Microsoft Surface kicks dust in face of Apple iPad Pro in Q3

Hold on Redmond, don't light those fireworks yet, the dominance will be shortlived

Microsoft's Surface line leapfrogged Apple's iPad Pro as the detachable tablet of choice for tech distributors in Western Europe but that top spot definitely won't be sustained, or so IDC says.

The box-counter estimated that "roughly" 316,000 Surface devices were shipped into wholesalers' warehouses in Q3, up around 40 per cent year-on-year, boosted by demand for Surface Go.

The Surface Book and Surface Go accounted for 30,000 and 80,000 worth of shipments respectively, and the Pro model the remainder.

The Go – a 10-inch tab sold by retailers for around £380 – only launched in August so just two months of sales were included in the quarterly figures. It was this device that helped Microsoft capture or rent the number one place in detachables across the region.

"The more attractive price point has generated traction amongst fans of the form factor that can't afford or don't need the Pro version," IDC researcher Daniel Goncalves told The Register.

He said the specs provided a "better user experience than its 10-inch Windows-based counterparts from other brands". Consumers are the main target market, the IDC man claimed, as the price point was still just out of the reach of many IT buyers in education.

But before Microsoft cracks open the bubbly to toast its lofty position, Goncalves said he expects Apple to regain the top spot in the fourth quarter and beyond.

He said Apple's slide into second was related to refresh of the line, as it was getting channel inventory in shape for the October launch of the latest Pro.

Apple shipped 308,000 iPad Pro units in the quarter, down 40 per cent year-on-year.

That said, sales of detachables in general were relatively weak in Q3: total tablet sales in the region fell 2.9 per cent to 7.5 million. The slate form factor accounted for the majority of these shipments into the channel. Detachables, which accounted for one-fifth of the sector, declined 14.5 per cent year-on-year.

IDC said the drop was due to many buyers postponing orders to wait for product refreshes – namely, Apple. ®

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