What it is: The iPad Pro and Surface Pro target similar markets, so which one has a future?
It’s clear that the heyday of the PC is over. At one time, you needed a PC to send e-mail, write letters, and draw pictures. Nowadays you can do all that on a tablet, smartphone, or laptop. With so many options available, it’s not surprising that PCs are no longer selling as much as they used to. In fact, sales of PCs (both desktops and laptops) keep dropping every quarter because it’s no longer necessary to replace a PC every year or two to get new features.
While PCs are dying, both Apple and Microsoft are taking different approaches to the changing market. Apple is taking the iPad and making it bigger and more powerful, hence the name iPad Pro. Microsoft is taking a PC laptop and making it more like a tablet.
First, consider the Surface Pro. It’s an ultraportable PC laptop that can run the full version of Windows. That means you can run AutoCAD or Quark XPress on it if you want, making it theoretically far more capable than an iPad Pro. However the big drawback of the Surface Pro is how many people actually need the full power of a PC in a tablet form?
Some people do, but far more do not. Having the capability of running professional programs like AutoCAD or Quark XPress is one thing. Doing it on a regular basis is an entirely different option. Given the smaller screen of the Surface Pro, running AutoCAD or Quark XPress will work fine, but the tiny screen won’t be optimal. So a large majority of people won’t need to run professional programs and those that do won’t likely use them very often due to the smaller screen constraints.
Having the ability to run professional programs is nice, but it’s like the idea of hitching an RV to a scooter. Even if the scooter had enough horsepower to pull the RV, would you really want to do that?
So the verdict with the Surface Pro is that it’s a great ultra portable laptop and an okay tablet.
Looking at the iPad Pro, it’s essentially a souped up iPad capable of running all iOS apps. If you want to write programs using Xcode or do desktop publishing, you’re out of luck. For some people, that immediately rules out the iPad Pro, yet for many more people, that’s not a problem. The iPad Pro can do most of the work you need while the Surface Pro can do everything you need. The difference is that the iPad Pro caters to the basic needs of most people while the Surface Pro caters to the professional who needs a full computer on the road.
It’s not surprising that Apple sold more iPad Pros than Microsoft sold Surface Pros. That’s because more people can comfortably use the iPad Pro while far fewer people can take advantage of the strengths of the Surface Pro. The iPad Pro is also far easier to use while the Surface Pro brings along all the baggage of maintaining Windows from constant updates to scanning for viruses and other malware on a constant basis, not to mention fixing the Windows registry regularly as well.
For less hassle and less power, you have the iPad Pro. For more hassle and more power, you have the Surface Pro. The iPad Pro meets most people’s needs while the Surface Pro mostly meets a niche market of professionals.
Both products might be just right for you or completely wrong for you, depending on your needs. If you need to run powerful programs, then you’ll probably want a Surface Pro or a Macintosh laptop. If you just need to do basic work, then an iPad Pro will fit your needs while a Surface Pro will be overkill like a buying a motorcycle for a kid who’s learning to ride a bike.
The iPad Pro targets the masses. The Surface Pro targets professionals. Both have their place but in the long run, the iPad Pro targets the larger market of casual users while the Surface Pro tries to keep people locked in the past with Windows.
Windows is fine if it does what you need, but as the world shifts away from PCs (and Windows), there’s less and less of a need to use Windows at all any more. It will still get the job done, but so will so many other choices, and many of those choices will actually be simpler than Windows.
The Surface Pro is a great ultraportable laptop while the iPad Pro is a great tablet that can also double up as a capable laptop. Try both and see what you think. For most people, the simpler choice will be the iPad Pro.