Posted by: Onuora Amobi
Microsoft, Microsoft Surface, Windows 8, Windows RT
The Microsoft Surface Pro launch is just around the corner, and Microsoft needs a hit here more than ever, at least if the dark talk around the Surface RT is to be believed.
During my own time with the Surface RT, I found the device was solidly built and was truly an attractive tablet. The big downside though was Windows RT. The Surface had the potential to be a bridge between the tablet, all-in-one and laptop world, but one of the problems is the lack of quality apps that can truly replace what we need out of a full-fledged PC.
I can’t be the only one that feels this way, as slow sales for Microsoft Surface RT seem to indicate that few are buying into the Surface, despite its solid look, feel and advertising. So exactly how many Surface RT tablets have been sold? That’s a good question, and it seems to depend on who you ask.
At Microsoft’s recent press call, no numbers were dropped for the Surface RT. Sure, the actual quarter results were strong, but Surface was oddly left out of most of the conversation.
Luckily, analysts are helping fill in the gaps, the problem is that the estimate is pretty wide open. On the high-side, we’ve heard around 1 million Surface RT sales in the last quarter according to Barron’s estimate.
As for Citigroup, the number is a little less around 700,00 and 800,000. Then we have Goldman Sachs Heather Bellini. According to this analyst, the numbers could really be as paltry as 230,000 slates so far.
Again, these are estimates and only Microsoft knows what is really going on. Regardless, the Surface RT isn’t as big as a hit as Microsoft wanted. So what does that mean for the future of the Surface brand?
Going forward with the Surface brand.
The Surface RT might not have been a runaway hit, but it certainly doesn’t have to end here. The Surface PRO is on its way and it largely corrects one of the Surface RT’s biggest issues: x86 compatibility.
To be fair, not everyone cares about x86 legacy apps on a tablet. The iPad and Android tablets just have mobile apps after all, and they continue to be pushed into the business world and beyond. The difference here though is that Windows Store is NOT in the same league as Apple or Google’s store-fronts, at least not yet.
Windows Store is still missing many popular social networking, productivity, entertainment and gaming apps. Having traditional Windows support helps fill in many of these gaps though, and offers consumers a way to “ditch their laptops”.
That’s the bottom-line, and as I stated in another article, the key to the future of computing is to create a mobile device with enough storage space, power and flexibility that you don’t need a home PC, laptop and tablet.
So, home run. It’s all over and the Surface Pro wins, right? It isn’t that simple. The Surface Pro has its own obstacles to overcome.
Obstacles ahead for the Surface PRO
What’s the in the way? Having a larger storage size, the ability to play nice with the touch cover and the power of Windows 8 is a good start, but that’s only if you ignore some of the problems under the surface (pun intended).
First is price. Don’t get me wrong, $800 for a device that can replace both your laptop and your tablet isn’t expensive. From the components to other aspects, it is a value. That doesn’t matter though, its all about perceived value from the customer. Video game consoles are generally worth many HUNDREDS more than the sell for, but a consumer wouldn’t pay its actual valued price, they expect more than that. Same with tablets like the Surface Pro I would wager. The price just doesn’t ring well with consumers.
Sure, its no different than the higher-sized iPads really, but the big difference is consumers consider these “established devices” and customers are more often willing to pay premiums for such products. Microsoft’s price is just too high if they want more than a niche appeal with the Surface Pro.
If Microsoft was to sell at a much shorter profit margin and instead rely on services like Windows Store to make the difference, they could probably sell the Surface Pro for around $600-$675. At that price, Surface Pro as your “everything device” becomes all the more compelling and would find a market both for business and casual users.
Price isn’t the only obstacle here.
Recently at my website, one of my staff writers reported on the Surface Pro’s pre-installed software taking up a massive 45GB. While the Surface Pro starts at 64GB, when you have to remove 45GB from the equation you are left with 19GB. 19GB for a device that is supposed to work as your mobile solution while also powering programs like PhotoShop and AutoCad? That’s not going to cut it.
With Apple announcing its own larger storage iPad (128GB), the 19GB for the Surface Pro 64GB model and working 88GB for the 128GB become a whole lot less appealing. Of course you do get microSD for expansion with the Surface Pro, so that’s a redeeming fact that’s worth mentioning.
The race for a “be all, do all” computing solution is on.
Google isn’t quite there, with Chrome or Android. Apple is continuing to push ahead with iOS and the Mac. Microsoft is almost there but can’t quite get everything lined up. The Surface Pro is a step in the right direction, and hopefully the second generation of Surface hardware brings them the rest of the way.
What do you think, is the Surface Pro set up for great success than the Surface RT has seen so far or does its size and price limitations stand in its way?