To no one’s surprise, Microsoft will be releasing its own line of tablets, called Surface, and, while its tablet cover/keyboard is a pretty darn cool spin on things, I am not sure how the actual tablet will do. My issue with tablets is that Apple has, for all intents and purposes, done so well on its first go-around that the iPad has become synonymous with the category. The same can be said for the likes of Thermos or Kleenex, the brands so engrained in the markets their brand is often interchanged as the product itself.
So far, some manufacturers have tried their hand in the tablet market, but they seem to fight over the scraps and never make up ground against Apple. So far, there has been Sony, Samsung, Amazon, Dell and a few others. Some of them are better suited and have more brand permission releasing a tablet than Microsoft.
The tablet comes at a time when Microsoft is making some nice strides that can set it apart. It new Smart Glass is one of those things. It is fresh and, with additional “like” offerings, Microsoft is setting a foundation on which it can create a rebranded image for the company.
Tablets, however, are another story. This late in the game, you aren’t seen as being terribly innovative if you come out with only slight modifications (especially by one considered to be a software manufacturer that often makes things complex or, to be snarky, came out with Zune). You have to defend your product against an overwhelming category leader that has the best brand in the industry (in the world, really).
For Microsoft, there is some opportunity in the tablet market if it can find the highest emotional intensity and align itself with it it to give consumers the switching trigger they need to make the jump. Unfortunately, I think the market leader already has it.
There are a lot of things I see Microsoft doing that feel right, but tablets feel wrong. To regain some of the clout, it needs a game-changer.
Even though there are aspects if it that are cool, this ain’t it.