Smaller MS Surface – What it Needs to Succeed

For MS to make a difference in the tablet market, it needs to think about how it approaches its smaller

Microsoft-Surface-RT7Adrian Kingsley-Hughes had a good article published on ZDNet the morning of 16-May-2013 speaking about how price, not size, is going to determine the success or failure of Microsoft’s rumored 7″ Surface tablet. He’s right; but I think there’s more to it than just price. There are 3 areas that MS has to address, not just 1:

PriceLet’s be clear, as Kingsley-Hughes goes into great detail in his article – Surface RT stars at $499. Surface Pro starts at $899. The iPad mini and Kindle Fire HD are similarly sized tablets that have starting prices of $329 and $199 respectively. For this tablet to be successful, the 7″ Surface needs to be priced under $300; but seriously, the lower priced the better.
Windows RT not Windows 8The 7″ Surface should be a content consumption device and NOT a small ultrabook like its larger Surface RT and Surface Pro siblings. In order to hit the lower price points I’ve outlined above, the device needs to shy away from x86 microprocessors. They’re too expensive and don’t provide enough storage or battery life.The smaller tablets are more appropriate as a content consumption device – media players, eBook readers and the like – as opposed to a very small ultrabook. In order to make sure this happens and happens well, Windows RT needs a fundamental change. It needs to be more tablet-centric as opposed to Windows-centric. Windows RT needs to lose Desktop mode and most – if not all – of its familiar desktop Windows paradigm elements. Windows RT needs to be a tablet specific OS. The sooner it does this, the better off it will be; and the better chance it has to being accepted by a Windows familiar public.
Nook or Not; and if Not, then What?There’s been some speculation that Microsoft would buy all of the Nook digital assets from B&N. There are a number of different reasons on both sides of the issue – for and against – the acquisition of the assets as well as developing a version of Windows RT that will run on the ARM-based Nook tablets.If MS does buy the Nook digital assets and doesn’t modify Windows RT to run on the Nook (which may actually be the 7″ Surface tablet we’ve heard about…), then it doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to acquire the assets, at least in my opinion. If they don’t buy Nook, then you really have to wonder what new hardware device is going to be introduced to the market. It also calls into question the price and OS version concerns I’ve outlined above.

Microsoft has a lot of hoops to jump through to make a 7″ Surface tablet work for them. Time will tell if they get it right.

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