Microsoft Unveils Tablet ... When Will They Learn?
Research in Motion, Hewlett Packard, Samsung, Amazon, there is a long list of companies who have tried, and failed, to create a tablet computer that could compete with the monolith Apple iPad.
For some reason Microsoft has decided to take a swing at the champ with its newly released Surface tablet, or as it will likely become known, the Zune 2. The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may be a little crazy then, because much like its failed attempt to compete with the iPod by developing its own portable MP3 player, the Surface reeks of another futile attempt to create a successful digital media device.
You can't blame Microsoft for giving it a shot though. Every day new stories are written about the rapid growth of digital media consumption and the unprecedented sales of the iPad. However, at this point, trying to compete with Apple in the tablet market is a lost cause. The iPad has become synonymous with tablet computing much like how people ask for a Twizzler when they want licorice or say they are going to rent a U-Haul when they need a moving truck.
That brand ubiquity alone is enough to ensure Apple remains the king of tablets. Add on its ecosystem, which is unrivaled by any other tablet manufacturer not named Amazon, and the mountain becomes that much more difficult to climb. Plus, in Microsoft's case, that brand hasn't had much buzz around it for years. Windows is known as a clunky operating system and is susceptible to bugs and crashes. It isn't cool.
To its credit, Microsoft didn't repeat the mistake of most other manufactures by creating a 7" tablet, as the Surface measures 10.5 inches. Its design is receiving high marks and is beefy, but it won't matter. Where Microsoft really missed an opportunity was to be different. The Surface is already creating confusion about whether it is a new model PC or a tablet that will mostly be perceived as an iPad copy.
Ironically, Microsoft was on the right path in 2007 when it unveiled a 30-inch touchscreen tabletop. CNNMoney recalled the rollout at the CES show and how the device was gaining some traction in hotels and bars. The problem then was that the device cost $10,000, which is too expensive for mass consumption. However, not long ago a plasma television cost the same before drastically dropping in price to less than $1,000 for many models. The untapped market for tablet computing is going bigger than the iPad, not smaller.
If Microsoft, or any other manufacturer, really wants to make a dent in the tablet market, they need to be different than Apple instead of trying to beat it at its own game.
Ron Matejko is the President of Phoenix, Ariz.-based MVP Media, an award-winning digital publishing company. Matejko has 16 years of publishing experience in print, Web and mobile and has worked on the staff of two award-winning publications.
MVP Media publishes MVP Magazine, the first interactive sports publication, which won a Bronze 2010 Digital Magazine Award for Best Sports Magazine, besting entrants from 26 countries around the world, and was a finalist for Designer of the Year. MVP Media will launch its own magazines on the iPad in 2011.
MVP Media also helps existing publishers convert their print products into dynamic publications for the web and tablets. Visit the MVP Magazine website at www.mvptoday.com. Contact Ron by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with him on LinkedIn or on Twitter @mvp_media.