As the Surface line courts creatives, Apple pushes back with the iMac and iPad Pro

Apple doesn’t really talk about the Surface, but was pretty clear from yesterday’s WWDC keynote that Microsoft’s line is beginning to have a direct impact on the company. Between the iMac Pro and a rethink of iOS dedicated, in part, to bringing more functionality to the iPad Pro line, the message is clear: Apple’s not giving up any of its market share without a fight.

The Surface line started off pretty humbly – a sort of proof of concept for Windows 10. But in the last couple of years, it’s grown into something much more interesting. And a big part of that play has been an attempt to really hit Apple where it hurts – creative pros. Nowhere was that made more clear that at last year’s Windows 10 Creators Update event, in which the company focused on 3D creation and introduced the Surface Studio – an iMac competitor designed specifically with designers in mind.

This week’s introduction of the iMac Pro isn’t a radical departure for Apple – aside from a new space gray paint job, there’s no real aesthetic difference between this and the latest iMacs. But as the name pretty clearly implies, Apple is no longer worried about its all-in-one cannibalizing desktop sales.

The hardware is finally at a level where Apple can deliver real performance in the slim frame, and customers have expressed interest in using iMacs as professional devices. Besides, the company has already fessed up to the fact that it kind of painted itself into the corner with the Mac Pro, so as it goes back to the drawing board with that line, the iMac Pro offersa chance to continue to appease that user base.

The introduction of the iMac Pro echoes a similar move from Apple on the iPad front. Two-in-ones are a rare bright spot in an otherwise flat tablet market, so it opted to put its own spin on the category. Rather than reinventing the wheel, it turned up the fire power, delivered a larger screen and brought an additional input in the form of the pencil.

This week’s WWDC marks a move to make the iPad Pro line more of a productivity powerhouse, both through the launch of new hardware and iOS upgrade that brings more desktop like functionality to the system. It’s not quite the Surface line’s full Windows 10 functionality, but it does appear to be the company acknowledging that users are looking for a more robust system with their professional tablets.

Apple isn’t likely to acknowledge as much, but the company is finally seeing a legitimate competitor to its grip on the creative field. Through the Surface line, Microsoft has delivered good idea and creative solutions. And this latest round of hardware and software solutions is Apple is really starting to push back.