Is there a place for second premium device on tablet market?
First one is an iPad of course. The one and only. Great device, no doubt. There is iPad and there are other tablets. Cheap ones and expensive ones. Is there any expensive non iOS device which made a commercial success? The answer is NO.
"Average consumer with money"
iPad success is not about specs, features, apps, possibilities – IMHO. Of course retina display is great, apple app store is second to none, built quality is excellent and OS is fluid and fast. But when I’m looking at an average iPad user, he doesn’t look tech savvy (no offence intended). He uses a browser, facebook, twitter, Instagram, iTunes and other simple apps. VPN? FTP? Remote desktop? Office? Who cares… Of course all these basic tasks can be done on any android tablet. Much cheaper tablet. So why they are choosing the iPad? Because of a display? App store? Fluid OS? Because of features? NO (in general). Because they can afford it. It feels premium. It’s a status symbol. It has a mindshare. Because they own an iPhone. People who have money will (almost) always choose "best tablet on the market". I guess that 80% of iPad users don’t know a name of any other tablet. They go to a store and ask for an iPad. Tablet = iPad. They’re not Apple fanboys. They just don’t know a lot about tech and market. iPad is the only tablet device they know.
"Average consumer on limited budget"
There’s a second big group of consumers. They just can’t afford 500-700$ device. That’s why the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire succeeded. And these are the only two devices that succeed on the market. Why? Because of Android and its customization? Because of mouse support? Because of the specs? No. Because these devices can do (almost) everything that iPad can and are 300-400$ cheaper. Tese people aren’t tech savvy either – they just looking for a cheap device from an established company (Asus, Amazon, Samsung…).
"Tech enthusiasts / fanboys"
Tech savvy people are 2-5% of all tablet owners and consist 90% of tech forums members… They are starting flame wars, discussing about specs, features, apps, marketing, etc… They arguing over remote desktop features, ftp clients, office apps, cloud computing, screen resolution, display sizes, aspect ratios… They don’t realize that they are in a MINORITY. Almost nobody cares about that.
So is there a place for Surface (2)?
Surface is neither an iPad nor is cheap. And will never be cheap. So there’s only one way to sell an expensive device – make it desirable. Make it a status symbol. Gain mindshare. And this is V E R Y difficult and for now I can’t imagine a way Microsoft can do that. They can give Office, Skype calls, cloud space for free. They can bring great and useful covers. But unfortunately nobody cares. They want not only a premium, but also recognizable device. The only premium device they know is still iPad. Better advertising could solve this problem? I don’t think so. iPad is so popular not because of TV commercials. The "iPad phenomenon" happened once. iPad defined the market. Is there a chance to redefine it? Maybe. But it is a very hard job – Apple is considered premium, "good" brand and Microsoft is still a target for jokes and black PR. I wish them good luck. Sincerely. But for now we’re not even close to the "critical mass" needed to shake the market. Still not enough traction.
For me, the question is still open.
PS: Of course specs matter to some extent – slow, laggy iPad would never be a success. But first gen iPad wasn’t a speed demon either. The screen was poor by current standards. Apple created a new category – premium category.