Microsoft's Surface tablet: The preannouncement strategy doesn't fly today

Microsoft's Surface tablet: The preannouncement strategy doesn't fly today

Summary: Can Microsoft freeze the tablet market at least a little bit with its Surface product preannouncement? Possibly, but it's not the 1990s anymore.


Microsoft's Surface tablet---a Windows 8 tablet with a snazzy keyboard and nice industrial design---made its debut last week, but the biggest question is whether the software giant's 1990s era preannouncement will fly this time.

To be sure, Microsoft's Surface tablet looks impressive, but there are so many questions left over that it's almost comical. Danny Sullivan mocked the pseudo hands-on reviews. Ed Bott said the Surface made a good first impression.

Unfortunately, Microsoft withheld launch dates, detailed specs and pricing.

Why? Microsoft was trying to front-run Google's I/O developer confab this week in San Francisco and rushed it. Google is likely to roll out some sort of tablet, which will be pegged to its Play store. A Google tablet would be aimed at Apple's iPad as well as Amazon's Kindle Fire.

Should Google make a big tablet splash---for real this time---Microsoft couldn't afford to go without a Surface story.

Also: How the tech press reacted to Microsoft Surface

The difference between Microsoft's Surface unveiling and dozens of product preannouncements before it is the market has changed. Microsoft used to be able to announce a product was coming, freeze the market for competitors and then launch to its established customer base.

Today, Apple has the tablet installed base, but doesn't preannounce products. Apple does a keynote, announces an availability date and rolls it out with a splash. Microsoft's preannouncement strategy grabbed buzz, but without concrete details it's using a PC-Windows OS announcement strategy in the post-PC era. Bottom line: You'll still buy an iPad unless there are more Surface details.

Sure, Microsoft could have enticed a few enterprises looking to consolidate tablet and PC buying cycles, but the reality is businesses are just moving to Windows 7 and aren't going to budge for Windows 8. Microsoft doesn't have the mobile phone market share to freeze out the Android and iOS competition.

In other words, the Surface looked good, but will stumble if it doesn't get out the door quickly---like in a month or two quickly. Preannouncements may pause a few folks, but Microsoft can't work its market freezing magic like it used to.



Topics: CXO, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Tablets

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  • Bottom Line

    "You???ll still buy an iPad unless there are more Surface details"

    No chance. Consider this buyer frozen. iToys don't cut it anymore.
    x I'm tc
    • You're so far in the minority that Apple couldn't care

      less, and Microsoft won't be benefited by you.
    • Worked for me

      Not that I'd consider the iPad with its ancient UI and 4:3 screen, but this means I wait for a tablet rather than getting my hands dirty with Android.

      Now all MS has to do is offer a trade-in for iPad and Android called "Toys into Tools".

      Windows users are the majority by a very long way and while some of them may already have iPads and Androids, the majority are just waiting for a real computer tablet and that doesn't mean another toy tablet from Google.
      • Wouldn't that be called...

        Toys for Tools? Because to buy a Microsoft "Surface" you have to be a tool :p
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Hahaha

        Thanks for the laugh, enjoyed it.
    • You don't count

      "No chance. Consider this buyer frozen. iToys don't cut it anymore."

      "iToys"? You were never in the market for an iPad. You're not mature enough.
      • What do you call a device which, people buy with high expectations, and,

        after a couple of months "playing" with it, they set aside and hardly ever pick up again, except when they're on the road and might want to check their e-mail? That's a high-priced PDA, and virtually useless for anything other than e-mail, and checking in with social media. That, essentially, puts in in the "toy" category.
        • You call it a toy,

          I call a tablet owned by somebody that doesn't have the capacity to utilize it to the extent it is capable of. I use my iPad for hours daily, do not waste my time with social media and rarely use it for email and even less for games.
      • <laughing>

        Not mature enough? Really? That's your comeback? Come on, you can do better than that because you're, you know... "mature".
        • Why?

          He apparently didn't need to do any better.
    • He is talking about the average consumer

      Not those like you have are blinded by either your fanboy love of one OS or your hatred for another.
  • Prices

    Anyone who was going to buy an Android tablet for $200 wasn't going to get the Surface.
    Jeff Kibuule
    • Acording to the presentation ....

      .... the Surface tablet is going to be price comparable to Ultrabooks ... which are around $1K.

      So you are right, anybody who is considering cheap tablets is not going to even look at a Surface.
      • RT and Pro pricing

        You are referring to the Pro version. The Windows RT version with ARM processors will have a lower price, close to other ARM tablets (based on the Surface keynote). Still, I don't expect them to go as low to $200.00.
      • RT pricing

        Will depend on Microsoft's intent. Either Microsoft will market them to Windows Fanboys ($599 to $899), or an effort to gain market penetration ($399 5to $599) and lose money on each unit (think xbox). If they choose the former, it will end up like WP 7, with only the diehard fanboys, or go the route of dumping, and potentially get into trouble with the legal authorities
        Jumpin Jack Flash
    • You "Only MS only Fanboys an Gals" are really

      something. If you haven't figured out how to use an Ipad for productive uses, then this really calls in to question your abilities....

      I happen to look forward to seeing how the Surface's perform and what price they will have. The more choice out there the better for all of us.

      But if any of you really think, with all the Ipads being purchased and used by people daily, that these devices are toys, then you really just don't have a clue, and are so blinded by your hate of Apple, you can't see past the end of your nose..

      It really is time to grow up and move out from Mommy's basement, and get out from under her skirt, and become adults.....

      I don't have a problem with anyone not liking Apple products, but just to keep proclaiming that people buy them and don't use them, or that they are just toys, or that MS is going to save us all from Apple, and Apple and Android are all going to fail....

      Well you've all been saying these things about WP7, and all the way thru all their updates, it really is childish.....

      And along with my Ipad, I use Windows on a daily basis, and enjoy using them both for productive uses and play, and I don't consider myself that smart when it comes to IT, But, if I can figure out how to use an Ipad for creation, and the lot of you cannot.....Hmm...

      • Price

        Well said - I also think it's stupid when people just become fans of a single companies products as it blinds them to potential gems from other companies. I too have an iPad but will definitely be getting one of the pro versions of the Surface tablet when it comes out.

        Regarding price - I think they are definitely pricing it as a laptop replacement and potentially a desktop replacement and aiming squarely at the workplace with inevitable healthy sales in the home as a result.

        I've written some more about potential uses in the office here - - I'd love to hear your comments.
        David Hilditch
  • sinple answer.

    If you watched the presentation, Microsoft said the keyboard folds to the back, and turns it self off to avoid accidental input.
  • Also notice

    that when the whole schmozsal is setup it's foot print is huge and quite immobile. This thing is starting to look kinda silly compared to the tablet keyboards already available.
    • It's a convertable with removable keyboard... it's foot print will only be "huge and quite immobile" when you have it set up in "notebook" mode with the keyboard attached.

      Nice try though!