How Are Techies Reacting To A $499 Microsoft Surface?

How Are Techies Reacting To A $499 Microsoft Surface?

Summary: They like it more than you might expect - indeed, almost as much as they like the iPad Mini.


The Microsoft Surface is Redmond's answer to the iPad, a productivity-enabled, business-leaning tablet. While initial reaction to its design and technical specs have been positive, the big question was the price.

It's a fine line - too high, and it would be hard to compete with the iPad, which starts at $499. Too low, and you undercut Microsoft's long-time partners, who are all now building tablets, too. 

So what did techies who heard about the $499 starting price (sans keyboard) for the Surface think? Here's a roundup of social media reaction analyzed on Tuesday Oct. 16 1:30 pm PT, several hours after the announcement.

Note: all searches were for "Microsoft Surface" or some variant thereof. I tried adding the keywords "price" or "$499" but that in most cases failed to return any results. 

At SocialMention, which claims to track blogs, Twitter, comments and other sources, people were six times as likely to be positive towards the Microsoft Surface as negative:

socialmention ms surface

(What do analysts think about a $499 Microsoft Surface? Hear VDC Research's David Krebs and SAP mobile director Adam Stein discuss on Wednesday Oct 17 at 8 am.) 

At TweetFeel, sentiment was 83% positive (more than 4:1 in favor):

tweetfeel ms surface

According to Twittratr, it's also nearly 4:1 positive for Surface, though the vast majority are neutral.

twitrratr ms surface

Same goes for TipTop - 34% positive for Surface, 9% negative (4:1 ratio), with 57% undecided:

tiptop ms surface

Even at its weakest, Microsoft Surface garnered twice as much positive social media reaction as negative.

At Sentiment140, Twitter users were 68% positive, 32% negative, with an unknown number of neutral tweets: 

sentiment140 ms surface

At the oddly-named StreamCrab, 23% were positive and 14% were negative (51% were neutral). 

streamcrab ms surface


For comparision, I searched the same sites to see what attitudes are towards an iPad Mini:

SocialMention: 10:1 positive BETTER THAN SURFACE

TweetFeel: 54% positive WORSE THAN SURFACE

Twitrratr: 8.3% positive, 1.7% negative, 90% neutral BETTER THAN SURFACE

TipTop: 23% positive, 15% negative WORSE THAN SURFACE

Sentiment140: 52% positive, 48% negative WORSE THAN SURFACE

StreamCrab: 30% positive, 19% negative, 50% neutral BETTER THAN SURFACE

In other words: the tools were equally split on whether they thought people liked the Surface or iPad Mini more.

Few doubt that the iPad Mini will sell well, if not awesomely. In that context, the Microsoft Surface seems to have a good chance of winning substantial customers.


Topics: ÜberTech, iPad, Microsoft, Mobility, Tablets, Windows

Eric Lai

About Eric Lai

I have tracked technology for more than 15 years, as an award-winning journalist and now as in-house thought leader on the mobile enterprise for SAP. Follow me here at ÜberMobile as well as my even less-filtered musings on Twitter @ericylai

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  • You must be kidding me

    First of all, because you ignore all the "don't know yet" (neutral) crowd in all the stats, which are a majority in all the sources you cited. Since "don't know yet" people will not buy the tablet yet (just because they don't know yet) they clearly count as people actually _not approving_ the 499 starter price. And the negative-reviews people are those who are _disapproving_ that. So people who are actually _approving_ are the minority (
  • You must be kidding me

    First of all, because you ignore all the "don't know yet" (neutral) crowd in all the stats, which are a majority in all the sources you cited. Since "don't know yet" people will not buy the tablet yet (just because they don't know yet) they clearly count as people actually _not approving_ the 499 starter price. And the negative-reviews people are those who are _disapproving_ that. So people who are actually _approving_ are the minority (less than 20%) in every of your stats.

    The other thing is: 499 is a ridiculously high for the Surface, because it puts the device on-par (in regard of prices) with the iPad. However, since with the iPad you not only buy the actual device and capabilities, but also an image of being cool, hip, etc - which clearly can not be said about a tablet running a Windows operating system - this actually puts the Surface sub par relative to the iPad in terms of price/what you get ratio. Apple fanboys and -girls are ready to pay the extra Apple tax, however, most Windows-consumers won't.

    I personally think that pricing the Surface that high was a huge mistake from Microsoft, and they will need to cut prices seriously in a few weeks. Even if they'd have set the prices like $70 lower, the tablets could have been a huge success, but with the exact price tag of an iPad coupled with the unability to run classic desktop apps there Windows RT devices are simply destined to fail (in the sense of unable to gain market momentum and share).

    True Windows 8 devices (ie. Surface Pros) will be able to run desktop apps, however, they will be likely priced well above $700-$800 dollars, which will also make no sense, since for that price you can already buy an ultrabook, which practically offers the same basic capabilites, just in better quality (ie. better keyboard) and with more extra (like larger storage than just 32 or 64 GB).

    All in all Microsoft should have priced the Surface Pro devices at the level they priced the "plain" Surface tablet, and the latter should have been about $100 bucks cheaper than the appropriate iPad, if they were ever to make a serious dent into the market.

    Obviously Microsoft can't and won't let Surface to become the Kin 2, but it will need to cut the prices in no time, or face total refusal from the market. My two cents.

    Btw: this comment engine scks big time. It truncated my first comment at a "less than" mark (obviously, because it's the tag prefix in html), and failed to display the rest.
    • Some good points, but...

      Agree that the majority of tweets etc. were neutral and undecided at this point. News is so fresh. Also, like you, my gut also tells me that Microsoft would do even better if it went to $399 or even $449.

      Still, I found two things particularly impressive about the reaction to the $499 price:
      1) the high ratio of positive to negative tweets;
      2) how closely this tracked sentiment to the iPad Mini, which most people think will be a hit with customers
  • Neutral

    Reaction was neutral because it's about what you'd expect. It wasn't $199 and it wasn't prices higher than an iPad. People may complain that costing as much as an iPad is too high, but I still don't see any cheaper Android tablets flying off of the shelves. Even the Nexus 7 at $200 isn't outselling the $500 iPad (meaning the problem wasn't price).
    Jeff Kibuule
  • How Are Techies Reacting To A $499 Microsoft Surface?

    Of course its positive, the Microsoft Surface is brand new computing device. Its got computing power, a keyboard, app compatibility, and Microsoft Windows 8 so there really isn't anything to not like about it. Everyone I've talked to so far have been impressed with the announcement and waiting til the 26th to get theirs.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • Price of surface vs ipad

    These are two really different tablets. The surface tablet brings a lot more of the pc with it and can even switch to desktop mode. The surface also has a USB port that is a big deal to some people. For the price the surface tablet will give you a lot more than the ipad will.
  • Overpriced compared to non RT tablets

    Why would I pay 499 for a Windows RT tablet - which can't run any legacy Windows apps - when I can buy an Acer W510 for the same amount and it's full Windows 8 and has an HDMI port standard (which is extra on the Surface)? I know MS was walking a fine line not to under price their other hardware vendors but I don't think I could recommend for friends or family to buy the 499 Surface. To me the compelling feature of a Windows tablet vs an Ipad is the ability to run all Windows software and to be able to plug it into an external keyboard and monitor and use it as a desktop. I've been doing this with my Acer Iconia W500 for six months using Windows 8 previews and have loved it. But to me a Windows RT tablet is possibly even more limited than an Ipad since at least the Ipad has tons of software.

    I'm a Windows dev and have been for years but I'm often disappointed in how they execute things poorly and my guess is that they've done that here. Wasn't the whole point of Windows RT so they could have low cost ARM based systems competing at the price level of Android tablets? They've missed that here.
  • Hmm

    Running around with an ipad is acutally the opposite of being "cool" over here... It *WAS* cool for a while.. (and I fell for peer pressure and got me a iphone).. then it shifted towards the samsung galaxy line... now though the "buzz" is firmly in the microsoft/lumia/surface department...

    I can only speak for the people I personally know... but nowadays an ipad is considered "meh been there done that" while the surface is "oooh aah awesome"
    • Yeah right

      To this day, I haven't seen a SINGLE Samsung Galaxy tablet in the wild outside of a store.

      They are NOT SELLING. Same goes for the ASUS Transformer .... the two that are selling "by the millions" .... yet official numbers from the manufacturers show that neither has reached one million shipped.
  • Correction

    Apple still sells the iPad 2, so the iPad starting price is $399 not $499.
  • Am I a Luddite

    My problem with the Android tablets is that they take too much fiddling to do simple things I want to do. My workplace is Office-based and I don't want to fool around getting apps to start work. That and Android's unique ability to crash at unexpected and unpredicted moments limits my choices to Apple and MS. On balance I think I'll be better served, and waaaay cooler with a Surface than the other two toys.
  • RT missing several things that make that price way to ... high

    No pen digitizer, requires an adapter for video output, lower screen resolution than the iPad, doesn't include the keyboard at that price, and has very few applications available in its new ecosystem. If it had the pen digitizer I'd seriously consider it but at this point I'll have to look at paying twice as much for a W8Pro tablet with half the battery life and twice the weight (and I'm saying no to anything with an Atom processor, /wrist on that chip). This is why Microsoft and company have failed for over a decade in the tablet market, they just can't seem to get it right.
  • It might serve them well...

    but as one who is neither one year old nor 101, I have no want, need or desire for any touch screen product. I do not use a smart phone, nor do I use a tablet. It may make me a dinosaur, but I do not trust any device where I have to touch the display to use.

    Personally, Microsoft would have to pay me five times that amount to think about using either the surface or Windows8
  • there is no such thing as a MS Surface

    You can buy either Surface RT or Surface Pro.
    One is a direct competitor to all the classical pads out there unfortunately suffering from the absence of apps.
    The other one is a fully featured x86 sw running device with a touch screen. Competing with ultrabooks and convertibles of the same breed. It can run modern GUI apps too.