Cock fight? Not half. Microsoft beats down Apple in Q1

Biz tab sales stakes - the winner and the iPad Pro

Microsoft won bragging rights over Apple in Britain’s biz slab sales stakes following the first full quarter the two rivals went head to head with their Pro devices.

The iPad Pro, released in last October, sold 107,000 units in the UK in Q1 versus 275,000 Surface Pro devices, which was up on the 83,000 units Microsoft flogged in the year-ago quarter.

“One of the problems facing Apple is price, the other is familiarity and applications,” said Tim Coulling, senior analyst at Canalys, in trying to explain why Redmond’s fondler came out on top.

The Surface is an “easier sell” to businesses because of compatibility with the existing corporate infrastructure. “It is a difficult market for Apple,” said the analyst, echoing previous comments from Forrester about the mobile app gap.

Apple resellers have told us that price remains a hurdle for the Pro: “People don’t necessarily want to pay the price and aren’t that impressed with the pen,” said one. “Business customers want the iPad Air and education customers the Mini.”

Microsoft released its first fondler in 2012 and it has taken four iterations to address the issues users had and to tweak its sales strategy by widening distribution. In comparison, Apple was playing catch up and only released the Pro version in the Autumn.

Business sales for tabs are more important than ever as shipments in the wider tab market have continued to slow down; they fell eight per cent in Q1 to 1.8 million units. Why? Saturation.

Most people that want to own a tab already have one and there is no compelling reason to upgrade, said Canalys. Apple topped the total tab market with 500,000 units followed by Samsung with 333,800. Both firms declined by doubled digits.

The total PC market - including tabs - declined 8.6 per cent to 4.1 million units. Notebooks were down 11 per cent to 1.5 million sales and desktops were down seven per cent to 660,000. Two-in-ones or detachable grew four per cent to 140,000.

The consumer segment was where the slowdown was felt hardest, said Coulling. As such, Acer sales dropped 20 per cent to 152,000, and Toshiba - which is pulling out of consumer PC tech in Europe - reported sales of 126,000, down from 231,000.

Shipments from market top dog HP Inc and close second runner Lenovo were flat; Dell declined to 300,000 from 320,000.

“Some business people are replacing equipment, they are looking at new form factors. It is very hard to make much margin on consumer PCs,” said Coulling. ®

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