Microsoft: Apple iPad Pro Owes Its Existence To Surface Pro

It has been an interesting thing to witness Microsoft's transformation over the past several years. Give Steve Ballmer credit—he knew that Microsoft needed fresh blood and so he handed the reins Satya Nadella. Microsoft has been a different company ever since, one that innovates in the hardware space. Even Apple is following Microsoft's lead, or at least that is what the Redmond outfit will tell you in regards to the iPad Pro.

Ryan Gavin, general manager for Surface, said the iPad Pro is a "clear example" of Apple following in Microsoft's footsteps. That has not always been the case and these days, Gavin says that even though Microsoft pays attention to the competition, the company does not really look at what Apple is doing. We have a tough time fully believing that statement, but his point about Microsoft being a market leader in the hardware design space is well taken.

Apple iPad Pro
Apple iPad Pro

"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 Business Insider. "We have been learning and perfecting our products in the 2-in-1 category for years now, [but]  when Surface initially launched everyone was skeptical, including them. And then they followed, and the iPad Pro is a clear example of that."

Gavin is correct in that regard. Microsoft even drew from some of its hardware partners for jumping into the hardware space, and Acer was especially critical of Microsoft's decision. One of Acer's execs said at the time that getting into the hardware business is like "hard rice," which is "not so easy to eat." The president of Acer back then even flat out told Microsoft that hardware "is not something you are good at."

Microsoft Surface Pro
Microsoft Surface Pro

Fast forward to today and Microsoft has proven otherwise. It's Surface products are popular among consumers. They've also spurred Microsoft's hardware partners to emulate the design with similar 2-in-1 products. Microsoft and Nadella deserve credit for recognizing early on where the market was headed. There were missteps along the way—Windows RT and related products such as Surface RT—but these days nobody is telling Microsoft that it's bad at hardware.

As to the iPad Pro, it is up for debate whether Gavin is right about it existence. Maybe Apple builds an iPad Pro without a Surface Pro model to lead the way, and maybe it does not. In the end it does not matter. Microsoft's early efforts have been vindicated.

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