Future iPad killer or another also-ran in
the tablet war?
More than a decade ago, Bill Gates
predicted that tablets would outpace PC usage in the United States within a
timespan of five years. His timing was obviously off, but his idea was on the right
track. Tablets have yet to outsell PCs, but it's easy to see how that could
iPad killer or another also-ran in the tablet war?
Microsoft is no stranger to tablets. Back
in 2001, Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates also predicted that tablets would
become the most popular forms of computers sold in the United states within
five years. Tablets still haven't overtaken PCs, but they finally have the
momentum—thanks to Apple, not Microsoft. While Microsoft was definitely the
king of PCs, they can't claim the same for tablets. They don't even have one on
the market yet, despite Gates' having made that claim eleven years ago.
Apple was the first to storm the tablet
market, and that's exactly what they did—they took it by storm. It turned the
other hardware companies into also-rans. Everyone talks about getting an iPad,
but you don't hear as many people talking about Galaxys. They talk about the
Kindle Fire, but it has more to do with the fact it can do double as both a
tablet and a reader.
is now ready to make their foray into the tablet market with the Microsoft
Surface. Is it too late for them?
Microsoft is now ready to make their foray
into the tablet market with the Microsoft Surface. Is it too late for them?
Have they already lost the potential audience? Certainly Microsoft fans have
already bought tablets, deciding not to wait until they could buy one with a
Windows-type of software running it.
After waiting this long, Microsoft needs to
offer a compelling tablet. If they want to tap into the audience that Apple
created, the Surface needs to be impressive. What they're offering is something
a little different. It's a tablet, but with the addition of options normally
found within laptops.
This seems like it would be the best of both
worlds. The ease of a tablet, with the workhorse nature of a laptop. That's
exactly what I'm looking for however, I've already got all that. And as an
Apple product user since 1989, there is no way I would make the switch. I use
my iPad with a keyboard/ cover/stand. When it's set up, it resembles a laptop.
I have all the ease of use that comes with an iPad including the iOS software,
which I prefer to OS X.
So what are these great features of the
Microsoft Surface? For one thing it comes with a stand. It also has a removable
cover. It actually features two different choices, one that has a keyboard
imprinted on the inside of it with separations for the different keys, and
another with actual keys. For people like me who are fast touch typists,
Apple's screen keyboard is too hard to use. It slows me down. That's why I
added a keyboard to it. It sounds like Microsoft has noticed that missing in
the iPad and decided to make up for it. But the Surface still has a screen
keyboard like the iPad, so there are different choices. Additionally it has a
USB port. I can't tell you how many times I've wished for that on my iPad.
Since there are people like me who use an
iPad as a laptop, and others who use it more as just a large mobile device, Microsoft
is putting two versions on the market, the Surface RT and the Surface. One will
run on the upcoming Windows 8, and the other on Windows RT. Instead of
expecting one device to fulfill both needs, they developed two separate ones.
been mentioned that one of the struggles for the Microsoft Surface community
will be with the apps
Those who have tried the Surface report
that it seems a little slow and that the touchscreen gestures seem too
difficult to remember and navigate. That just seems wrong for anything
connected to Windows. Admittedly, things have changed a lot over the past
twenty years in terms of technology. Once, PCs were considered the
"go-to" devices for things like number crunching and if you wanted
good graphics, you went with a Mac. Yet somehow they're trying to keep up with
Apple and are losing some of that speed they had been known for.
However, what Microsoft is doing better
than Apple is that they're making it easier to create and manage documents.
Additionally, you can run multiple apps side by side, a feature that is sorely
lacking on the iPad. I can't tell you how often I have wished for that. The
most the iPad can offer is apps that do double duty, such as a browser that can
double as a notepad.
It's been mentioned that one of the
struggles for the Microsoft Surface community will be with the apps. Since
they're starting late in the game, they have a lot of catching up to do. For
me, an admitted app connoisseur, that would be a huge drawback. I have so much
available to me now that I wouldn't want to "step down" with only a
few apps while I wait for developers to catch up.
the prices of these tablets are comparable to the iPad, Microsoft will need
another reason to coerce people into choosing the Surface over the iPad, Fire,
The prices of these two versions of the
Surface are comparable to what's already on the market, and that seems to be
very puzzling. One of the reasons consumers end up with a PC instead of a Mac
is because it is cheaper. With the expected release of the Surface being months
away, we don't know exactly what the price will be yet, but they are saying it
will be "comparable". If the prices of these tablets are comparable
to the iPad, Microsoft will need another reason to coerce people into choosing
the Surface over the iPad, Fire, or Galaxy.
It appears as if Microsoft is breaking with
its traditional definition of its "brand", as a foray into the tablet
market is quite a different direction for the Seattle based software giant.
With Apple, their branding has stayed consistent. Visually, the devices are
always extremely attractive, and they always feature an ease of use. The prices
may be more than you would pay for something similar, but you know you're
getting the top of the line.
Tablets are supposed to be quick and easy,
portable, and cheaper than a PC alternative. Microsoft is failing at some of
these, mostly in the software end. While they're doing great things that are
needed on the iPad, they're failing at some of the things Microsoft consumers
look for. What will the Microsoft community, their loyal customers, think? Will
they be willing to abandon the iPads that they've been using for a year or two
to now pick up the Surface?
Microsoft took a huge gamble by entering
the battle this late in the game. The advantage comes from being able to
compensate for mistakes that Apple has made in its product rollout. They've
fixed and changed some of those things to entice more of the market. The
disadvantages are that to do all of this, they are abandoning some of their
branding principles, and by waiting so long to be able to identify the areas of
the tablet that were in need of changing, it may already be too long of a wait.
They might have lost the war before it started.