Months ago, Microsoft threw a lavish, Apple-inspired event announcing the Surface; a tablet, or a computer? “No compromises” was the message, taking shots at the restricted world of iOS apps.
Rumours abounded in the following weeks, with an article at Ars Technica1 positing a $199 price point, the destruction that would wreak, and why Microsoft shouldn’t do that.
$199 would be an aggressive price point; the greater value of a “full” 10 inch tablet, for a 7 inch price. Buy marketshare, build excitement, truly pressure Apple and Google.
Microsoft’s OEMs screamed; cries of “we can’t compete!” They couldn’t. No OEM could make a comparable tablet; the license cost alone is prohibitive. They can’t. No OEM tablet is competitive. 40% of the sales of the iPad2, no furor and excitement of an iPad release. No breathless anticipation of the Mini form factor. No leaks drawing vast swaths of coverage and speculation.
That OEM product is shoddy, cut-corner and abandoned after sale? That’s their “competition”, harming the consumer relationship. Hurting the Microsoft brand.
Microsoft would do well to ignore their OEMs; $199 ruins relationships better left behind, forges better relationships going forwards.
The cost, announced.
Starting October 18th NZDT, $499USD pre-orders a Surface RT3. $499, the price of an entry iPad. $499, a week before Apple’s iPad Mini announcement, lacking even the innovative touchtype cover.
This almost buys me an iPad 3, a very nice upgrade. Or a Nexus 7, a hundred apps, and the entire Android ecosystem. An iPad price on an unproven product; a non-existent ecosystem.
For $399, I can get an iPad 2; only 16GB, but still.
At $199, I was intrigued. As a developer, I wanted to see what I could do. An integrated keyboard, none of the frustration of an iPad Bluetooth association. One device, one cover. Integrated stand.
For portable writing, I wanted one. For $199.
Obviously, I’m certain the Surface is doomed. Microsoft has destroyed Nokia; the Lumia range sold fewer phones worldwide than Verizon did iPhones4, likely due to Windows Phone 8 announcements. A prized OEM, left for the sharks.
Yet, all reports have the Surface RT as backordered; if only the basic version. Rumours fly that only a few were available, a blatant upsell. Regardless, there is demand, interest, excitement.
Like HP, the sell-through will be minimal. OEMs will ship mediocre Windows 8 tablets, whining about competition. Surface will be an interesting diversion, run down by better players. In two weeks, when Apple has shipped the iPad 7″, will anyone remember?
Will anyone care?
I do wish for a third player, though. Google are evil, the same OEMs using their Android, the same incompetence. Apple brings a restricted world that, though I adore my Apple hardware, worries me; a future exists there without freedoms that I crave.
Microsoft’s strategy parrots Apple; their future remains much the same. Before Nokia murdered it, MeeGo would have been a brilliant contender. HP withdrew, though WebOS has been open-sourced5. Mozilla Boot To Firefox targets phones only.
Nothing beyond evil or restrictive exists. I dislike that future.
Forgot some words, added them in.