    Its like trying to combine a Mack truck and a car. You just can't, they serve totally different purposes, however both being transportation "devices".

    They are just more obviously different than perhaps a laptop and an iPad. I never agree that smartphones and iPads are "computers".

    They are or should be considered electronic appliances. I can understand maybe why steve jobs introduced the iPhone as a "pocket computer" way back then, but just because something has a programmable processor in it, doesn't make it a computer, as a true computer is or should be defined.

    I respect Apple for being in a position to resist combining a "dishwasher and refrigerator" as Tim Cook put it, but I don't see where they can really go significantly further with the iPhone and they need to get the iPad selling again.

    So I think they finally have no choice to go down that road. They need some place to put their more ever powerful A-series processor that is expected each year, as how much more power does an iPhone need? We are also quickly reaching the limits of silicon geometry - currently at 7nm.