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The iPad Pro. (Apple image.)

The iPad Pro may be following in the footsteps of the Surface tablets — with its detachable keyboard, big screen and digital pen — but Apple’s new high-end device came out ahead of Microsoft’s first-party tablets in the key holiday quarter, according to new estimates released this morning by the IDC market research firm.

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Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4

Released in November, the iPad Pro sold more than 2 million units in the fourth quarter, while Microsoft sold about 1.6 million Surface devices, most of them the high-end Surface Pro and not the entry-level Surface 3 device, said Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC’s research director for tablets, in a news release this morning. The research firm said the iPad Pro was the top-selling tablet in the category known as detachables.

“With these results, it’s clear that price is not the most important feature considered when acquiring a detachable – performance is,” Bouchard said.

Last week, Microsoft said its Surface lineup reached a new peak of more than $1.37 billion in revenue in the December quarter, a 22 percent increase from the same quarter last year. That included the Surface Pro 4 tablet and also the Surface Book, the Redmond company’s first notebook computer, which wasn’t included in the tablet numbers released by IDC this morning.

Overall, Apple was the top tablet vendor for the fourth quarter, with 16.1 million units shipped, although that represented a decline of nearly 25 percent. Apple’s result compared with 9.0 million units shipped by Samsung during the quarter, which was a decline of more than 18 percent.

Amazon came in at #3 in the tablet market for the quarter, thanks to its budget Fire tablet, but IDC says it doesn’t expect the company to hold that position.

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