Microsoft, here is your mission. Take a device which has become synonymous with the term “post-PC era” and topple it. Go up against a company which is considered cool and somehow transform your image to be as cool. If you decide to accept this mission you must take your reputation for developing bloated operating systems and software and scale it all down to run in a tablet form factor where a person can use the device for an entire day without recharging. Furthermore, you have to eliminate the blue screen of death or BSOD – the tablet has to work. It must be as reliable as a cell phone. It can’t crash. Moreover, it can’t have monthly updates due to security holes which slow the device to a crawl. There is no possibility to run antivirus software constantly – the device has to be protected inherently but at the same time open in-contrast to Apple.
Oh yes, and it needs to be cheap – as cheap as the iPad. Moreover it has to unseat the iPad which is now being given away to restaurant and hotel customers by the thousand.
It must also have an app ecosystem in the hundreds of thousands and it needs to be so easy to use that the user manual doesn’t even need to be printed. It must seamlessly integrate music, movies, Microsoft Office, work with enterprise device management systems and be a pleasure to use.
Microsoft knows the mission and now we know the price of the Microsoft Surface tablet. As many predicted, it will be $499 for a 32 GB version which is the same price as the 16 GB iPad. Before you get very excited about all the spare memory you will have, it is worth considering the Microsoft Windows RT could require a great deal more space than Apple’s iOS.
The keyboards are additional and cost $119.99 or $129.99 – obviously Microsoft thinks they are worth the premium price and perhaps they are, especially if surface is a laptop replacement. The Surface marketing campaign ad is really great – very youth oriented with awesome music but it still doesn’t show how the product works. But it does inspire emotions of passion, excitement and energy. These are exactly the feelings the company needs potential consumers to experience.
Recently I wrote a piece critical of Steve Ballmer’s Apple fighting strategy and I still believe I am 100% right in my assertion that he didn’t outline the risk inherent in the company’s new direction. But I am sure in response he would say the Surface line will be a success and will inspire people to buy more Microsoft products such as phones and Ultrabooks.
From Redmond’s perspective there is no choice but to drive forward. I am 100% sure the pricing so far is right on – you had to go head to head with the iPad. And the commercial is exactly right – it hits the demographic squarely.
Will all this be enough to sell the 3-5 million Microsoft hopes to sell in its first quarter? We’ll have to wait and see if customers accept their mission to purchase so many of these new devices.