Originally Posted by ViewPoints
Microsoft Surface Vs. Apple iPad: It's No Contest
VIDEO: Microsoft is selling itself as an innovator. Nothing could be further from the truth. Functionality matters most, and this is where Apple has and, I think, will continue to dominate.
by Terry Nakagawa, Viewpoints Tech Expert
So with great fanfare last week, Microsoft introduced its entry into the tablet segment. But after watching the keynote introduction (hosted by Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer) I'm left scratching my head: What's new?
From what I can see (and a lot of others too like tech blogger Bob Cringely and New York Times columnist David Pogue) the Surface is a me-too product that's already filled with me-too Android offerings. Actually, there is a difference, because the Surface will be running Microsoft Windows 8 and Windows RT. But neither of these OSes is ready for prime time. Hmmmmmm....The other thing that struck me while watching the keynote was that Microsoft seems to think that tablets are a NEW category and that they've caught lightning in a bottle. The Surface tablet is THIN! It's LIGHT! And the COVER MAGNETICALLY CONNECTS to the tablet! Wow.
In fact, Ballmer was going to extreme lengths to convince attendees and viewers alike that Microsoft is an innovator. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Why the Surface is no big deal
When you look at the Surface, one of the first failings is that Microsoft thinks it can out-iPad the iPad by offering not one but two tablets: one for consumers and one for business. In fact, each tablet isn't just running a different OS, it's running different processors. This is typical Microsoft.
As I've mentioned before, Microsoft's greatest failing is that everything it does is to preserve Windows and the desktop. Its view of the world is that it is flat, and everyone who doesn't think it's flat just doesn't get it. Their segmentation of the tablet market is a clear indicator that they believe that functionality can be compromised between consumers and business users. Guess what? It's not. As we are seeing in the explosive growth of tablets, it's functionality that matters most along with a verdant ecosystem, and this is where Apple has and, I think, will continue to dominate.
Then there's the keyboard
This, supposedly, is where Microsoft thinks it has established differentiation. But, in reality, it's another example of how Microsoft sees the world from a desktop perspective. In Microsoft's mind, EVERYBODY needs to have a PHYSICAL keyboard in order to have a really functional tablet, right? And Microsoft thinks this way because they see the tablet as just another notebook computer, albeit smaller, and requiring the same hardware to make it work (I kinda was disappointed that they didn't introduce a mouse to go along with the keyboard).
The last time I checked, the sales of iPads and Motorola Xooms and Samsung Galaxy tablets weren't being hindered by NOT having a physical keyboard.
People use tablets differently than desktop computers
Obviously, portability is the key. The work or things that they're doing don't mandate having to work at a desk, tied to a single locale. There's more browsing and web-enabled applications. In other words, using Microsoft Office is not a killer app for tablets. And in the enterprise, specifically healthcare, I think Apple's Retina Display is what's going to matter most to doctors wanting to view CT scans and X-rays on the go. And you don't need a physical keyboard (or a mouse) to do that kind of work.
So why is Microsoft going to fail in this category?
Because Microsoft IS NOT an innovator. And Steve Ballmer is far from a tech visionary. Look at all the innovations in the past 25 years and Microsoft has always been a laggard or an outright failure: Graphical User Interfaces, web browsing, online search, Windows ME, Windows 98, Vista, mobile phones and mp3 music players (does anyone remember the Zune, and do you know anyone who actually BOUGHT one?).
The proof comes from Ballmer's own words in interviews over the years where he has serially dissed the iPhone and more recently the iPad as not competitive. Check out his reaction to the iPhone when it was introduced in 2007. And note his commentary on how the Zune was doing. This video is from 2007.
And finally, check out this video from the 2010 All Things D conference where Steve Ballmer talks about the future of computing. You can see why the Surface is what it is, which is, at best, a compromise and at worse just a PC in a different form factor.
So, when you get right down to it, there's nothing new in the Surface that hasn't been on the market for the past two years. Oh wait, there's a USB port on the side, wow, that'll make a difference. That's why, as usual, Microsoft is more than a day late and a dollar short. Although they will do their best to convince you otherwise.
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Terry Nakagawa is a Chicago-based technology marketing veteran with more than 20 years of industry background. He has been involved in launching products that have been at the forefront of innovation from broadband and wireless to unified communications.