So the announcement came today about the ability to pre-order the Microsoft Surface RT device and the tech community has gone a little crazy with “#FAIL” including myself due to the pricing. Could this be yet another Zune moment? Jeez I hope not. Now this post is real early and I’m sure they’re rolling out stuff in stages here, so will adjust post as news comes in for sure.
If you compare this to the iPad which is its strongest competitor below…
…The prices look familiar, and yes it is $100 cheaper than the equivalent sized iPad.
Comparing the two is hard…the iPad is 3 generations in and has a HUGE market share and has a very mature marketplace full of apps. Windows Phone 7 had the same problem fighting against the iOS and Android markets due to marketplace maturity and will continue to do so with Windows Phone 8.
Not aggressive enough
There were a lot of rumors out there around the pricing, about it possibly being $300-$400 with some sort of subscription. I think this would have been a better approach for Microsoft. Do what they did with Xbox and what Sony did with Playstation and take a hit on the hardware to get some market share off of iOS and Android. The main reasons apps aren’t in the marketplace is that the user base isn’t there yet and until it is won’t be a priority. I am sick of ads that say “Download for your iOS or Android devices”. Microsoft are late to the slate party and I really hope that they come out shortly with that subscription model. It seems if they’re announcing pre-orders now though that they aren’t.
I believe that they think that the strengths over iOS is the hardware. It is the extensibility with the microSDXC card slot to give you an extra 64Gb of storage and the full-size USB port and Bluetooth 4.0 support.
The announcement states that it is available online and also in Microsoft Stores. It would be great to see these things in Best Buy, Radio Shack, and all the known US stores. For instance, not a store in NYC so I either order online…which most consumers won’t do without seeing one…or trek up to New Jersey.
Change their mind
There is this statement:
PRE-ORDER PRICE GUARANTEE
The advertised price for pre-order items may increase or decrease prior to the date the product is released to the public. However, you’ll only be charged the lowest price offered between the time you place your pre-order and the date the product is released to the public. Also, we won't charge your credit card until you download the product or we ship it to you. The Pre-Order Price Guarantee only applies to pre-order items and prices offered on the Microsoft Store. It does not apply to items and prices advertised by other sellers, prices inclusive of taxes, shipping charges, or typographical errors. For pre-order offers based on an estimated price rather than the official price, the Pre-Order Price Guarantee only applies to and will be based on the official price for the item when announced.
We can live and hope that they hear all this feedback and change their minds! I’ve already seen many comments that this device went from a “buy one for everyone in the family for Christmas” (much like the Kindle) to a “one per family” device and second priority over a new Windows 8 desktop machine.
Mode of use
From using iPads and other slates in the past, I don’t see the Surface RT as a desktop replacement, this is another form factor. Something to be used whilst traveling on “planes, trains and automobiles”, maybe when shooting around the office for meetings without lugging your laptop around and whilst chilling on the couch. Those apps are there…it has IE10 browser, it has Office 2013 RT, it has Skype, it has a movie player (for .wmv and other files), it has a music player with Xbox Music subscription support, it has Amazon Kindle reader. These are the things I have always used my existing slates for whether it be my old iPad, my old Kindle Fire, or my Samsung Series 7 slate.
I’ve been using Windows 8 since it was publically available to preview and had it on a touchscreen tablet Lenovo x220t. I spend most of my time in desktop mode…which isn’t available in Windows 8 RT. I have downloaded many apps but find myself using desktop equivalents for day to day things like e-mail, document editing, Facebook, Yammer, Twitter, LinkedIn, web surfing, PDF reading etc. The only thing I have stuck with is the media viewer for watching videos and Xbox Music.
The new ads are out, they seem to focus a lot on the “click” of the keyboard and the “kick board”. Microsoft in general have a long way to go to become “cult” status like Apple are, but I think they can do it. I can see from their marketing they are trying real hard. It appears they are leaning on their Xbox cult fans to gain some momentum.
To be honest, if I had white boarded how we compete against iOS and Android….I would have put the USB cable and media card ports a lot higher than that. There are plenty of keyboard and stand accessories out there for the competitors.
I would have also showed more than people dancing around…show some apps in use, not just the “metro” UI home screen that everyone is not convinced about yet. Show some people using the damn thing to do something useful. Have they not seen the iPad commercial where they show viewing a book, uploading images, playing music, surfing the web etc.
I would have certainly shown it plugging into USB devices and swapping in and out storage media to show its extensibility. Both things iOS have stood hard against for years. My 84 year old Nan moans about the iPad for these two things alone. I’m sure other consumers out there think the same.
Big omission of RT
The iPad 3 has a resolution of 2048×1536 and the Surface RT has 1366×768 this is quite a big difference when it comes to a lot of the workloads of a slate. Seems to be a big miss here.
The reason I bought the x220t is for OneNote plus capacitive stylus. I know its available on the pro…but imagine putting this type of stylus in the consumer hands ala how Android Note 10.2 has done. But on steriods with handwriting recognition in OneNote. This is a big decision I need to make on RT vs Pro.
One thing I love about my Kindle and is available on iPad is cellular as well as wi-fi. Seems that this is a major missing thing that is going to be a problem in countries where Wi-Fi isn’t everywhere. I mean even in NYC, it’s not perfect! An answer by Surface team on Reddit is interesting on this:
|We made what we feel is World Class WiFi connectivity. For 3G/4G we looked at several elements when deciding on what features to include. We knew that the primary use was going to be in the home, we looked at tablet sales data 2/3 WiFi, 1/3 Mobile Broadband. Of the 1/3 sold, 1/2 were activated. Phone hotspot / tethering use was also a consideration. |
What does this mean for the Surface Pro devices that will arrive in 3 months time…well you can bet they’re going to be in the $1200+ price range which will compete directly with the likes of Lenovo’s Yoga and ASUS new announced devices in the $1000+ range. Now even these devices mode of use, I think won’t be the same as a laptop, primarily due to the power of these machines, keyboard size and screen size. I can’t see someone having a smart phone, RT, Pro and a laptop/desktop. I think RT and Pro are mutually exclusive.
I will state, that I’m still going to buy one of the RT’s, purely because I love new technology and believe that the Windows 8 marketplace will mature and can take on the iOS and Android markets…but I think not through infiltration of consumer field but through infiltration of Enterprise market it has always been so strong in.
- Help me choose between RT and Pro
- Reddit discussion with Surface team – well worth a read!