With just a few days left to go until the release of Windows 8 and the Microsoft-built Surface tablets, the Redmond-based company has donned its marketing hat. While the jury is still out on the amount Microsoft has earmarked for the Windows 8 marketing campaign, it is likely to be a large sum (some reports peg it at over $1 billion), especially considering how much Microsoft has riding on these two products. But wait, what exactly does Microsoft have “riding” on them?
In case you haven't heard, Microsoft's Surface with Windows RT tablets are now available to pre-order, starting at $499 for the 32GB model sans Black Touch Cover. With the Touch Cover, the price jumps by a Benjamin to $599, and the 64GB version (with Touch Cover) is going for $699. Those are competitive price points compared to Apple's third generation iPad tablets, but as the Android camp found out, $499+ tablets are a tough sell.
Microsoft made a splash in cyberspace this morning when it temporarily revealed pre-order pricing for its Surface RT tablet line, only to inexplicably pull the listing offline. Well, once you let the cat out of the bag on the Internet, there's no putting it back in, so either Microsoft caved, or it was planning to go live with the pre-order site all along. Either way, the pre-order page is now back online, presumably for good.
Microsoft may have inadvertently confirmed the price points of its Surface RT tablets prematurely. For a brief time this morning, Surface RT tablets were up for pre-order on Microsoft's website, and since there are no take-backs or do-overs on the Internet, we now know what Microsoft's pricing strategy looks like. The cost of entry starts at $499 for the 32GB version without a Touch Cover.
If the choice is to go big or go home, Microsoft is opting for the former with its Surface tablet strategy. Much to the chagrin of Acer and other hardware partners who wish Microsoft would bow out of the tablet race completely, the Redmond software giant is reportedly gearing up to the splash the mobile market with more than 3 million Surface devices to be sold through its own retail store locations and other outlets.
Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing is the latest PC industry honcho to share his thoughts on Microsoft’s upcoming Surface tablet family. Even though Microsoft has yet to reveal what exactly lies beneath the Surface, Yuanqing is convinced that regardless of whatever it is that’s inside, the Chinese PC vendor, a Windows RT launch partner, will have no problem bettering it.
You know how pessimists like to point out that if something is too good to be true, then it probably is? As much as we hate to admit it, that idiom most likely applies to a recent rumor suggesting Microsoft finalized plans to price its Windows RT-based Surface tablet at a mere $199. It's fun to speculate on what kind of impact that would have on the tablet market, but at the end of the day, all that rhetoric would be for naught because it's just not going to happen, according to several analysts.
After creating a stir in the media over comments he made to Microsoft warning the company to "think twice" about its Surface strategy, Acer chairman J.T. Wang is now singing a different tune, one that's far less threatening and more accepting to the situation. That doesn't mean Wang is no longer concerned about Microsoft's march in the tablet space, but he did clarify that Acer has every intention of competing with Windows 8-based slates of its own.
Whether or not Microsoft’s upcoming Surface tablets go on to disrupt the tablet market, one thing’s for sure: their release will change the company’s relationship with PC manufacturers forever. PC vendors have already started voicing their discomfort with Microsoft’s decision to enter the tablet market with its own devices, which it says are “built to be the ultimate stage for Windows.” This is despite the fact that at this point nobody really knows whether Surface is simply meant to jumpstart the whole Windows 8 tablet category or if it’s an ambitious pilot project that could lead to more devices in the future. Going by a dozen or so job postings that were recently posted on the Microsoft Careers site, it looks unlikely that the Redmond-based company will stop making tablets anytime soon.
On the Surface, Microsoft is hoping its tablet strategy will ignite Windows 8 in the mobile space and steal a slice of Apple's market share pie, but at what cost? It's not an insignificant question. Microsoft relies on its hardware partners to drive its Windows platforms, and by taking the reigns and racing alongside them, the Redmond company is essentially biting the hands that feed it. Lest anyone think Microsoft's OEM partners are taking this lightly, Acer chairman J.T. Wang issued some words of warning to Microsoft.