I think Microsoft’s Marketing department just let out a collective “aw fuck.” I know I would if I were part of the group charged with marketing these things.
Nevermind the fact that Surface was previously a giant multitouch display/table thing that Microsoft and Samsung were selling… (the new PixelSense name for that product kind of sucks though, I have to say). The pair of Surface tablets that Microsoft announced yesterday are probably their best entry into this market so far. And while I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Windows 8 right now (having only tried the developer beta or whatever version came out a couple months back) I can say that would be interested in at least trying the Metro UI on a tablet device at some point. It makes FAR more sense in that environment.
I see a few “issues” with this product announcement though. First of all, that’s all it was… an announcement. “Hey, we’re going to start making these things.” And that’s kind of it. I’d be willing to bet something in saying that Microsoft only wanted to get this thing into the media prior to Google I/O kicking off next week (where Google is expected to announce its own “Nexus” tablet of some sort).
There are not many specific specs - which obviously are going to be changing somewhat as they near the actual product launch in a few months. There’s no battery life numbers. Again… lots of time to improve/tweak that. And possibly the most important part… there are no prices. Just random references to other products on the market.
And let’s not forget that there are actually two very different products here. The Surface RT device is basically the iPad competitor of the pair. The specs we know so far are on par with what the current competition is offering and I would expect it to be priced as such. If they can’t match the $500 price point here with the RT, they’ve already lost. And IMO, they should be shooting for less if they want to penetrate this market at all.
The “Surface for Windows 8 Pro” version, aside from having a stupid name, is basically a very slim PC that doesn’t fold up (hence the pricing reference to Ultrabooks). Though the fancy keyboard covers are pretty neat. Think of this one as a dockable tablet that is (should be?) a fully functioning PC. I’d expect pricing of this one to be $800+ given the Ultrabook comparison. However… if they market the Pro version as a tablet, it will fail.
Regular consumers looking for a portable device similar to the iPad that everyone knows about are not going to consider an $800+ tablet that’s bigger and heavier (the Pro model is larger and heavier than an iPad) and significantly more expensive than the iPad (or other Android device) regardless of what kind of crazy specs it has.
That’s what the RT model is for. Market the shit out of that thing as a tablet to the average consumer. They’ll need to be a bit more specific and direct with the Pro version. This device is for people who want the usability of a touch device and the portability of a laptop with the full function of a PC and Windows applications. I feel like this is a pretty limited group of people.
I’m sure there are many of them out there – but I feel like Microsoft needs to be very careful in how they push this thing. Of course all of this could be completely irrelevant in another week after Google announces whatever they’re working on. But we have no idea what that really will be yet.
And if not then, it could be irrelevant in 3-4 months when this Surface device actually hits the stores and everyone has forgotten about it… The only thing people are going to be doing now is asking questions – which while usually a good thing to generate interest, if there are no answers to those questions, that interest will start to fall off. Quickly.