Microsoft is venturing deeper into the mobile industry with its upcoming Surface tablet, set for an Oct. 26 release date along its next-gen operating system, Windows 8. The official price for the Surface tablet still remains a mystery, but Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has shared some insight as to the role of cost when it comes to determining a device's quality.
Apple's line of tablets is dominating the tablet industry, with the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's iPad owning 68 percent of the worldwide tablet market share as of June 2012. These are the statistics that Apple CEO Tim Cook used to poke fun at Google and Amazon's tablet sales at last week's iPhone 5 event, revealing that these companies collectively only claim 32 percent of the tablet market share.
Microsoft will soon be lumped into this category, labeled as "Other," competing against Google, Amazon and Apple to offer the best bang for your buck when it comes to tablet purchases. However, according to Ballmer, competitive pricing means that users could be getting a compromised tablet experience.
"I think most people would tell you that the iPad is not a superexpensive device," the Microsoft CEO said in an interview with the Seattle Times. "[When] people offer cheaper, they do less. They look less good, they're chintzier, they're cheaper."
When asked if the Surface tablet's price would compete with Apple's cost for the iPad, Ballmer hinted that the upcoming Windows 8 tablet's pricing would match higher-end devices on the market.
"If you say to somebody, 'Would you use one of the 7-inch tablets, would somebody ever use a Kindle [Kindle Fire, $199] to do their homework?' The answer is no; you never would," Ballmer said to the Seattle Times. "It's just not a good enough product. It doesn't mean you might not read a book on it...If you look at the bulk of the PC market, it would run between, say, probably $300 to about $700 or $800. That's the sweet spot."
Ballmer's words contradict previous rumors that have popped up across the Web concerning the Surface's price. An "inside source" told Engadget that a session was held in August at Microsoft's TechReady15 conference that laid out the company's release details for the Surface. This meeting indicated that Microsoft's Surface for Windows RT would have a price tag of $199.
Windows RT is a term used to describe Microsoft's ARM-based tablets, which are Windows devices catered towards consumers. These RT devices have lower prices and better battery life, while a second group of devices, simply called Windows 8, runs on Intel processors and is geared towards businesses.
Microsoft's Surface tablet is just one way the long-time tech giant is reinventing itself from the ground up for 2012. With a new operating system and slew of mobile devices, including two new Nokia Windows Phone 8 handsets, debuting simultaneously next month, the fall is a crucial period for Microsoft. However, Ballmer seems ready to dive right into the Windows 8 release, withholding no doubts about its success.
When asked what the plan is if Windows 8 is a flop, Ballmer replied saying that Microsoft does not need a plan B.
"You know, Windows 8 is going to do great," he said to the Seattle Times. "I'm not paid to have doubts. I don't have any. It's a fantastic product."