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October 16
Oh Surface! You could have been a contender!

Since Surface was first announced a few months ago I’ve been so excited to see what Microsoft was going to do!

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Microsoft was able to do something here that it has not been able to do in a LONG time, and that’s generate a LOT of buzz and excitement for a consumer device! Yay! Finally a tablet that will fit that little hole in our geeky hearts! Something that will run office, we can actually use for work and play and FINALLY a viable alternative to the iPad…  As time went on, the buzz stayed pretty constant with nerds and geeks dreaming of what magic Microsoft might perform here. In the midst of all the buzz the faithful just KNEW that Microsoft was going to make a real stand here and over deliver and blow away the world with a great piece of hardware at great price. 

I’m not sure who set expectations, but this magic price point of $299 started floating around. Could it be? Could Microsoft be so serious about taking market share away from Apple that they would release such an awesome tablet at that price point? Yes! Surely they would. How else could they hope to succeed???? I was prepared to buy one for everyone in my family…

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And the buzz grew….

Until….

The interwebs have been buzzing today with supposedly leaked prices of the Surface tablet. With the base model starting at $499 and adding that cool click keyboard tacking on another $100 to that price:

http://thenextweb.com/microsoft/2012/10/16/the-microsoft-surface-rt-tablet-to-cost-499-cost-599-with-touch-cover/

Screen Shot 2012 10 16 at 12.56.08 520x364 The Microsoft Surface RT tablet to cost $499, or $599 with Touch Cover

However, the pricing was quickly removed and we held out some small sliver of hope that Microsoft realized that pricing like that would not make sense… and then came the nail in the coffin:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/Press/2012/Oct12/10-16announcementPR.aspx

Surface!!??! You could have been a contender!! Instantly, images began to flash in my head and the Hitler meme almost writes itself on this one! What have you done Microsoft?? As a huge geek and a big fan of Microsoft, this greatly depresses me. Microsoft had SUCH a huge opportunity here, and if these prices end up sticking, I’m afraid Surface will go the way of the HP TouchPad.. and here’s why:

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it

How many other tablets have come and gone at this price? Most of them? Can anyone name a successful tablet at this price point besides the iPad??? People have been screaming for a mid-priced tablet somewhere above the Kindle and below the iPad, and here was Microsoft’s chance to use their buzz and present something at a price point that would make it THE must have item for your geek for Christmas. Now, it’s just another tablet that runs a a cooler Windows OS. Remember how HP’s servers crashed from people trying to order a $149 TouchPad?? The demand is there and the demand is huge!!  But I don’t see HOW Surface can succeed at this price point!!

Yeah, but it’s competitively priced versus the iPad and I get Office!!

Okay, so let’s be real honest. Unless you are an Apple Hater or a Microsoft Fanboi WHY would you pay the same price for a Surface tablet versus an iPad? An iPad has more market share, better resolution, TONS more apps, and it’s got all that history so Apple has had time to tweak it and get it “just right”. Microsoft needed a great price to sway those undecideds and maybe even bring in a few Apple loyalists...

Win8 may be a superior OS, the snap keyboard is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while, and Surface is more than likely a better device all around… but just being better will not give you market share or longevity. Does anyone still remember the Commodore Amiga??? Enough said…

Arrogant Naysayer!

I want to make sure I’m heard here. I rant because of my geeky passion for technology. Because I want Microsoft to succeed here. Because I want a decent tablet that is a real business tool and more than just a toy… AND will be around and supported for more than a couple of years. Maybe Microsoft is playing the long game here. Maybe they realize there is no way they will sell those 5,000,000 units they are producing at this price point. Maybe this is all some sort of plan that I’m just too ignorant to realize and in 3 years the Surface will be the next xBox. I hope so…

Will I still buy a Surface? Probably… I would have LIKED to have bought four though…

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Comments

Re: Oh Surface! You could have been a contender!

"Okay, so let’s be real honest. Unless you are an Apple Hater or a Microsoft Fanboi WHY would you pay the same price for a Surface tablet versus an iPad? An iPad has more market share, better resolution, TONS more apps, and it’s got all that history so Apple has had time to tweak it and get it “just right”. Microsoft needed a great price to sway those undecideds and maybe even bring in a few Apple loyalists..." Amen.
 on 10/16/2012 1:01 PM

That's your complaint?

Shorter SP Hillbilly - I was expecting to get a full-featured tablet with top-of-the-line capabilities for the price of a Kindle and now I'm disappointed that my fantasy wasn't borne out so I'm only going to buy ONE Surface instead of a four.

Oh, good grief...

You want Walmart prices? Go to the OEMs and comparison shop. I'm sure someone will come out with a cheap, underpowered piece-of-junk RT tablet that falls apart in one year.

I'm not a "Microsoft fanboi" but I respect quality and I want an ARM tablet that will fit seamlessly into my Windows-centric computing environment - home and work. If it comes with Office and a web browser, that's anough "apps" to cover 95% of what I would use it for. The rest of the ecosystem will grow if only because there are more Windows developers out there than any other kind.

And, FOUR Surfaces? Really? I will only buy one and if you'll be honest, that's all you really intended to buy, too. I will also be upgrading my desktop system to Win 8 Pro, and will shop for a Win 8 ultrabook sometime next year - which may be the Surface Pro or may be something else.

In short, you're being a drama queen. Give it a rest.

Sheesh.
 on 10/18/2012 10:44 AM

You clearly have a problem understanding English...

When did I ever say I wanted a full-featured laptop at rock bottom prices? I wish people would read my blogs before commenting.

Surface is NOT a laptop, it is a tablet.  It's going after the iPad market. Because of iPad's market dominance and the details I stated above which you obviously didn't read, Surface really needed to come in at a lower price to make any real headway.

Will it still succeed? hopefully.. Will I buy one? I already did. Is it worth what they are charging? Quite possibly.

What I'm saying is Microsoft had a golden opportunity here to make a major blow to the iPad market and they decided not to do that and because of that, they risk the long term success of Surface.

Plus, it's fun to get people like you riled up.  :) 
EMS\markrackleyNo presence information on 10/18/2012 11:11 AM

No, my English is fine

I said "full featured TABLET", not laptop. To me, that means a tablet like an iPad, Galaxy Note or Surface RT vs. a tablet like a Kindle Fire, B&N Nook or comparable gadget. A full featured LAPTOP would be the Surface Pro, Lenovo Yoga or MacBook Air.

You want a Surface RT priced like a Kindle Fire. Fair enough - *I'd* like one at that price point, too. You're personally disappointed that the fantasy of a low-priced Surface RT didn't materialize, so now you're preaching gloom and doom because you didn't get something like an iPad (or Galaxy Tab) for the price of a Kindle Fire. You're now loudly proclaiming that the Surface wiil be a failure because it is merely 20% cheaper than a comparable iPad ($499 vs. $599) (Comparable Galaxy Tab is $550) instead of being priced like a Kindle Fire.

I think that it's a bit early to say that MS has risked the long term success of the Surface because they priced a little below the iPad and Galaxy Note rather than sold greatly below production costs in Kindle territory. That's why I'm calling you a drama queen. I do believe that the more of this kind of wailing and gnashing of teeth that happens before the product can get established, the more the echo chamber of the InterTubz will predispose people to dismissing the Surface out of hand.

OTOH, you still bought one and the base model has been backordered online, so I'm guessing that the Surface RT (and comparable products by other vendors) will do fine. I'm picking mine up at a local MS store next week.

Finally, why are you seeing this only as striking a blow against the iPad rather than as opening up a whole new tablet market? I couldn't care less about the number of iPads (or Galaxy Tabs or Kindles or insert-device-name-here) in use as long as there is a market for products like the Surface. If some pierced and unwashed hipster in Portlandia wants to have a fruit logo on the back of their over-priced, under-powered tablet, let a thousand flowers bloom. I know what I need to do what I want, and that's a well-engineered ARM tablet running Windows RT.

Besides, if I end up not liking my Surface, I can always convert it into a skateboard. Heh...
 on 10/18/2012 3:09 PM

So.....

Some final thoughts...

I have owned both an iPad and a couple of different Android tablets, and I find them all lacking. This tablet looks to be the first real option I have for playing AND actually getting some work done. However, I don't want to invest my money or time in a technology that won't be around in a few years.  Microsoft is not afraid to dump a technology if it is not profitable enough. Therefore, if the Surface doesn't make a big enough impact we may be relegated to sub-par options.

I truly believe (and judging from a majority of the noise on the internet people agree with me) that Microsoft should have taken a play out of their playbook from what they did with the xBox when it first came out. Take a hit on profit to gain market share.

I keep going back to my earlier comments, most people will not choose a Surface over an iPad. Why would they? I truly believe Microsoft needed to do something spectacular here to lure some of those people away.

I'm not trying to spout doom and gloom. I'm trying to raise a red flag so the problem can be addressed before it's too late. There's a big difference there.

Is my post a little overly dramatic? Of course! Isn't it more interesting to read that way?  :) 

It got this conversation started anyway... and I do thank you for your comments and your thoughts.

I hope you enjoy your new Surface as I'm sure I'll enjoy mine.
Mark
EMS\markrackleyNo presence information on 10/18/2012 3:56 PM

So, do you like it?

I've been using my Surface pretty much continually since I picked it up on Friday. The hardware is spectacular and the software (for a v.1 OS & completely new program ecosystem) is fun to use. I mostly use the browser, OneNote, some of the news apps, the Bing app (that one surprised me - I didn't think I'd use it as a dedicated app), a traffic app, Netflix, SkyDrive, Kindle, and the weather app. I'm "meh" about the Mail app and prefer Outlook.com in the browser. I don't do social media, so can't comment on that.

I took it to one work place yesterday (the main office) and had a crowd of geeks. They all started out by bitching about it and all ended saying they were going to go to the MS store and check it out. My sys admin said he had planned to get a Nexus 10, but was going to go Surface. We'll see about its reception at the client site today.

Office 2013 is excellent, especially OneNote. Did you see the Paul Thurrot article where he cites the Apple CEO saying the #1 requested "app" for the iPad is Office? I think that may be a bigger selling point than people realize. One of the people next to me in line at the store on Friday was a college student. His dad, who is an IT professional, said he'd buy the kid *any* tablet he wanted, but only after the kid did a ranked assessment of what he needed the tablet for, and then scored the tablets based on how well they met his requirements (guy must be a project manager...). The student's #1 requirement was "take notes in lecture hall", and Surface won out because of Office. The dad paid for the 64GB plus both keyboard types and an input pen.

I agree that MS has to do something much better than their usual, and I think they did. I don't think they need a loss leader like they did wth Xbox, where they had zero market presence (game console vs computer OS), and they've now given themselves room for a "mini" Surface product. I dont think they have the luxury of abandoning the product, any more than they could abandon the Xbox, though the first gen devices will be obsolete relatively soon (compare to WP7 vs. WP8).  In fact, I think they've just changed the market dynamics and have now raised the bar for Apple & the various Android tablet manufacturers for what a "normal" tablet needs to do.

Is this thing perfect? No, but it is competitive. It blows away the Galaxy Tab that my spousal unit was given at work. He's now salivating at the prospect of inheriting the company "test" Surface the owner bought (I want that to happen to save us having to buy him his own because this one is MINE and he can't have it!).

So, the Surface RT is back ordered three weeks on line, the store in my mall is packed with shoppers (and kids playing with Kinect and Xbox - Best. Mall. Babysitter. Evar.) and I get mobbed whenever I flip open the keyboard and start playing with it. Not a bad start, even with all the drama. ;-)
 on 10/30/2012 10:56 AM

It's awesome...

I agree, it's a phenomenal product and potentially a game changer. I plan to write a review when I can get unburied for a moment. It's well built, responsive, feature packed, and the hands down the best tablet I have ever used.

And it's totally worth the price. I'm STILL not convinced Microsoft shouldn't have come out at a lower price point. I truly believe they could have started a revolution if it were > $100 cheaper. As it stands, it's a winner... I just hope it has legs and gains that presence it deserves.
EMS\markrackleyNo presence information on 10/31/2012 1:16 PM

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