Increasing availability isn’t going to help Microsoft much…
I’ve been in computing since computing was done with cassette recorders. I may have just dated myself, perhaps a bit too much, but I’ve been in the game since before Microsoft was Microsoft and before Apple was Apple. I understand a bit about the challenges that MS is facing right now, and honestly, they’re blowing it. They really are. Here’s why…
As far as the tablet game is concerned, there are really two players…Just two, kids. That’s it – Apple and their arch nemesis, Samsung. As much as Google with their Nexus 7 and Asus with their Transformer and other vendors with their <pick a product> may want to say they’re a contender, they’re not. Apple is the defacto leader here. They wrote the book on tablets with the introduction of their iconic iPad. Their ecosystem was designed to lock users in; and their elegant industrial designs attract more and more users everyday. Its going to be hard for them to blow this gig.
Samsung is really the only real successful Android tablet maker in my mind. Their Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note lines of tablets have set the bar on the Google side of the house and have left nearly every other tablet in the dust, including Google’s own Nexus branded offering, in my opinion. They’ve really set the bar here. Yes, the Amazon Kindle line of tablets is a serious contender, but the way they’ve positioned their products and structured their ecosystem, there’s not much room for innovation in my opinion.
There are really no other tablet platform offerings; or at least there weren’t until Microsoft introduced Windows 8 and Windows RT and their Surface branded tablets. Microsoft had a real opportunity here. They had a chance to establish themselves as a real contender in the tablet arena. They blew it when they priced their tablets higher than most of their hardware partners are pricing their value-line laptops.
There have been a lot of stories in the media lately about how MS never intended Surface to be a direct competitor with Apple, and how they don’t want it widely distributed. I’m not buying that. I would think that they would want the tablets, both Surface RT and Surface Pro devices, in as many retail locations and end users hands as possible. Their recent activities to make Surface tablets available at other retail/POS outlets contradicts what the media is reporting.
I honestly don’t get the strategy behind what MS is doing with Surface RT and Surface Pro. If given the opportunity, I’d make them dirt cheap and get them in as many end users hands as possible. I’d even provide device subsidies back to their hardware partners to help them lower the prices of their RT and Pro devices, too.
In my opinion, the only way Microsoft can establish themselves as a serious tablet player is to flood the market with extremely affordable, competitively performing devices. Apple and Samsung, heck even Amazon, are too much in command of the tablet market right now for Surface NOT to be taking this tactic. The only way MS makes headway is to make them a cost competitor, and unfortunately…they didn’t do that.
It’s a disappointment, because I think they’ve likely marketed themselves into a corner, and recovering from that is going to be difficult for them. Increasing availability won’t help. Lowering the price and making it a more attractive purchasing decision…? Yeah. That will help.