The iPad Pro outsold Microsoft’s entire Surface lineup in Q4 of 2015

Posted:  February 2, 2016   By:    3 comments   

Ah, tablets. If a tablet was one of the characters in my sappy rom-com, it’d be the ‘one that got away’. To me, it was a novel idea where you could have your smartphone with you for the serious business stuff while your tablet showed you a good time between working hours — literally, with videos and movies or a good book — but when you actually think about it, the tablet simply isn’t practical.

If you take a look at the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) latest report on their preliminary data from the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, you’ll find the truth in my words as tablet sales are on a downward trajectory. That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom though as their report also says that detachable tablet sales have reached an all-time high — lead by the sales of none other than the Apple iPad Pro.


Spearheading the detachable (or convertible/2-in-1) pack to finish at 8.1 million devices sold in Q4 of 2015 is Apple’s biggest iPad, the Pro, raking in just over 2 million units sold — more than Microsoft’s entire Surface lineup put together. That’s quite surprising if you ask me because we think that the Surface, especially the Pro 4 is a fantastic little 2-in-1 that can easily replace your laptop, at least for productivity anyway.

On the other hand, if you look at reviews online, the iPad Pro is nothing more than a ginormous iPad with a flimsy looking rubber keyboard that has the word “Smart” in its name. Uh oh, am I “bashing” Apple again? Oops.

I guess I was wrong then if we’re going off sales figures because Microsoft only sold about 1.6 million Surface devices in the same quarter. That’s a gigantic gap especially if you consider how many Surface devices there are on the market versus the lone iPad Pro. Quite a feat then but it’s worth noting that this is only one quarter and we’ll have to see if the iPad Pro can keep this up over the coming quarters.

We can definitely see the appeal of a 2-in-1 because it brings the power of the laptop into the form-factor of a tablet. The emphasis is on power though as IDC’s findings reveal that of the Surface devices sold, more of them are of the pricier and more powerful Surface Pro line, as opposed to a more affordable Surface 3.

That said, Microsoft wasn’t the biggest loser in the last quarter because that title belongs to Google. According to the IDC, Google’s recent stab at staking a claim in the convertible market was rather lackluster and that it “will require a lot more refinement to achieve any measurable success”.

Oh dear. Google better get cracking on that Chrome OS/Android operating system if they want to carve a slice out of this market.

Rounding up the report though is the sad news of the “slate” tablet’s slow demise as the entire tablet sales dropped 10.1%, from 230.1 million to 206.8 million devices. The way we see it, the problem with the slate tablet is that they’re neither here nor there.

Unless you’re picking up one of Apple’s iPads (they’re leading the sales by the way at 16.1 million units shipped — 7.1 million more than the second-placed Samsung) which do offer some tablet optimisations, you’re usually stuck with either an unoptimised Android tablet or a buggy Windows tablet.

Amazon’s USD50 (around RM210) Fire tablet, which runs on their own Fire OS, did come in at a surprising third place — accounting for 7.9% of the market share, beating out the likes of Lenovo and Huawei. Though IDC does note that Amazon’s success is purely based on the price of its tablet.

Trying times for the tablet industry it seems, though, there is some hope in the convertible market, it looks like the slate tablet is slowly dying off.


Apple, Industry in General, iOS, Microsoft, Mobile Devices, Mobile OS, Windows 10
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3 Comments for The iPad Pro outsold Microsoft’s entire Surface lineup in Q4 of 2015


Rory, your opinion is that Surface Pro 4 is much more practical then the iPad pro because it can be a desktop replacement?
Like Microsoft, you have gotten it all wrong.
Majority of the people that bought ipad, bought it to kill time, not save time or be productive. So the 'thing' need to be fun, cool, have lots of stuff to download from the store, long battery life…. But I rarely hear people want it because to get some work done. And try you pass a surface to a 5 year old kid, they will scream at you and demand their ipad back.

And people that ultimately want a productivity tool would not buy a Surface but a more traditional laptop.

And also, it doesn't help that Microsoft has been confusing the market with the Pro non-Pro product segment and different version of Windows. Windows 8 lah 10 lah RT lah…


    “Yes, the iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people. They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones.” – Tim Cook.


    As you can see, using the iPad Pro as a "laptop replacement" is in no way "my opinion", but what Tim Cook himself claims the iPad Pro can be used for. Plus, Apple sells the iPad Pro alongside its accessories — a keyboard and a Pencil — both of which I doubt are marketed towards 5-year-olds who spend their time screaming for iPads. For mere games and media consumption the more affordable iPad Air and iPad mini does exactly that but for RM3,599, you would certainly expect the iPad Pro to do more.


The Surface Pro 4 is pretty decent from a hardware standpoint. However, the software just isn't as appealing. As pointed out, hands down, as a consumption device, the iPad is unmatched with it's optimised apps. Productivity wise, it is getting to a point where it's really quite usable. Granted, you still cannot beat a traditional notebook for serious word processing, complex spreadsheets, heavy Photoshop work, etc. But for many users who have more modest needs, an iPad Pro certainly can get many if most productivity tasks done in addition to being a consumption device. With this in mind, the Surface Pro is expensive for a hybrid since the tablet side is just not that good and most likely users will just go for a cheaper Windows notebook or a MacBook.