Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Mocks Apple iPad Pro For Trying To Imitate Surface

History (and Hollywood movies) taught us that you shouldn't pick on the school nerd, because it's the school nerd who goes on to become a raging success and gets the girl or guy. Apple missed that lesson. While Apple CEO Tim Cook was busy throwing shade at the convertible tablet category by comparing the concept to the futility of trying to merge a toaster with a refrigerator, Microsoft was busy designing the Surface Pro. Now it's Microsoft boss Satya Nadella who is getting the last laugh.

Let's go back in time, shall we? If you set the DeLorean to early 2012, you can sit in and listen to Cook talk about the state of Apple during the company's first-quarter earnings call. Windows 8 had not yet released to the public and netbooks were still a thing. The transformation at Microsoft and in the PC industry as a whole that Cook didn't see coming was right around the corner.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

"You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but you know those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user. So our view is that the tablet market is huge; we've said that since day one, we didn't wait until we had a lot of results... The iPad has taken off in not only consumer in a meaningful way, but in consumer, in education, enterprise, and its sort of everywhere you look now," Cook bragged.

Cook went on to talk about shipping 67 million iPad devices during the quarter and hinted at tablets taking over the landscape from PCs in the next few years. That didn't happen. IDC, one of the market research firms Cook leaned on to make his prediction, recently reported a 14.7 percent decline in tablet shipments with worldwide shipments reaching just 39.6 million among an "overall disinterested customer base." Out of those, Apple shipped 10.3 million, an 18.8 percent year-on-year decline and a far cry from the 67 million shipments that had Cook so excited about the category four short years ago.

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review, Cook said the secret to competing with Apple and Amazon was to stop trying to. He also used the interview as an opportunity to throw a dig at Cook and the comments he made about detachables.

"The key in any momentum we have is that you have to have some amount of boldness in taking risk, and knowing that you are not always going to get it right," Nadella said. "I mean, take Surface. Three years ago, the two-in-one as a form factor was questioned. Does anybody need one? And now guess what, even our competition has decided that it's not a refrigerator and a toaster, but it's actually a two-in-one."

Apple iPad Pro

Nadella is referring to the iPad Pro, Apple's attempt to get some skin in the game that Microsoft largely created with its Surface line. But the problem with the iPad Pro is that it's still largely focused on mobile at the expense of productivity—it runs iOS rather than OS X, whereas the Surface Pro and Surface Book run a full fledged version of Windows 10.

Give Microsoft credit here. The detachable category is one that is growing even while PC shipments as a whole have declined, and Microsoft is positioned to benefit from it. Who knows what the landscape will like in another four or five years, but for now, Nadella has earned the right to poke a little fun at Microsoft's rivals.