Microsoft’s Surface for Windows RT hasn’t gotten off to a stellar start. Sales for this quarter are expected to reach less than 1M units, while initial predictions were set at between 1M and 2M. Microsoft’s plan—introduce an even more expensive tablet next year.
Analysts have attributed weak sales of Microsoft’s Surface to its hefty price tag, and the Surface Pro does little to alleviate this burden on users’ pockets.
Microsoft revealed the pricing information for its fully stocked Windows 8 Surface Pro tablet at the end of November, and the device will cost $899 for the 64GB model and $999 for the 128GB edition. While Microsoft’s forthcoming gadget boasts a fuller operating system and more storage, uses can purchase a loaded Windows 8 PC for less than this $899 price point. Many mid-range Windows 8 hybrid laptops, such as Sony’s VAIO 13.3-inch ultrabook, fall in the $600-$800 bracket.
The device will compete with the likes of Apple’s iPad, Google’s Nexus 10 and other various 10-inch tablets come 2013, although its price and features appear to be aimed at laptop buyers rather than slate shoppers. The Surface Pro’s primary issue lies in the fact that it’s too expensive to really make a splash in the market as a tablet, but it’s not impressive enough as a laptop to gain traction with PC buyers.
As ZDNet acknowledges, the Surface Pro seems like an appealing laptop/tablet hybrid for businesses, but Microsoft will have to gain a lot of market share to rival Apple in that area.
“Love it or hate it, the iPad started the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement in IT,” Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols writes. “Steve Jobs may not have had office workers in mind when he dreamed up the iPad, but the iPad has become the poster child for tablets in business.”
It’s also worth noting that the 64GB edition of Apple’s iPad with Retina Display, Wi-Fi and cellular runs users $820, which is $70 less than cheapest Surface Pro’s price. Some have argued that this may not be a fair comparison since the Surface Pro is more likely to compete against lighter laptops such as the Macbook Air. Apple’s slim sized laptop falls into a higher price range, as the 11-inch MacBook Air with 64GB of storage costs the same as Microsoft’s entry level Surface Pro.
However, a worthwhile advantage that Apple has over Microsoft is its established Macbook brand. The Surface moniker and Windows 8 in general are platforms that users are still grasping and getting acquainted with, so it's unlikely that buyers will be willing to pay nearly the same as they would for a Macbook Air or iPad.
It’s also unlikely that the average buyer would immediately compare Microsoft’s Surface Pro to a Macbook Air. Most would associate the Surface Pro with the Surface for Windows RT, labeling it as a higher-end version of Microsoft’s first tablet. While this may be true, it’s only upon closer inspection of its features that some may recognize it as a laptop alternative.
If the Surface Pro is going to be marketed as a PC substitute/tablet hybrid, it needs to have a battery that will support it as such. Microsoft has admitted that the Surface Pro will only have about half the battery life of the standard Surface, which puts it at approximately 4.5 hours.
Basically, it all boils down to this: Microsoft’s Surface Pro doesn’t seem impressive enough as a tablet or a notebook to compete, and its hefty price tag doesn’t help its case.
We get it—Microsoft is in the early stages of creating what could be a successful Surface brand, but it has yet to learn from its mistakes. There have been talks of a Surface smartphone in the works or a gaming-based tablet referred to as the Xbox Surface, and perhaps Microsoft will work out its kinks and find a strategy that works by then.
Releasing these devices may not be such a bad idea, after all Windows Phone devices are selling better than the Surface tablet, and the Xbox is one of Microsoft’s most lucrative brands.
Microsoft’s Surface Pro will be released in early 2013. For more details visit Microsoft’s official website here.
Lisa Eadicicco is a reporter covering mobile technology and video games for The International Business Times. Lisa joined the editorial team at IBT in January 2012, and has...