Microsoft Surface RT - an inherently flawed product?
Just a few days ago I was in a Staples store with my mother-in-law. She is back at school and needs a new laptop and wants a tablet like the iPad. She'd seen the surface commercials and thought they were cool, but didn't really know what they were.
So, being an avid follower of the Surface and owner of the iPad, I set out to explain the difference.
First I showed her Windows 8 on a Samsung Ativ PC with a stylus. She really liked it because of what a stylus can do for her to help her design. She liked the touch gestures and screen size, but not the general design of the tablet.
So I led her over to take a look at the Surface.
At the small Surface shelf, I proceeded showed her the Surface RT on display (which obviously had not been updated) and she was blown away. She loved the keyboards, the kickstand, and especially the USB and SD ports. She even pointed out that the iPad had none of these. I showed her the built-in apps and Microsoft Office products - which she loved as well. The only problem was with the touch cover typing accuracy - a small one, but the problem vanished very quickly when I open my iPad and started pecking at the actual screen. I never realized how dumb that felt until I was sitting next to the Surface.
So what blew the Surface RT for her?
May I now introduce my point: Windows RT.
After a somewhat confusing discussion about what the Surface RT can and can not run, I realized that Windows RT has a big problem sitting between it and the average consumer:
The Surface with Windows RT is a compromised Windows laptop and not a superior tablet.
While it is true that it has more features and capabilities than the iPad and various Android tablets, it is not viewed as a superior tablet. Yes, it has a familiar Windows design, yes, it has a full file system, yes it has compatibility with millions of accessories, yes it has expandable storage, a good screen, good battery life, and even Microsoft Office - but the average buyer doesn't look at it like that. The average user looks at the Surface with Windows RT as a compromised laptop - a computer that won't let them install their favorite programs, games, or tools. It is a dysfunctional laptop instead of an amazing tablet.
When I informed my mother-in-law about the Surface Pro with the digitizer, power, and similar build, she was sold... Until I mentioned the price. Even after the fact, she still wanted to buy one. Maybe that's what everyone is waiting for: a tablet that truly has no compromise.
So, in Summary:
1. I believe the Surface RT is not selling because it is seen as a compromised laptop rather than a hybrid tablet.
2. The true uncompromised tablet - the Surface Pro is still too expensive for the average tablet buyer.
How Microsoft needs to Respond:
1. Change the ARM product to something that does not resemble traditional Windows, but keep the windows features such as the file system and USB device support.
2. Release a Surface Atom - a device that may be underpowered but can still run traditional programs. Give the public an uncompromised tablet with a superior design at a reasonable price - $549 including the keyboard. Make the price markup for power and not functionality.
3. Make the Surface Pro the device everyone wants and needs. In simple: deliver a complete, wonderful product.