Hey Microsoft, take your medicine and call it a tablet
Microsoft has so much going for it, but why does it expend so much energy focusing on the wrong parts? This morning the tech giant released a new Windows 8 tablet, the Microsoft Surface, and while I have not yet had any hands-on time with the device, I have some serious concerns.
Building a convertible tablet/laptop and calling it new doesn’t mean that it is.
We witnessed a range of convertible tablets and PCs and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas such as the Lenovo Ideapad, the Asus Transformer, and Sony Vaio and none of them were particularly inspiring. The problem with convertibles is who wants them? I’m sure some pretty detailed market testing has told brands such demographics exist but I want to know who they are. If people want a laptop, surely they’ll buy a laptop. If they want a tablet, they’ll buy a tablet. Carrying around a tablet, and keyboard and USB and a mouse is just too much hardware to take with you.
It’s not like Microsoft doesn’t have enough going for it without all the bells and whistles. The Surface is actually thinner than the iPad by .1 of a millimetre. And it packs the punch of a PC. But we’re yet to find out about processing power, cost etc. Why not focus on that, instead of pouring time and money into a keyboard they’re not sure everyone wants.
And A STYLUS? A stylus. Is this the ‘90s? Has the Palm Pilot just been released?
We’ve been experimenting with stylus pens for almost 20 years now and I’ve yet to see a company do it successfully. Styluses break. And they get lost. And yes, I know the Surface’s stylus is magnetic but I promise you people are still going to be searching for them down the back of the couch and in their handbags. Styluses are redundant, unnecessary hardware that increase the cost of the device.
Why would you use a stylus when you already have an attachable keyboard anyway? And who is going to use one? Designers? Maybe. But designers are more likely to use design specific tablets like the Wacom. I doubt they’d go out and purchase the Surface as an industry standard.
So that leaves consumers – who already have smartphones and probably another laptop or computer. And maybe it might be handy when writing a shopping list but I reckon a good third of people would end up losing or breaking the stylus and still have enough functionality that they don’t feel inclined to replace it straight away. Which is good and bad, I suppose. But I’m not sure whether it’s particularly essential.
The first rule of Microsoft is nobody calls it a tablet. But why is Microsoft so afraid of branding? The tech giant is refusing to call it a tablet. No no! “It’s not a tablet, it’s not a laptop, it’s a PC,” CEO Steve Ballmer said this morning. NO! It’s a tablet with portable parts.
Sorry, but a tablet with a keyboard is still a tablet. Say it with me. Ta-blet. It’s not a bad word you need to be afraid of.
Microsoft actually does some pretty innovative stuff. And look, I’m sure the Surface is very pretty. And I’m sure many people will buy it.
But I’m fairly certain it won’t make a dent on the iPad’s bottom line. And isn’t that what’s Microsoft’s uber-late entry into the market all about?
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