Apple recently announced a new, smaller version of its popular iPad Pro range – but are the best days for this ground-breaking tablet now behind it?

A 12.9-inch version of the iPad Pro was first announced in September 2015, before going on sale two months later. Then, in March this year, Apple unveiled a smaller version, measuring 9.7 inches, which it began shipping just 10 days after launch. The upgraded model features a faster CPU, improved LCD display, better camera and more besides. You’d therefore expect the company to be in confident mood, but all may not be so rosy in Apple’s orchard. In fact, many analysts and forecasters are predicting that the iPad Pro’s days of dominance may be numbered.

The emergence of a new business favourite                                 

Of course, for the iPad to be toppled off its perch, a viable contender needs to emerge – and this might just be the Microsoft Surface. Admittedly, the iPad Pro is still outselling the Surface Pro (by 1.9 million units to 1.6 million units), but these figures only tell half the story. Most importantly, Apple’s figures are largely stagnating, whilst for Microsoft the number is growing. If these trajectories continue, it won’t be long before they meet – or, indeed, Microsoft takes the lead.

The market responsible for driving this change is the professional one. iPads may still be in demand among home users, but business people appear to be growing increasingly frustrated with their limitations. For while Apple offers domination in terms of both music and media, the Surface is more adept at running full-blown software applications (including Office, Sage accounts, Adobe products and more), making it a much more attractive business proposition.

Many have found the Microsoft Surface to be the ultimate hybrid, delivering on its ‘all-in-one’ objective of being a fully functional PC, laptop and a tablet. One reviewer commented “it’s the tool you’ll never leave at home or at work, because it’s essential to both”.

Of course, Apple won’t be going away just yet. The iPad range is still hugely popular with many users and looks set to remain so for quite some time to come. The company’s challenge, however, might lie in its ability to compete more effectively with other Pro devices. Whatever happens, this competition can only be a good thing – as customers (be they commercial or domestic) are certain to be the ones to benefit.