Well, that’s the common belief of certified technorati elite who welcome Microsoft’s newly minted ability to create products that people, well, seem to like. The profit jury is still deliberating the case, but I see a common fly in Microsoft’s new ointment.
Android Is Windows
First, a little rundown on Microsoft, the Windows and Office juggernaut that fell asleep for a decade under former CEO Steve Ballmer and completely missed the mobile revolution, now dominated by devices running Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.
A funny thing happened along the way to the mobile revolution. Android became Windows, but without all the profit that Microsoft enjoyed. After spending tens of billions on Android, Google has little to show for the investment. It’s worse for most Android device makers who ship gazillions of units, losing money on each one, but who hope to make it up on volume.
Wait. What? Microsoft is back, right? There’s Windows 10 that runs everywhere, including Windows phones, Surface Pro notebook-tablet hybrids, inexpensive Surface tablets (which are really notebooks without a keyboard), and now the new Surface Book, which, oddly enough, looks and has specifications that are reminiscent of, oh, I don’t know; what other notebook uses the word ‘Book’ in the name? Oh, yeah. MacBook Pro.
Whether Microsoft is back on top or not remains to be seen, despite the new products getting rave reviews as Mac killers, iPad killers, iPhone killers, and Apple killers. It’s Apple that remains the king of profit share, not Microsoft, but I suspect the Windows maker suffers from another disease which infects the industry.
Wait. What? Android? Yes. Android is what has sucked all the profits out of Samsung’s Galaxy class devices. Why spend money for a premium Android smartphone or tablet when you can spend a third as much on a cheap device which still runs the same software as the expensive device. Android and Google apps.
Microsoft suffers from exactly the same malady but only on Windows. Why buy a $3,000 Microsoft Surface Book notebook when you can choose one of two better options; 1) a MacBook Pro which runs OS X, Windows and Windows apps, Linux, and flavors of Unix, and all at the same time if you so desire, or, 2) an HP or Lenovo or Dell notebook at one third the price but which does exactly the same thing as the vastly more expensive Surface Book does. They all run Windows. They all run the same apps.
The differentiating factor between iPhone and iPad vs. Android smartphones and tablets is iOS and premium hardware. The differentiating factors between MacBooks and Windows machines is OS X and premium hardware.
Microsoft has done nothing to change that song.
Why buy a Samsung Galaxy class device when you can get an Android device which does exactly the same thing for one third the price? Why buy a Microsoft Surface class device when you can get a Windows PC or tablet which does exactly the same thing for one third the price?
Differentiation is often the difference between success and failure, profits and losses, and I can’t really see how Microsoft’s new Surface class devices are much different than Samsung’s Galaxy class devices.