Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Microsoft Surface

It's now been 24 hours since the introduction of the Microsoft Surface and I'm still not sure what to make of it.

First of all - I'm not sure what it is. They seemed to position it as a tablet, but it's really more of a cross between a tablet and a PC. It's pretty spec'ed out, but I am really not certain as to why they didn't announce a shipping date or pricing. Pricing is going to be really, really key. If they can keep the intel version (I personally have no interest in the ARM one) under, say $700, things could get interesting. I have to imagine they will get this right; the stakes are too high to blow it on pricing and they can afford for it to be a bit of a loss leader.

No question, the keyboard is cool as hell. Aesthetically, the whole damn thing is cool but I'm not entirely surprised; their new phones are cool, too. It's apparent that they get that in this day and age, design counts for a lot. In regards to the keyboard, I'd love to see how to works; I find it interesting that they didn't allow any demos.

The implications of this of course are huge; Microsoft just got into the hardware game (essentially conceding an important point to Apple - that in order to make world-class devices, you need to take ownership of both  hardware AND software) which is sure to piss off a lot of their partners (i.e. Acer, Dell, Lenovo, et al). It will be very interesting to see how that plays out in the coming weeks and months.

I do give them huge credit for taking a different approach and not simply introducing a me-too-ish, Android-type tablet.

From a pure PR perspective, I really didn't get the mechanics of the announcement. Not announcing the venue until the day OF the announcement? And then conducting the event at 4:00 pm PST? Strikes me as a bit illogical but clearly they were going for a lot of attention on this - and they got it - so maybe it was indeed a decent strategy. I'd love insight into their rationale though.

Anyway, the bottom line question - as the resident gadget lunatic, will I be getting one? Quite possibly, but until I understand pricing and a few more specs that were conspicuously absent from yesterday's announcement (LTE?) it's too early to tell. And that's a shame, because if they *really* followed a page from the Apple playbook (which it seems was their intent), they likely would have pre-sold thousands of orders by now. And in this game - which just got a lot more interesting - every second counts.

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