IDC’s Francisco Jeronimo Comments on Microsoft Surface Tablet
London, 19 June, 2012 – Microsoft announced its Surface tablet today. At the centre of CEO Steve Ballmer’s presentation was the message that integration between the hardware and the software is key to delivering a better end-user experience. The hardware designed by Microsoft is aimed at capturing interest from users for a device that combines a PC-like and a tablet experience, so the Surface is clearly targeted at professional users in the first place. The physical keyboard and the focus on the MS Office environment show that Microsoft is targeting the business segment, where it can differentiate and take share from Apple. The Surface will probably come with the best MS Office experience, the killer application of the device. The keyboard is also a very important accessory for professional usage.
Despite some interesting hardware features, very little was said about the software, the user interface, the user experience and the ecosystem. Some of these were discussed by Microsoft during earlier Windows 8 presentations, but it needs to start bringing together the different pieces of the Windows 8 story. What makes the iPad the most successful tablet on the market is the software, the applications and the added value that end users perceive from that. The reason why Android tablets need to be cheap is because they do not deliver as much when it comes to value. Besides Apple, no other manufacturer has captured significant market share in this segment. The main focus has been on the hardware and specs only. I was expecting to hear from Microsoft today about how the Surface delivers an integrated experience with the PC, what additional services or features are available and how the Microsoft ecosystem is growing to be a real alternative to the iPad and Android tablets.
Hardware-wise Microsoft has done a very good job of launching a device that is exciting and different, but it needs to deliver what it has been promising with the new Windows 8 strategy. Consumers will not buy, and specially not pay a premium for, the Surface until they understand the additional value they can get compared with the iPad and how the device integrates with their PCs, gaming consoles, Windows Phones, etc. The entire ecosystem — and not unlinked pieces of it — is what will make Microsoft’s proposition attractive.
Microsoft has also shown how serious it is about controlling the hardware. The Surface could have been announced with any of its partners, but by designing and launching its own branded tablet, Microsoft is clearly refocusing its approach on a more closed strategy. And if that is the case the company will need to take a different route and to acquire a manufacturer that knows and controls the entire supply chain.
For more information, contact: