Friday, November 16, 2012

One initial reaction to Microsoft Surface: it’s not what consumers (or the enterprise) want

Our CEO Peter Badger was on the road in New York during the recent new tablet announcementpalooza.  On Tuesday of that week came the iPad Mini and a fourth-generation regular-sized iPad (though a lot of people missed that second one entirely). Then on Friday of that same week, to much/some/a bit of fanfare, the Microsoft Surface arrived on the scene.
At Framehawk, we’re definitely gadget freaks.  If there’s a new mobile device, someone in the office has it on Day One.  For example, Peter unboxed his just-released iPad 3 during one of our staff meetings a few months back.
So, we’re certainly not going to let that week’s gadgetfest go by unnoticed.  We haven’t gotten our hands on an iPad Mini yet, but Peter had a chance to try out the Surface.  And, well, let’s just say the review wasn’t glowing.  His comments:
"I played with the Microsoft Surface tablet today and it is seriously lacking.  Usability was terrible. I couldn't navigate to the home page, to apps, or within apps. Crazy side menu pop-ups appeared in random ways.”
Those who know Peter know that he is a big proponent of Apple, but his disappointment with the new Microsoft tablet was more about how he thought the average person would react.  And the impact that would have on the enterprise:
“Yes, I am an Apple fanboy, but I've got to tell you, this thing is in for a rough ride with consumers.  And without that consumer interest, the Surface won't be the challenge to iPad and Android in the enterprise that Microsoft wants it to be.”
According to Peter, though, Apple didn’t hit it out of the park that week either (unlike a certain Panda).
“Of course, Apple's not perfect:  WiFi only for now for the iPad Mini?  I haven't seen it yet, but come on.  That's a bit of a let-down."
The market will decide, of course, what the right form-factor and feature choices are.  IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell predicted “huge sales and lots of confusion” for tablets over the next few months, with a chance for Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Google’s Nexus 7 to make some inroads, but Apple to maintain the lionshare of the market.
Mike Elgan’s Datamation article last week also sided with the iPad Mini over the Surface.  Elgan said that while the Surface is cool and has Microsoft on the right track, the iPad Mini should outsell it 10:1 in the next 6 months based on the price, the keyboard, apps, maturity, and a bad consumer reputation for Microsoft.
As you try out these devices yourself, let us know what you think.  We’ll keep doing the same.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

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