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Microsoft CEO laughs at Apple for making iPad Pro like Surface

Technically Incorrect: Satya Nadella says it's remarkable how its competition has decided that two-in-ones aren't like mixing a toaster and a refrigerator.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Throwing a little jab?

Stephen Brashear, Getty Images

Words can come back to haunt you.

Sometimes, they even slap you about the chops while sniggering: "Heh, heh, heh."

And so it is that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has taken some of Tim Cook's words and gently wafted them right back at him.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, Nadella mused on the increasing success of the Surface.

He painted it as an example of Microsoft's risk-taking nature. He also contrasted this attitude with that of his competitors.

"Three years ago, the two-in-one as a form factor was questioned," he said. "Does anybody need one? And now guess what, even our competition has decided that it's not a refrigerator and a toaster, but it's actually a two-in-one."

Actually, it was four years ago. Should you not be familiar with the subtext here, Cook was on a 2012 earnings call when he mused about hybrid computers. He said converging two different products involved too many trade-offs.

Then he added, quite immortally: "You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going be pleasing to the user."

This may not have been quite right. Indeed, in its August launch of the iPad Pro, Apple expressly claimed that it was a computer. Which confused a lot of people, as Apple had always insisted it was a tablet.

At the time, Microsoft couldn't help emitting a guffaw in the form of an ad whose message was -- my paraphrase -- "Yo, Apple. Please do shove it."

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Nadella, though, is projecting some confidence. He explained to the Financial Review that you have to make room for failures. Not everything will work.

And sometimes, you have to take the jokes for a while before you suddenly get imitated.

I cannot confirm that Jony Ive is already working on a revolutionary refrigerator/toaster design. Still, it took a very long time for NFL announcers to stop calling a Surface an iPad.

So perhaps both companies have a little work to do here.