Foldable phones are the next big thing, according to many in the tech press. This is one of those product categories like AR Headsets- they are perpetually 6-12 months around the corner. If you ask Mike Elgan, Microsoft’s foldable Surface device, reportedly codenamed Andromeda, is poised to take over the world and make the iPad and other tablets irrelevant. Well, I don’t make a habit of listening a guy who still insists that Google Glass was a success, and that Apple got the smartwatch all wrong by not focusing on the enterprise market before targeting consumers for advice on where the mobile technology puck is headed next.
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.
The latest Microsoft TV ad for their clickety clackety keyboard wielding Surface tablets features a teacher talking happily about how all his students have the new MS tablet.
He emphasizes that the tablets have Office and a ‘real’ keyboard – ‘so they can do real work’. They doing real work is the recurring strapline for all of the Surface TV ads – because allegedly the silly iPad can’t do any.
A couple of questions spring to mind here:
— When’s the last time you heard a young student say ‘Boy I wish my school would help me do more real work’?
— When’s the last time anyone heard of any major school or school district using Surface tablets? Oh, I know – never.
The iPad has recently been said to hold a 94% share in the education arena in the US. And I’d happily major that the vast majority of the remaining 6% is taken by Android tablets. Which would leave Microsoft and the Surface with a miniscule percentage at best – just as their overall market share for tablets is.
It baffles me that anyone at Microsoft thinks THIS is an area for them to try to brag about.
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.