Microsoft briefed the world, got the coverage (see Techmeme) and gave Bill Gates some ammo for his dog-and-pony show with Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Meanwhile, the table-top computing technology is way cool. Just check out the cool faces and drinks you can order in the video above. Channel 10 has another demo from central casting.
Unfortunately, this Surface Computing concept anchors another round of products we don't need at a price ($5,000 to $10,000) that won't entice anyone. At least these table PCs--coming to a bar or hotel near you soon--are in keeping with Microsoft's hit list.
Here's Microsoft's recent greatest product hits:
- Tablet PC: Rumor has it this platform is taking off after years of wallowing in vertical market obscurity.
- The portable media center: Discontinued.
- The UMPC: Two words: Door stop.
- Zune: Three words: Non-aerodynamic brown Frisbee (or brick or pick your analogy). The brown one is essentially a poop brick equipped with wi-fi.
Now you can add the Surface Computing initiative to that list. You don't have to read farther than the headline of Microsoft's press release to diagnose the problem. The headline: "Microsoft Launches New Product Category: Surface Computing Comes to Life in Restaurants, Hotels, Retail Locations and Casino Resorts."
Here's the issue: Microsoft is so busy creating new categories no one wants that it's failing to create products that people may buy today. As described the Surface Computing table (photos right) is a fancy kiosk--much like the one I used to order American cheese in the supermarket the other day.
Bottom line: A Surface Computing tabletop (Microsoft should have stuck with PlayTable) isn't a Wii and it certainly isn't an iPhone. In other words, it's something you look at and say "neat." But you won't be lining up around the block for one--not that you could afford to.