It seems that sales of the Surface RT are disappointing thus far, and that none of the Windows tablets currently on the market have really caught the attention of businesses or consumers. But, the potential is there, and Microsoft has a huge opportunity to grab a significant share of the tablet market.
According to some estimates, there’s a market of 200 million customers out there who want a Windows device for their next tablet. A Forrester Research Study of 10,000 people around the world found that 33 percent would prefer a Windows tablet for their next work tablet. Extrapolating that 33 percent based on the information workers market–not the overall tablet market in general–Forrester arrives at a number of 200 million.
The reality is that the number is bigger than that if Microsoft and it’s partners position and market the tablets properly. Forrester projects that the number of tablets in use will be approaching a billion by 2017. Using the same 33 percent, that would mean a potential market of more than 330 million for Windows tablets.
Many of the third-party OEMs–Dell, Lenovo, etc.–have introduced innovative hybrid devices that try to be a traditional laptop and a tablet at the same time. I have played with a Samsung ATIV tablet which has a portable docking station that essentially turns it into an ultrabook. Those all have their pros and cons, but they also all miss the boat. The problem is that none of them is ever really a tablet when you’re on the go.
So, what’s the magic trick to tapping that market? Instead of showing commercials with random flash mobs of people clicking and dancing around with their Surface RT tablets, Microsoft needs to demonstrate that a Windows PC is a tablet, and a Windows tablet is a PC.
There should be commercials showing two different scenarios. First, the guy who has a Windows PC at his desk, but takes his iPad (or <insert alternate tablet here>) when he goes mobile. Illustrate–no, exaggerate (it’s a commercial after all)–the frustration of having to find alternative apps to do the same things you do on your computer, and the hoops to jump through to access the data stored back on your PC, and the pain of trying to sync the information between the two. You get the idea.
Then, show someone with a Windows 8 Pro tablet in a docking station at their desk. She has it connected to a standard keyboard, and a mouse or touchpad. It’s connected to a 24-inch monitor with a webcam mounted on top. It’s connected to a printer, and gigabit Ethernet. Basically, show that her Windows 8 Pro tablet works and acts EXACTLY like the first guy’s Windows PC. Then show her grab the tablet from the dock to go to the same meeting as the first guy. But, she still has all of her applications and data. She doesn’t have to jump through any hoops. There is nothing to sync because she is still using the same computer.
Microsoft needs to shift the conversation. It’s not about whether or not a tablet can replace a PC. Windows 8 Pro tablets remove the distinction between PC and tablet so that one device is both at once. The Microsoft marketing tagline–which should also be used by all Windows 8 tablet vendors like the “Intel Inside” mantra–should simply be, “Windows 8: The Tablet *IS* the PC“.