When Microsoft originally announced its intention to mass produce its Surface tablet computer system, it sent the technology world into a tizzy. However, the one question that the press and technology enthusiasts alike begged to have answered revolved around what could be expected in the way of specifications for this new product. The fact that Microsoft failed to answer this question led many bloggers who covered the unveiling to question the rewards of buying into the new Windows 8 toy. So, after reading many of these comments, I recall thinking to myself that this product isn’t ready for consumer scrutiny and that the press conference must have been one of the following:
- A great dog and pony show.
- A smoke and mirrors presentation.
- A Barnum & Bailey sneak peek. (Yes, there is in fact a sucker born every minute.)
Since that press conference, Microsoft has released the following information about its Surface tablet computer:
- Windows 8, the operating system being installed on the Surface tablet, will be released to the masses on October 26, 2012.
- Upgrading to the new Windows 8 operating system will only cost you $39.99. This inexpensive upgrade will be made available to consumers currently operating their systems with XP, Vista, or Windows 7.
- Five companies have been selected to produce the new Windows 8 computers.
So while Microsoft dragged its feet on disclosing its marketing plan and on relating the specifics of what the consumer could expect to be offered with the Surface computer, Lenovo introduced its original IdeaPad. Its unveiling occurred at CES in January 2012, under the code name Yoga.
It appears that Yoga was well received and was able to intrigue viewers with the way that it combined the best features of both a tablet and a laptop. The company was also quite up front with what the consumer could expect from the 16 GB model that is regularly priced at $499. The specifications include the following:
- CPU — Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060A processor
- OS — Android 4.0
- Memory — 1.0 GHz
- Display — 10.1″ SD LED Glossy multi-touch with integrated camera 1280 x 800
- Storage — 16 GB
- ThinkPad 11.b/g/n Wi-Fi
- Front 1.3 MP, rear 5.0 MP cameras
Note: If you are in the market for an Android-powered system from Lenovo, I would wait until Lenovo offers the same unit on sale. Interestingly enough this unit with dock was on sale just this last week for $100 less. I believe this is a fair price point and will make Lenovo competitive with other tablets and laptops currently on the market.
Another tidbit of information that might interest you in these rival units is that yesterday a CNET blip referenced an alleged price leak from Microsoft that its Surface computers will hit retail stores at a price point of $1,000 to $2,000 (or more). Upon hearing this, my first thoughts were:
- I can buy a full-blown, full-featured laptop for under $500.
- The best tablet on the market, the Apple iPad, sells for $500.
- The Lenovo IdeaPad sells for $500.
With that being the case, why would I want to spend twice as much for a Microsoft product? I totally fail to see Microsoft’s logic behind this type of pricing scheme. I truly don’t believe that Windows 8, with its Metro interface, can offer a big enough improvement over Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android to command double the price.
My feeling is that Microsoft hasn’t done its homework. If the company had, it would realize that it is facing stiff competition from two sources. The first of these, according to androidcentral, is that Intel has confirmed that it will fine tune its Atom processor for Google’s Android. The second source is taken from PCMag, which reported on the little known Chinese-based Shadow Tablet Market. This market is set to produce and deliver a slew of cheap, inexpensive Android-powered tablet computers. Once again, when one considers our currently fragile economic environment, it is easy to see Lenovo’s competitive strategy at play against the Microsoft empire when it comes to positioning its price point in a favorable light. With that being said, my question is why Microsoft would price its newest and greatest out of the middle class market.
Going back to the Shadow Tablet Market, you may recall a recent article that I posted, entitled How Good is an $89.99 7″ Android 4.0 Tablet Computer? The article contained a positive review of a no-name cheap Android-powered tablet computer with a keyboard/case that I had purchased from Amazon for under $90. In the article, I noted how surprised I was to see how well this inexpensive system functioned using Ice Cream Sandwich, as well as the fact that I found (despite its low-end hardware) that I actually had more fun using it than I had using my Amazon Kindle Fire.
My favorable experience may also explain why it is estimated that this no-name, no-brand, white-boxed market will account for over 40 million tablets being sold in 2012. Also of interest is the fact that the newest of these non-branded tablet computers will use an Android operating system — some even offering Google’s Android Ice Cream Sandwich. For us geeks out there, this says a lot since ICS is a vast improvement over previous Android versions. However, we also accept the fact that it is just a step upward since the latest Android release, Jelly Bean, comes pre-installed on the new Google Nexus 7. One can’t help but note that Jelly Bean is a pleasure to use and works extremely well on the Nexus 7.
What Does All of This Information Mean for Microsoft?
First, let me say that there are already enough articles written about the pros and cons of upgrading to Windows 8. However, since one of my one of my fellow writers here at LockerGnome asked me if I was going to upgrade my Windows 7 computers to Windows 8, let me share my thoughts with you.
Remember, my computer days go way back. In fact, my first computer came installed with Windows 3.11. Until now, I have upgraded or purchased a computer with every version of Windows (except for Windows ME). However, since none of my laptops support touch screen technology, I have no intention of upgrading to Windows 8.
Given this, can Microsoft compete with Lenovo? I don’t know, especially since Microsoft has not confirmed pricing for any of its Surface computers. One would hope that Microsoft comes in with a pricing scheme to keep it competitive in a tight tablet marketplace, but it is coming into the tablet game late; it has a lot of catching up to do. In other words, Microsoft’s success or failure will be determined by how well the company demonstrates a real desire to be competitive with the likes of Lenovo, Apple, Amazon, and Google.
What do you think?
Comments, as always, are welcome.