The Internet is all abuzz with articles about how the Microsoft Surface — Microsoft’s upcoming tablet laptop thingie — could easily be priced at $199, but it totally, like, shouldn’t. All the computer manufacturers who pay to install Microsoft’s software on their laptops will be sad. They could charge a lot more for it and anyway, making it cheap would cheapen the brand.
Wait, wait, wait… just stop me here when I understand what’s wrong here. You don’t want Microsoft to price its hot new technology competitively because it might hurt Acer’s feelings?
Oh hell no. I’m sorry, Acer does not get a vote on this one. The consumer does. And while I doubt the high-end Windows 8 Surface will cost $200, the low budget Windows RT one should come as close to that price point as possible.
Why? Well, let’s start with the problem Microsoft is facing: Getting people to buy their products.
Microsoft’s name is universally associated with expensive piles of fecal code riddled with bugs. That’s not really a fair perception anymore, but the sins of the father OSes are inflicted upon its sons. The only way to get past that perception is to reduce financial risk.
Secondly, $200 is the sweet spot. The Nexus 7 has done something that a lot of the OEMs have been promising to do for years but have never even come close to pulling off: Selling like an iPad. At the very least they’ll move 6 million by the end of the year, far and away more sales than any Android tablet could dream of. Granted, it’s a spectacular piece of machinery, but the fact that it costs half of what an iPad does is part of what’s pushing so many out the door.
Thirdly, yes, OEMs like Acer and Lenovo rightfully dread the company that provides them with most of the software on their computers getting into hardware, but Microsoft shouldn’t care about their feelings for two reasons. First of all, it’s not like they can just jump ship to Canonical: Ubuntu can’t even play Netflix Streaming, for God’s sake. Could they go Android? Probably, but they’d have to write their own code and it wouldn’t be business friendly. They’d also suddenly be competing with Chromebooks.
The entire reason that Microsoft is even doing this in the first place is the OEMs are screwing up big time. Seriously. Microsoft didn’t engineer its own tablet because they thought it would be neat. It engineered its own tablet because all the people churning out Windows laptops and desktops frankly cannot make a tablet worth using.
Their misadventures in Android prove the point. You notice ASUS, the manufacturer of the Nexus 7 and the Transformer Prime, doesn’t seem to care about Microsoft entering the market. The only people who hate the Surface are the people who had years, billions of dollars, and a free OS to do it, and who blew it.
I don’t normally think Microsoft should be a bully but here I think they should take the OEMs behind the dumpster and pound their faces in. Maybe then they’ll look at what consumers actually want… and try to make it.
image courtesy Microsoft