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Can the iPad Pro take on the Surface Pro at work?

Ryan Faas | Oct. 26, 2015
Apple's new super-sized tablet arrives in November, targets the enterprise

The real solution for enterprise apps when it comes to the iPad Pro would be to create versions tailored for iOS. That can mean writing a native iOS app from scratch, creating a web-based interface that works on an iPad, or building a hybrid that installs as a native app but loads content like a web app. All of those options will require money, possibly a very significant investment, and time.

Even if existing apps are going to be phased out, replaced or updated, the Surface Pro's ability to run them during the transition can be a significant reason to consider it over the iPad Pro.

Service and support

Apple products are generally known to offer a lower total cost of ownership when support and service are considered. IBM's recent announcement about how much lower its support needs are for Apple devices is an excellent example. This could be an advantage to Apple in a head-to-head matchup between the iPad Pro and Surface Pro in business.

The exact support costs, however, aren't easy to calculate. While they obviously include help desk support, they also include service or replacement of hardware. Microsoft's recently announced enterprise service program for the Surface Pro could help tilt the equation, though it's difficult to judge at this point since the company has yet to discuss pricing. And Apple's partnership with IBM to provide enterprise apps and support for the iPad could offset that advantage.

User opinion

IT is no longer the sole arbiter of technology decisions in most organization. Trends like BYOD and shadow IT have given managers and end users much more say in the tools they use, even allowing them to buy technology without consulting IT beforehand. Given that reality, user preference in some organizations could be a bigger deciding factor between the two devices than IT preferences.

The iPad Pro requires a greater commitment

For now, the iPad Pro requires a bigger commitment on the part of an IT organization before it can serve as a truly enterprise device. That commitment comes in the form of additional solutions and services, an app strategy tailored to the device, and an effort to rethink existing IT and business processes. Although these challenges make the Surface Pro a more attractive option at the outset, they also serve as opportunities to revisit a company's overall technology strategy, replace aging solutions with newer and more agile options, and engage business users in technology choices. All of these have the potential to deliver profound long-term benefits despite the initial challenges and costs, but they require sustained investment and commitment.

Both Apple and Microsoft have missed opportunities


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