Debating the Microsoft Tablet (Part I):Is there a strategy in the first place?
The Apple iPad has sold of 3.3 million units and the party for Apple has just begun. ABI research forecasts Apple to sell as many as 11 million iPads this year.
The iPad has opened a huge new market and the Tablets are billed to be one of the fastest growing segments of this decade, beside smartphones. Apple has taken a pole position which would be difficult to better, but competition from other OEMs and Android 3.0 Gingerbread will only kick in late this year or early next year Apple a huge first mover advantage.
While one Steve (Jobs) delivers products extraordinaire and is taking his company (Apple Inc.) to hitherto unknown levels, the other Steve (Ballmer) frets, stabs, promises, commits, flounders and makes a mockery of his company (Microsoft).
Steve Ballmer admits that a Tablet is “job one” at Microsoft. Steve Ballmer is confident about Microsoft’s future in the tablet market, and goes as far as to take a stab at the iPad by pointing out that the Microsoft tablet will be able to print documents. Even as Microsoft can’t give an estimate as to when we can expect to see a tablet from their company, Ballmer has stated that the tablet will be ready “as soon as they’re ready”, and “it ain’t a long time from now.” Ballmer claims that Microsoft must take its time to get the product just right which is a subtle indication that Microsoft is nowhere close to producing a tablet. Even the new Intel processor, “Oak Trail” that is supposed to power the Windows tablet, isn’t expected to hit the production line until next year.
Given Mr. Ballmer own outline strategy for the tablet, it’s apparent that Microsoft has no set strategy. As it is, Microsoft will face numerous issues adapting Windows 7 for tablets. Apple’s iOS was designed from the ground up with touch screen devices in mind, while Windows 7 was conceived as an OS for a keyboard-and-mouse equipped PC. Even while Windows 7 is a vast improvement over the disaster that was Vista, but given Microsoft’s recent track record (think…Kin) it is difficult to imagine an outstanding Windows 7 tablet debuting in the near future. Microsoft may take a leaf or two from its Microsoft Surface project and NUI thoughts. But presently it is extremely unclear how mature are these two platforms to support a product of the scope and scale of an iPad.
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