The following blog was written by one of my Google+ and Facebook friends Shawn P. Scott. He has offered up an interesting industry perspective on Microsoft’s new tablet platform. Check it out and feel free to share your thoughts.
“Everyone keeps talking about how the new Microsoft Surface tablet will not stand up against the iPad and is doomed to fail unless it comes in at a super cheap price point. Personally I don’t think anything could be further from the truth. First of all I don’t think the 1st gen Surface is even looking to compete with the iPad but rather target people in the market for a new laptop.
Windows 8 is a bold move on the part of Microsoft, one that will ultimately decide the fate of the company going forward. With the RTM release expected in late July or early August, time is running out for getting devices into the marketplace that truly harness it’s power. I believe Surface is just an example of how much Microsoft believes in Windows 8 and is banking on its success.
One of the most different aspect of Windows 8 is the all new touch interface for navigating around. Yes you can still use a mouse, but it’s clear that the future of Windows lies in your fingertips. This is evident with just a few minutes use of the new operating system and the only way to maximize the efficiency the new interface brings is with a touch display. I’m sure Microsoft realized this early in the development process and started thinking of ways they could promote this new change.
That is where the Surface was born. Traditional laptops are simply not the most effective way to run Windows 8, and to keep the OS from being a dud like Windows ME and Vista Microsoft needed to release a device on day 1 that could run the OS like it was designed.
Some OEM partners like Acer were upset at the move but Microsoft had no choice in the matter. They couldn’t leave the future of their company up to PC manufacturers who are struggling to make quality hardware that meets the needs of the general public. If you were to walk into the computer section Best Buy right now, you would see a sea of laptops many with the exact same specs. Most of them won’t have battery life of more than 3-4 hours. Most of them will have the barest specs necessary to keep their price down.
The 3 most popular brands at Best Buy are HP, Sony and Dell. As far as I know, none of these companies have a touchscreen device ready to be launched alongside Windows 8. HP has worked with Microsoft in the past on tablet devices and each one has been a miserable failure. Given the bad track record of Windows powered tablets, Microsoft simply could not afford to leave its fate up to ill conceived devices.
The iPad is a great device for internet consumption, but thats where it ends. College students don’t write 20 page essays on their iPads, photographers don’t edit professional level pictures on their iPads, developers don’t build sites and apps on their iPads. All of these tasks are performed on a traditional computer with the power and functionality to handle them.
This is where Windows 8 and Surface stand to shine because together they alleviate the need of owning a second device for actual work. While the RT version will only run Metro apps, the Pro version is where the sweet spot for Microsoft is. Companies may be buying iPad in large numbers, but when real work needs to be done they also have secondary devices.
In 2011 nearly 17 million laptops were shipped in the US and over 85 million worldwide. The top worldwide producers were HP (14.8 million), Dell (10.6 million) and Lenovo (10.2 million). The Surface doesn’t have to outsell the iPad to be successful, it simply needs to get Microsoft onto this list. Toshiba comes in on the lower end of this list with 4.4 million units shipped and is a prime target for Microsoft.
The reason Toshiba ranks so low on the worldwide scale is they make low quality products that don’t perform very well. If they can manage to sell 4.4 million of them, I’m quite sure Microsoft can manage to ship 5 million Surface devices that showcase the best features of Windows 8.
Right now is a horrible time to buy a new Windows PC, every single device on the market will be rendered obsolete as soon as Windows 8 hits the shelves. No one knows this better than Microsoft and they are hedging their bets on themselves.”