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'Fierce rivals' Apple and Microsoft 'need each other'

Published 10/09/2015

Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses the new iPad during the Apple event in San Francisco (AP)
Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses the new iPad during the Apple event in San Francisco (AP)

The fierce rivalry between Apple and Microsoft has stopped being about "winning and losing" because the two technology giants need each other, an industry expert has said.

When Microsoft executive Kirk Koenigsbauer walked on stage at Apple's latest product launch in San Francisco, the relationship between the two firms changed, according to Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight.

At the event, Apple unveiled a third version of the iPad - the iPad Pro - which looks set to take on Microsoft's Surface Pro 3.

But despite the competition, Mr Wood said Microsoft needed to work with its rival.

Mr Wood said: "It is not about winning or losing - the new Microsoft has woken up to the fact it has to embrace all platforms to be successful."

He added that it was "extraordinary that Apple have got themselves into a position where Microsoft thought a public show of support was important".

"A few years ago, hell would have frozen over before Microsoft endorsed Apple so publicly, but their business model is changing." he said.

Apple's chief Tim Cook called the iPad Pro the "biggest news in iPad since the iPad" as he unveiled the device live on stage.

The iPad Pro will have a 12.9 inch screen with more than five million pixels, a keyboard and a stylus called the Apple Pencil.

A UK price is yet to be confirmed but it will go on sale in November.

Mr Koenigsbauer's job was to show what Microsoft's Office software could do on Apple's new device, a move away from competing directly with Apple on hardware. editor Michael Rundle said: "Apple and Microsoft are fierce rivals, but they need each other.

"Apple makes the most popular mobile hardware in the world, and Microsoft makes Office, the world's most-used enterprise software.

"The reality in 2015 is that Microsoft's long-term survival as a major player depends on people using its products, on the devices they love."

Apple also unveiled the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, which both come with a pressure-sensitive screen that uses technology called 3D Touch, where applying more or less pressure to a tap opens new shortcuts.

The new iPhones will go on sale on September 25, with pre-orders for the devices beginning on September 12, starting at £539 for 6s and £619 for the 6s Plus.

But some have been critical of this latest offering.

Mr Wood said: "Apple is the powerhouse that keeps on rolling.

"But its fair to say even Apple is struggling to meet people's expectations."

Mr Rundle agreed, saying: "Anyone who watched the original iPhone announcement and thought to themselves, 'this is a moment in history' will be a bit disappointed by this latest launch.

"But we can't expect massive technological advance every time, increasingly it has become about refinement: devices that are faster, have better cameras, but don't represent a huge change for consumers."

Apple may not be revealing advances that warrant front-page news, he said, but they continued to make headlines because people looked to them for leadership - whether willingly or unwillingly.

"Apple launches have become a huge event culturally, although that might not always be the case," Rundle said.

"But at the moment, Apple launches have a sense of style and panache that others struggle to match."

At the event, a much rumoured Apple TV revamp was also confirmed, with Apple's voice assistant technology Siri now integrated to use in searches.

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