Microsoft to reboot tablet effort with new Surface
AFPWASHINGTON -- A year after its flubbed tablet introduction, Microsoft is back with a new Surface.
September 23, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
The U.S. tech giant, which has invited media to a launch in New York, is seeking to correct missteps from its first try and gain a foothold in the tablet market dominated by Apple's iPad and others using the Google Android operating system.
Details of the new device were not known, but many analysts expect a more powerful Surface tablet to help Microsoft build momentum in mobile computing.
Microsoft, which is trying to shift its focus to “devices and services” to better compete with Apple and Google, barely made a dent in the sizzling tablet market since introducing the first-generation Surface in October.
The company has not released sales figures, but reported tablet revenues of just US$853 million in the fiscal year ended in June. Research firm IDC said Microsoft sold 900,000 in the first quarter of the year — a market share of just 1.8 percent — and even fewer in the second quarter. Apple by comparison sold some 34 million iPads in the first half of 2013.
Microsoft was forced to take an embarrassing US$900 million writedown for “inventory adjustments” due to weak sales of the new tablet, which has a basic version and a more expensive “Pro” model.
Will Things be Different this Time?
Rob Enderle, analyst and consultant with Enderle Group, said he expects the new tablets to be much improved.
“This new release should be massively better than the first one. The trick will be getting folks to look at the product fresh,” he told AFP.
Enderle said the first version “was too heavy, too expensive and had poor battery life,” and the upgraded Surface Pro lacked a key element, the Outlook email program.
Microsoft appears to have fixes these issues and now has a chance to gain some traction with a device that aims to serve as a tablet with some of the functionality of a laptop PC.
“Right now, people don't want to carry a large tablet and laptop,” said Enderle.
“If you can consolidate into one product, it lightens your load and it's a lot cheaper.”