Tablet Wars - Can Microsoft's Surface Survive?
Yasir is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Smartphones and Notebooks have been quite popular, however, tablet computers are probably the hottest gadgets at the moment. The real awareness started when Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) launched its first tablet computer, the iPad. After the success of the iPad, some of the biggest smartphone companies started developing Android tablets and the Nexus 7 became one of the most selling tablets of 2012. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) recently released its new tablet computer, Surface, which is based on the latest Windows 8 Operating System. With some of its exceptional features, Surface can change the tablet market if it knocks out the latest Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Nexus 10 and the 4th Generation iPad.
One of the biggest strengths of Microsoft is that its software is extremely user friendly and is used by most corporations all over the world. Loyal Windows users, who haven't used tablet computers, would definitely consider getting the new Surface tablet. Secondly, the Surface provides a 2-in-1 experience as it also features a "desktop" mode similar to Desktop computers and Laptops. With the iPad and the Nexus 10, users won't get that Desktop experience and a tablet experience can be sometimes quite limited. Another strength is the new Touch Cover Keyboard, which will probably be one of the biggest factors if the Surface is successful. The keyboard further adds to the Desktop like experience and Microsoft has truly created a unique add-on for the tablet. Both, Apple and Google, haven't introduced something like the touch keyboard. Bluetooth keyboards are available, but they don't even come close to Microsoft's touch keyboard! The specifications are also quite decent and the Surface is priced fairly when compared to other popular tablet computers.
Possibly the biggest weakness of Microsoft's latest product is the screen resolution. The Surface features a ClearHD display but stays behind the new iPad and Google's Nexus 10 tablet. iPad's retina display had no match for several years and the surface stays behind Apple in this department. However, the Nexus 10 beats iPad's retina display as it has the highest tablet display resolution. Apart from this, the Microsoft Surface doesn't have any major weaknesses, especially because its software has been, and still is, brilliant. However, Microsoft did face some problems in its previous hardware projects including the Zune Player, which didn't even come close to competing with Apple's iPod and secondly the mega loss-making XBOX, which is profitable right now but took a lot of time.
Microsoft's hardware has never been quite popular, even though the company released some revolutionary products. It has received popularity because of the software; however, the brave and daring step of Windows 8 and the Surface tablet might turn out to be a revolution in the computing and tablet industry. It certainly has the potential of being one of the first successful tablets in Microsoft's line of next generation tablet computers. It won't bring a change of the same magnitude which came with Apple's iPad, however, it can change the tablet industry by getting to the top and staying there. A lot of users have been frustrated by the lack of additional features in the latest iPad and iPhone, but loyal Apple users will still buy Apple's products. If Microsoft can bring innovation and changes in its future tablets, then there is no reason why Microsoft can't get on top of the tablet and computing industry.
Microsoft's major competitors will be Apple and Samsung and the Surface will face competition from the 4th generation iPad and Samsung's Google Nexus 10. The iPad and Android tablets have been around for quite some time now and these tablets already have a lot of loyal customers. Microsoft's only advantage would be the loyal customers of its laptops and notebooks. There will be only a few, who would switch from Android/Apple to Microsoft's Surface. The popularity and the existing brand image of Apple and Android tablets would be the biggest threat to Microsoft.
The coming year could be really tough for Apple, Microsoft and Google as the 3 most anticipated tablets will be going head to head. Google Android tablets have never been good enough to beat the iPad as Apple's retina display has been enough to make the iPad superior. It would now be interesting to see how well the Nexus 10 does as it is the first Android tablet which will have a better screen resolution than the iPad. We'll have to wait and watch if the unique Surface tablet line reaches its full potential or becomes another Microsoft hardware flop.
Compare and Contrast
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yasirrfc has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.