Well the rumors came true: Microsoft Inc. (MSFT) revealed its very own tablet, called the Surface, yesterday evening.
As I mentioned yesterday, the tablet market is exploding, so there is a big payoff for grabbing even just a little market share from more established players. And there’s no question that for new players, the tablet to beat is Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iPad. So now that we have the details on Microsoft’s Surface, let’s see how it stacks up against the iPad and whether it has a shot at nibbling at some of the iPad’s 72% market share.
To start, Microsoft has attempted to differentiate itself from the competition in a few ways. First, while the Surface is thinner than the iPad, it still manages to include two full-sized USB ports. There are few tablets on the market that can make this claim.
The tablet also stands out because it includes a cover with a built-in kickstand and a fully functional keyboard with built-in track pad. iPad users that want to type on their tablets need to buy a separate keyboard case from third-party vendors.
Finally, 32GB and 64GB versions of the tablet will run on Windows RT, which is essentially a tablet-centric version of Windows 8; larger sizes will be powered by Windows 8 Pro. Windows 8 was developed with touch screens in mind and will probably more intuitive to existing Windows users. Another plus is that the Surface will come standard with a touch-optimized version of Microsoft Office.
So the Surface will undoubtedly gain some traction with students and in the office, but it’s still unlikely that it will pose too much of a threat to the iPad. Even with its super-thin design, the Surface will still be heavier than the iPad. Also the Surface won’t be able to come close to the iPad in terms of apps. And most importantly, we still don’t know how much the Surface will cost or whether the tablet will have any cellular connectivity.
To sum it up, while the Surface has kept all eyes on the tablet market, I don’t expect this new competition to shake Apple’s hold on the tablet market.