You are here > Home > News
Can Microsoft Surface compete with the iPad?
IT News |
For an entire generation, Microsoft has been at the forefront of information technology innovation. Guided by the vision of co-founder Bill Gates, the company has played a central role in the consumer IT revolution. First with MS-DOS and then Windows, the firm has helped bring computing to the masses, irrevocably changing the way people live and work.
But where mobile technology is concerned, particularly media tablets, Microsoft has been some way behind the curve. Indeed it has been the firm's great rival Apple which has led the way, with its touchscreen iPad proving to be a genuine tour de force. Millions of handsets have been sold since the original version launched in April 2010, with consumers and then businesses around the world eagerly adopting the devices.
Rival manufacturers have tried but largely failed to check the dominance of the iPad. The likes of the Acer Iconia, Blackberry Playbook, Dell Streak, Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy have attracted users, but not on a significant enough scale to challenge the market leader. As the first to launch a modern, highly functional tablet computer, Apple has been able to corner the market and stay one step ahead of its rivals.
But could this be set to change? After missing the boat in terms of early-edition tablet computers, Microsoft has regrouped and finally put together a viable contender. Launched this week, the Microsoft Surface looks like an impressive addition, and one which gives the firm a real chance of establishing a foothold in the sector. Its trump card is the popularity of the Windows, with the familiarity of the operating system likely to appeal to people in the market for a tablet computer.
Writing for PC World, Tony Bradley noted that many businesses in particular rely upon Windows for their day-to-day IT processes. "[They} would love to have something like an iPad that also happens to be Windows," he claimed. Mr Bradley said that if Microsoft is able to price the Surface competitively, it could bring about "a quantum shift" in the tablet segment.
CNET's Dan Farber noted that Microsoft has more than 90 per cent market share for desktops, compared with just six per cent for Apple. "But in the mobile world, the roles are reversed," he said. "Microsoft is barely a blip on the mobile scene, while Apple and Google are running away with the fast-growing market." However, he said Microsoft had "got the message" in introducing the Surface line of mobile devices, "taking a page from Apple's total-control product strategy". And this could help the firm mount a competitive challenge.
IT analyst IDC believes it may not be a case of stealing mobile users away from the iPad, but attracting more consumers and businesses to the mobile arena. The firm expects global tablet shipments to rise from 107.4 million units in 2012 to 142.8 million next year and 222.1 million in 2016.
Tom Mainelli, research director for mobile connected devices at IDC, claimed that demand for media tablets "remains robust" and new products from major players will help raise user rates. He said that a "huge marketing blitz" from Microsoft around Windows 8 will drive increased consumer interest in the category through the end of the year. "Our current thinking, based upon early pricing expectations for these products, is that Windows-based tablets will be largely additive to our existing media tablet market forecast," Mr Mainelli stated. "We don't expect Windows-based tablets to necessarily take share from Apple and Android, but will grow the overall tablet market."
Initial reviews of the Microsoft Surface have been positive and consumers are seemingly looking forward to the launch of Windows 8 on mobile devices. But if IDC's projections are accurate, it may not be a case of Apple of Microsoft dominating the tablet marketplace. With user rates rising all the time, and shipments set to soar, there may well be room in the market for more than one industry leader.
Posted by Jon Aspinell
IT Recruitment Agency - 12.5% Fee / 3 Month, 100% Rebate - Transparent Recruitment Fees Since 1999.
Sign up to our e-newsletter service to receive our headline news directly to your inbox