Microsoft Surface tablets: Target is mainstream, not enterprise

While the new Surface tablets may find a place in the workplace, the target to get mass reception is in the home.

Image credit: Ed Bott/ZDNet

A lot of the buzz generated by Microsoft's impressive new Surface tablets is aimed at how the enterprise may be the perfect fit for Windows tablets. That may be, but to reach the sales numbers that Microsoft needs to be a competitor to the iPad the primary target is not the enterprise. Surface tablets need to appeal to mainstream consumers to have the impact Microsoft wants.

That's why word that the initial Surface tablets will be Wi-Fi only is not that important. Indications are that Wi-Fi iPads are the choice of many mainstream consumers as most folks rarely use them outside of hotspots. The 3G/4G iPads sell in much smaller numbers, and then only because Apple has such good deals with the U. S. carriers to keep them contract free.

Microsoft needs to make a big initial push to get the Surface into the home, not the workplace. Wi-Fi is all that is needed to make that happen, so it won't be a problem if a 3G/4G version comes later. When the mobile broadband versions of the Surface are released, one thing is an absolute necessity for it to compete well with the iPad.

There better be similar deals for data plans to those on the iPad with carriers for buyers to snap up the 3G/4G models. No contracts, and easy to turn on/off the mobile broadband as needed right on the tablet. Consumers do not want, nor will they tolerate, another data contract. The monthly rates need to be cheap, too. This is one area in which Microsoft must copy Apple to the letter, or pay the consequences.