The cost of Microsoft’s Surface tablets

The New York Times‘ Nick Wingfield wonders if Microsoft has any hope of competing with Apple’s revolutionary iPad on price?

Apple’s acclaimed iPad 2 “starts at $399, while the third-generation iPad with a high-resolution Retina display starts at $499,” Wingfield writes. “That price proved hard for competitors to equal. When Motorola introduced its Xoom tablet, based on Google’s Android operating system, early last year, it priced the cheapest model without a wireless contract at $800. It steadily discounted the Xoom after that, but it never caught on. The cheapest PlayBook from Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, was the same price as the iPad. It, too, fizzled and is now on sale for as little as $199. Hewlett-Packard’s Touchpad couldn’t get under Apple’s pricing until after the company discontinued the product.”

Wingfield reports, “The only clue Microsoft gave about the price of the Surface was that the version of the product that ran on a class of chips call ARM would be competitive with similar tablets. It did not mention the best-known ARM-based tablet, the iPad, by name. The huge sales volumes Apple has in the tablet market give the company an enormous advantage in buying parts cheaply for the iPad, which gives the company greater flexibility in pricing the product for consumers.”

“Even if Microsoft does price Surface aggressively, it’s unclear how helpful that will be. In the smartphone market, the premier phone running Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system, the Lumia 900, is selling for $99 with a two-year contract, $100 less than the iPhone. The Lumia 900’s sales, so far, have fallen far short of expectations,” Wingfield reports. “In the tablet market, Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire also has not had the corrosive effect on Apple’s market share that many people predicted.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: People don’t want their iPads to be like notebooks. That’s why there are MacBook Airs and Pros. Neither do people want fake iPads with ill-considered twists, superfluous ports, and a silly kickstand, they want real iPads and the massive, vibrant ecosystem that goes with them.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dale E.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple’s revolutionary iPad vs. Microsoft’s anti-tablet ‘Surface’ – June 20, 2012
Microsoft’s Surface tablets provokes ‘sense of betrayal’ among Windows PC assemblers – June 20, 2012
Fox News: Copier Microsoft is doomed to fail with Surface tablet – June 19, 2012
Microsoft’s Surface tablet destined to be as successful as the Zune – June 19, 2012
Surface: Why Microsoft’s big mystery turns out to be a big mistake – June 19, 2012
Microsoft’s Suicide, er… ‘Surface’ – June 19, 2012
ZDNet Sr. Tech Editor Perlow: Microsoft’s Surface has catastrophe written all over it – June 19, 2012
Microsoft previews own ‘Surface’ tablet – June 18, 2012
Microsoft touts ‘major’ June 18 event said to showcase Windows RT tablets – June 15, 2012
ZDNet’s Kingsley-Hughes: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is an awful, horrible, painful design disaster – June 8, 2012
Analyst meets with big computer maker, finds ‘general lack of enthusiasm’ for Windows 8 – June 8, 2012
Dvorak: Windows 8 an unmitigated disaster; unusable and annoying; it makes your teeth itch – June 3, 2012
The Guardian: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is confusing as hell; an appalling user experience – March 5, 2012
More good news for Apple: Microsoft previews Windows 8 (with video) – June 1, 2011


    1. “You know, I’m a big believer in touch and digital reading, but I still think that some mixture of voice, the pen and a real keyboard – in other words a netbook – will be the mainstream on that.” B. Gates
      That, folks, is pretty much what the clown delivered.

  1. It’s the ecosystem, stupid! There are a couple of tablets, which, if the iPad stood alone, might not be bad competitors. Without the Apple ecosystem? sad losers, indeed!

    Apple’s competitors were four to five years behind the day the iPhone (then the iPad) was introduced. If you take the ecosystem into account, then they were almost a decade behind, and aren’t getting any closer.

    1. Microsoft tablets have double the number of ecosystems of the iPad, with separate ARM and Intel versions, with different capabilities and software support. I like their strategy, I like it a lot.

  2. While I DO agree about the excessive ports, I disagree on the the keyboard front. The main reason I don’t have a keyboard on my iPad is because it would add considerable bulk to the unit and the ones I’ve used are poorly implemented.

    Integrating a touch keyboard into an OPTIONAL cover seems like a genius move to me, especially since most everyone buys a cover and accessories have high margins.

    Microsoft has shown that it is more than willing to operate at a loss for a couple of years to build market share (XBox) and that it has the money and staying power to do so.

    MDN is right, though. A BIG part of this is the app market place. Apple currently is hands-down the leader in this space, but it’s all about the ones developing.

    Although developing for Apple is getting easier, historically and currently Microsoft still has built the better tools for developers. Saying that, you can’t beat the price of XCode… free.

    1. The “take a loss like the XBox” angle seems a bit suspect for this slablet. As I see it, although MS took a loss on the XBox itself (big loss with all the failures/replacements) , there are still the licensing fees they get from game developers so it wasn’t a total loss. Then there is the XBox Live subscription income, again aided by marketshare, which provides a continuous income stream.

      So my question is, what other income avenues will the Surface provide to offset a loss taken on the hardware just to increase marketshare? Am I missing something?

      1. That’s all fine and dandy MDN, and Logitech DOES make a good product. However, the Surface Cover is only 3mm thick. That’s 3x thinner than the ~9mm Ultrathin.

        The MS TypeCover is only 6.8mm and has the 1.5mm travel that laptops have. It’s an impressive piece of hardware, any way you look at it. They seem to have put a lot of though into it and I don’t discredit them for it.

  3. Even if people wanted to use iPads like notebooks/laptops, it’s not practical with Surface. With a laptop, the thickest/heaviest bit is the bit that is in contact with whatever you’re resting it on ie a table or your legs, the screen sticks out and is supported by the base. With Surface, the hardware is behind the screen, so any stability has to be provided by a stand, and the little stand on Surface looks like it wouldn’t be particularly stable when on a person. An iPad would need a stand as well, but most solutions involve a keyboard/stand solution which give it the stability of a traditional laptop.

  4. Success in business always comes down to the three F’s:
    Be the FIRST to market or have the FINEST product or you’re F’D.
    For Microsoft and all other tablet peddlers Apple has a firm lock on both FIRST and FINEST. Sucks to be you!

  5. I bought a cheap stand and use our family iPad on the kitchen table like a little touch iMac…no power apps, just about 10 convenient quick info apps that help our day. When we go to church or mobile in the van, my wife slidess it into a little to go case. The only better situation would be to have two…now we can’t live without it…but can live without slow Google Maps.

  6. Someone has yet to point out how Surface is going to handle the file system. If one Surface model has a full Windows experience, that would mean that the file system is going to take up a large local storage allocation. How is this in any way beneficial?

    1. Right. MS believes that people want the desktop experience on their tablets (that is my understanding of what Surface will have). They believe that Apple iPad/apps are a compromise that Apple accepted to make their tablet work.

      In the consumer space, I believe iOS actually creates a user experience that seems accessible to the tech disinclined. Making it more like a desktop is actually going to scare away some segment of the consumer tablet market.

      It will be interesting to see if Surface actually competes with Apple, or with windows ultranooks. I don’t think both

  7. I just can’t see how Microsoft or anyone for that matter can catch up. Apple is so far ahead and continue to innovate at such a high rate it’s impossible to catch them, unless you can beat them on price, which doesn’t seem possible.

    Apple clearly learned with the Mac, the sugarwater bozo went for price and margin, Apple is holding price and reaping margin as volumes increase 10’s fold each quarter.

    It’s shocking that the stock market can’t seem to figure this out.

  8. I think the key to Microsoft’s strategy is based on having allies in the IT departments of thousands of companies — especially the biggest ones.

    Balmer is counting on those IT allies to persuade, beg, cajole, or by other means influence CEOs to purchase several billion Surface units per year.

  9. It’s so much easier to understand the device, when you remember the name is not a noun, but a verb.
    To surface – this is a floater. Fits right in with the brown Zune

    1. Good point.

      Regarding nomenclature, the earlier Surface was nicknamed Big Ass Table.

      Now, we have a Surface that is neither Big nor Table, leaving only Ass.

      As an homage to an early cinematic depiction of tablet computing, which was in 2001 A Space Odyssey, we could use the term Heuristic Algorithmic Tablet.

      Presenting: AssHAT.

  10. I bought an Apple Certified Refurbished iPad 2 for just $319.

    They have full 1-year warranty and allow buying AppleCare. Also, they include a brand new battery and outer shell.

    Try to beat that price, Microsoft!

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