Back in 2007 RIM’s BlackBerry was the de facto business phone, Nokia reigned supreme, Microsoft was a force to deal with, and Motorola owned itself. Even change is more certain than death and taxes.
Speaking of death, guess who Microsoft decided to kill? Yes, the Windows maker has a couple of new toys to ride the wave of handheld devices into the 21st century.
Microsoft Builds An iPad Wannabe
Five years after the iPhone was introduced, Apple has become the most profitable technology company in the world, the iPhone and iPad are runaway successes.
What of the competition? Nokia is beleaguered. RIM is beleaguered. Motorola was so beleaguered that Google bought them. Only Microsoft is fighting back.
The Windows maker just announced two tablet devices called Surface. One is a thin and lightweight touch tablet that runs Windows 8 with touch capability. The other is an even thinner iPad-like tablet which runs Windows RT (a tablet version of Windows).
The Windows 8 tablet is thicker and heavier than an iPad, but the Windows RT table is similar in size to Apple’s tablet, but has a slightly larger, longer screen.
Microsoft hasn’t provided many details for either tablet, though both have a thin, magnetically attached cover which acts as a keyboard. The larger tablet will come with 64 GB and 128 GB of flash storage, while the smaller version will be available in 32 GB and 64 GB versions.
Availability and pricing is unknown, but the tablets are expected to ship in limited quantities about the time Windows 8 ships later this year (or, next).
What does Surface mean? It means Microsoft is desperately playing catch up to Apple. The Windows maker has had precious little success selling Windows Phone 7 to any smart phone manufacturer except beleaguered Nokia.
After 10 years in the tablet business, Microsoft was completely smoked by Apple’s hot selling iPad. Since the iPad’s launch Microsoft has tried to sell a tablet OS to PC manufacturer’s with no success.
Even Google’s free Android OS has not done well selling tablets, so Microsoft found itself between a big rock and a deep, dark hard spot as Apple’s iPhone and iPad combo continue to bring the company growing sales and huge profits.
Microsoft had to do something to compete and do it fast. Remember the Zune? That was Microsoft’s home-built version of an iPod killer, rolled out because Microsoft’s portable media player partners couldn’t manufacture anything to compete with Apple.
So it is with the Surface tablets. PC manufacturers have balked at Microsoft’s anemic tablet efforts while the iPad reigns supreme. Even Google is in the smart phone and tablet manufacturing business with the Motorola purchase, much to the dismay of their so-called Android OS partners.
How long before Microsoft decides to design, build, and ship a reference PC for Windows; a device that competes head-to-head with Apple’s svelte, fast-selling, and highly profitable MacBook line?
It could happen. Look how much has changed in the past five years.
Microsoft has received a measure of praise for Windows Phone 7 as being different than competitors, and some say ‘better‘ than either Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android OS. Sales are a different story, though, and Windows Phone, even as the flagship for Nokia, hasn’t gained sales traction.
The problem is that Windows Phone isn’t better than either iOS or Android OS. It’s merely different and not enough to capture the eye of customers enamored with the industry leaders.
Time will tell how well Microsoft’s Surface fares against stiff competition, but clearly Microsoft is feeling the pressure brought on by a resurgent Apple.