That must mean that Microsoft is doing well and Apple, well, not so much. The common thought among analysts and tech industry critics is that Microsoft’s Surface devices are doing well and Apple’s iPad is suffering (both true, to an extent), ipso facto, alakazam, Apple should be more like Microsoft.
Damned Lying Numbers
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes thinks Apple should be more like Microsoft. Why? Surface vs. iPad. Microsoft is selling more Surface tablets recently while Apple is selling fewer iPads recently.
Here’s an interesting question. How many Surface anythings did Microsoft sell in 2015? The company won’t say because the number would embarrass the stock price’s lofty position (born in part by the Surface’s success). For better or worse, Apple tells the tale of the iPad tape every quarter, and iPad sales have dropped year-over-year for a couple of years.
What the numbers don’t tell is why anyone considers a Surface anything to be a tablet. Surface and Surface Pro is a keyboard-less hybrid device which is more notebook than tablet. It runs full on Windows and only Microsoft knows how many have been sold and they’re not telling.
Surface Book is a full on Windows notebook of the MacBook Pro class with a price to match. Every quarter Apple tells the world how many Macs it sells (last year was another record) but Microsoft is silent on how many Surface Book models have been sold, leaving the numbers game to the various industry guesstimators who pull their numbers from places where sun doesn’t shine. Ever.
Kingsley-Hughes makes a good point about the iPad and how it’s used vs. a Microsoft Surface and it’s used. The iPad is a big iPhone. The iPad has a big screen and no phone and those are the only real differences until you get to iPad Pro which has a very much heralded Pencil (which, oddly enough, still does not stick magnetically to the iPad).
Meanwhile, every non-Surface Book Surface device can operate as a tablet and as a diminutive notebook; just add keyboard and you’ve got a very portable netbook that runs Windows. Take the keyboard away and you’ve got a heavy, underpowered, low-battery-life tablet with a clunky interface. What’s not to like? Some Windows touchscreen devices used as tablets go for $199 and they all do one thing the iPad cannot do. Yet. That is, run a full operating system. Surface devices and inexpensive touchscreen devices can all run Windows. An iPad is restricted to just iOS and apps made for the iPad.
To be fair, that’s not a bad deal. There are more tablet apps available and more easily accessible for iPad than there are for Windows touchscreen devices, including Surface, so it’s easy to see why members of the technorati elite politburo like Kingsley-Hughes would prefer a Surface hybrid to an iPad.
Obviously, that’s not necessarily the case for average computer users who buy far more iPads than Surface devices, but the point is well made. Customers who want a tablet device cannot use OS X or powerful apps made for the Mac. They’re stuck with iPad apps from the App Store.
Some think iOS is the iPad’s Achilles’ heel but that’s not why sales have diminished the past couple of years. Personally, I think we’ve entered the age of techno-device fatigue. It’s real. And it helps to explain why iPad sales have declined (Microsoft’s Surface sales haven’t been exactly stellar, otherwise wouldn’t the company tell you how many they sold?), but something else might be at work here. Every mature product has a life cycle whereby new devices are sold as old devices fade from use. The Mac has been a mature product for years. The iPad is not mature and most of those sold remain in use today.
Microsoft should have such a problem.