Microsoft certainly threw a curve-ball as far as new announcements were concerned, with strong rumours of a third Xbox console leading the way as recently as the day before their announcement. But yesterday, Microsoft went down the smart route and announced their first-party tablet – Surface.
The machine itself looks like a solid, sleek, capable machine, and the accessories (a cover that doubles as a super-slim keyboard, for example) are clearly ones that are out-thinking the brainboxes at Apple. But despite that, does it really have the capability to compete with Apple’s iPad in a market where apps are iOS first (or even exclusive) in the vast majority of cases?
Surface certainly looks like a great bit of technology, although I’m curious as to how long a Tegra-powered graphics approach is going to last in a couple of years as the iPad continues to push out Retina-Display visuals that would stun Crysis and Partypoker players alike. It also happens to run on the divisive Windows 8 operating system, which could be a sore point for those who aren’t big fans of Microsoft’s Metro UI design movement – arguably, a significant number of people.
It seems intuitive, but its app market is what will make or break it. Windows Phones and even Android are lagging behind the appeal of developing for iOS in many cases, and people are only going to opt for a tablet if they know that it is capable of bringing them the functionality they need, whether it’s found in first or third-party software.
Pricing is also a big factor, and something people are going to base their purchase/change-over-from-Apple/Android decision on. Simply put, Microsoft, your winning tactic is this – “cheaper than an iPad.” If you can beat the price of Apple’s base, current-gen tablet model, you’re in with a really good chance. Nail that and a good app selection, and who knows? You might survive.