Earlier today I read an article by Tom Warren at The Verge entitled Apple finally admits Microsoft was right about tablets. I wasn’t especially surprised considering that Warren has always been completely MS-centric. He’s a good writer and does his job well, but I he’s not the guy I look to for even-handed reporting.
As a full-time Windows user myself and someone who certainly doesn’t dislike the platform, I still heartily disagree with his take in this article.
And it’s a good thing for ALL of us
The iPad has been with us for almost 10 years now and the personal computer hasn’t died. If anything, Windows PC and Mac sales have recovered from past swoons. They aren’t growing as fast as they once did, but they are stable.
The Microsoft Surface has been around for close to 7 years, but all laptops haven’t suddenly adopted its unique 2-in-1 design. Some have, but the traditional laptop form factor is still with us today, and still makes up the majority of sales in the category. However, these facts do not change the fact that the Post-PC Era is very, very real.
I know what some of you are thinking. Why am I reviewing an accessory for the Surface Go on an Apple and iPad-centric site? Well, in case you haven’t seen, I have already written about the fact that I own a Surface Go on a couple of occasions. I picked one up right after the new device launched, and I liked it enough that I held onto it, and I still use it today. In fact, since I sold my iPad Pro in preparation for the coming new model over a month ago, I use my Go pretty often these days.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I picked up the higher end of the two Surface Go models right after release, along with a Type Cover and a Surface Pen. I’ve taken my time with the device, and used it in different situations to try to get a feel for it. Being that I am already a Windows user at work who’s had a Lenovo Yoga (original), Yoga 2, and Yoga 720 spanning the last five years, the experience certainly isn’t unfamiliar. The Yoga has been a very good touchscreen ultrabook line since the original, and I have no complaints with it as a laptop.
The Yogas can also be used as tablets, although that experience certainly leaves something to be desired. Frankly, a LOT to be desired. Ultimately, my ambivalence toward touch on Windows based on my experience with what is a good, high-end touchscreen convertible device kept my interest in Microsoft’s Surface products low over the years.
So I ended up returning the Pixelbook that I picked up to review and wrote about a couple of weeks ago. This was more of a false start than a failure, though. I hit day 14 (BestBuy’s last day to return) without being able to say if it was something I would be willing to part with $1000 for, or if I would even be able to take a small monetary hit to have it for a while and then sell it for less. The fact is, I just wasn’t able to spend as much time with the device as I had hoped, and couldn’t be sure about it. It’s better to safe than sorry in that case, but I can’t say that I won’t go back any try again later on.
Here are a few things that I did glean from my brief time with the device:
Before Apple’s stock price soared to even greater heights this week thanks to strong iPhone sales, growing services revenues, and rumors of spectacular devices to come, we got the bad news about iPad sales. During Apple’s quarterly sales call two weeks ago, we learned that sales were down 19% percent and revenue down 22% over last Q1, meaning not even the impressive iPad Pros have been able to overcome the forces of market saturation, slow upgrade cycles, and the encroachment of large screen smartphones.
Tim Cook keeps telling us that Apple remains committed to the platform, and to their credit, Apple has kept adding form factors and features to the lineup (and we hear more are on the way). However, the iPad’s glory days seem a distant memory, and it is now clearly a secondary device to the company’s true money maker- the iPhone.
Following its big recent price cuts on the Surface RT tablet line, Microsoft has now dropped the price for its Surface Pro tablets by $100.
As The Verge reports, Microsoft has confirmed that customers in 5 countries – the US, Canada, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan – will pay $100 less for the Surface Pro between August 4th and August 29th.
The price cut affects both the 64GB Surface Pro, which now goes for $799, and the 128GB model, which is now available for $899.
Given the Surface’s current status as a major flop, it will not be at all surprising to see these price cuts become permanent sometime soon.
Lots more bad news for Microsoft and their Surface tablets this week. Microsoft’s most recent financial results filing (for their fiscal year that ended June 30 of this year) show a total of $853 million in revenue from Surface sales – which some are saying is less than they’ve spent on marketing for the Surface line.
BGR, along with many others, have declared the Surface a flop when referencing the Surface revenue numbers:
That figure doesn’t include the $900 million write-down it took or the huge amount of cash it spent on marketing and advertising, so Microsoft has clearly lost a substantial amount of money on its Surface bet so far — yes, the Surface is officially a flop.
The latest estimate of total Surface sales, by GeekWire, is just 1.7 million units sold. That’s 1.7 million sold in the 8 months since the first Surface release. For a little perspective, 3 million iPad minis were sold in 3 days at its launch time.
Over the years I’ve seen many Microsoft fans argue that the success of the iPhone / iPad / Apple themselves was largely down to marketing. Well, Microsoft have marketed the hell out the Surface line. They’ve ripped the iPad in their recent TV advertising and painted it as a far less useful device than the Surface.
Maybe they should focus more now on making a tablet that actually lives up to their hype.
Predictions and estimates offered last week for the early sales numbers for Microsoft’s Surface tablet line don’t paint a very pretty picture. They’re pretty bleak in fact – especially considering how heavily hyped and marketed the Surface RT and Surface Pro have been.
Here’s some details from a Bloomberg story on this:
Microsoft has sold little more than a million of the Surface RT version and about 400,000 Surface Pros since their debuts, according to three people, who asked not to be named because sales haven’t yet been made public. The company had ordered about 3 million Surface RTs, they said. Brent Thill, an analyst at UBS AG, had initially expected Microsoft to sell 2 million Surface RT devices in the December quarter alone.
Based on Apple’s last reported quarterly results it looks like more iPads are sold every week than the total number of Surface devices sold in four and half months (the Surface RT launched in late October of 2012 and the Surface Pro in early February of this year). If Bloomberg’s numbers are anywhere near accurate, then Surface is really not making much of a dent in the tablet arena at all.
I’ve got great news for you if you’re a fan of apples to watermelons type comparisons. There’s a wonderful iPad 3 vs. Surface head-to-head style review at a site called Trusted Reviews. Maybe it’s part of a new Fantasy Reviews section.
Seriously though, these guys have done a head-to-head review of the iPad 3, which is what is often referred to as a real product that’s been available to buy and use for over 3 months now, and the Surface – which cannot yet be bought or used or tested out in any meaningful way by anyone other than Microsoft staff working on it. Once again, Surface does not even have a release date or price tag as yet.
Beyond the comical nature of the comparison in general, I love that the Surface RT is deemed a slam dunk winner in the ‘connectivity’ section of the review. That’s the device that doesn’t exist yet, and which apparently has no cellular connectivity options, as a slam dunk winner over the iPad 3 with WiFI + 4G options. Great call there.
I also love that the conclusion section of the post says ‘It might be too early to call a winner …’. Wow, ya think? Think maybe you might want to wait for the Surface to be, I don’t know, released or something?
Image Source: The Verge
Yesterday evening Microsoft held a special event to announce their new tablet / PC called Surface. Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer described it as being a PC and a tablet – and also described it like so:
Something new, something different, it’s a whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft.
There’s already a Surface site with some details and specs on the Surface devices (there are two), a promo video and a photo gallery – give that a look to get a good introduction to Surface.
I followed several liveblogs covering the event last night and I’ve got some quick thoughts on Surface, based on what we’ve seen and heard so far. Here they are in no particular order:
Microsoft Still Hate the Idea of a Post-PC Era: Throughout the event there was a lot of emphasis on the importance of desktop apps and Windows (a desktop OS) and on Surface being both a PC and a tablet, with PC even being mentioned first:
Because of Windows 8, the Surface IS a PC. The Surface IS a tablet