Apple Goes All Out On Rival Microsoft

March 21, 2016, 8:16 PM UTC

Apple stepped up in its never-ending battle with rival Microsoft.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company rolled out a smaller version of its iPad Pro tablet device on Monday, targeting corporate clients and office workers. The device, which competes with Microsoft’s high-end tablets such as the Surface Pro and Surface Book, was unveiled with a 9.7-inch screen size while its larger iPad Pro sibling still has a 12.9-inch display.

Apple (AAPL) is betting that corporate customers will want a smaller version of the iPad Pro, which went on sale last fall, framing it as more comfortable to carry while also retaining support for Apple’s Pencil stylus and removable keyboard.

The new device, introduced during Apple’s first media event of 2016, highlights the consumer tech giant’s continuing efforts to became a big corporate technology seller.

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Over the past year, Apple has partnered with legacy enterprise companies, including IBM (IBM) and Cisco (CSCO), to cross-sell products. Apple hopes these high-profile partnerships will help it build relationships with corporations that would have been more difficult to do without help from traditional business technology providers.

In September, Apple shocked technology analysts and journalists when it invited a Microsoft (MSFT) executive to appear at a fall media event in which Apple first trotted out the iPad Pro. The two companies have been fierce rivals for decades, but they temporarily put aside their differences (at least on stage) to demonstrate how each company’s products work in tandem.

Apple needed Microsoft’s credibility with businesses to show how its new tablet could be used to run Microsoft’s Office software suite. For Microsoft, it was just another example of the company trying to illustrate how much more willing it is to collaborate with rivals under current chief executive Satya Nadella than under former CEO Steve Ballmer.

The charade seemed to work in Apple’s favor, with a February International Data Corporation report noting Apple’s iPad Pro outsold Microsoft Surface-branded devices during the fourth quarter of 2015.

Now that Apple seems to have gotten what it wanted out of Microsoft, the company went on a full-court press against the Redmond, Wash.-based corporation during its latest media event.

Apple’s head marketer Phil Schiller took several shots at Microsoft during his presentation of the new iPad, suggesting Apple is hoping to convert the millions of Windows users in the marketplace to jump-ship to the world of Apple’s operating systems comprised of iOS and Mac OS.

Schiller quipped that the majority of new iPad Pro customers “are coming from a Windows PC,” and he belittled both the Windows operating system and PCs powered by it, reflecting they were created before modern technological innovations like the Internet and Apple’s App Store.

Schiller also cited that that there are over 600 million personal computers in use today “that are over five-years-old.”

“This is really sad,” said Schiller.

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Even Apple CEO Tim Cook chimed in after Schiller’s talk to encourage PC users to ditch Windows and hook up with Apple.

“We think that whether you already have an iPad or whether it’s time to replace that PC laptop, the iPad Pro is an amazing choice that allows you to do so much more,” Cook posited.

It’s not surprising that Apple executives would be quick to call out rivals as they unveil new competing products. But the fact that Apple went straight after Microsoft after only a few months when it invited the company to its own press event is noteworthy because it reveals how intense the tablet market is for Apple.

One day Apple needs Microsoft to show consumers that it can do business, and then the next day Apple disparages Microsoft to persuade those consumers that it has superior technology.

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