Friday, 10 August 2012

Microsoft's first hardware venture, The Surface, launches October 26th. Already it's causing problems.

On October 26th, Microsoft will launch its new "Surface" tablet and on the same day, Windows 8 and Surface will run on Windows 8. It's their first venture really into hardware.

In reality, this is Microsoft's attempt to take on the Apple IPAD and head-on. A ridiculous thing to do and as you'll see from the video above, shows no innovation, no creativity. Although the tablet market is in growth, there's plenty of other spaces where Microsoft could have gone - Book readers for example against The Kindle - but oh no, Microsoft want to take on Apple.

Its introduction was announced in June by CEO Ballmer and now we have an official launch date, which has also upset its hardware partners. Acer said it was "negative for the whole industry" and it's assumed there's an underlying threat that Acer (and others) might abandon the Windows platform. If I was them I would, so would you.

After all, Microsoft were their partners, now they are their competitors.

One of the potential propositions of Surface, is that it will also replace your laptop. With an innovative keypad, multiple data ports, a kickstand and with an effort to draw in developers to produce Apps, it does move towards laptop replacement. Techcrunch have their hands on the device and actually were quite impressed with it. But that's not the point, it's the problems a venture into hardware manufacturing causes.

Another big issue is that it would seem Microsoft have adopted a closed selling distribution (not unlike Apple who sell through Apple stores only) forcing resellers to order directly from Microsoft. The lack of stores will prove a problem never mind the actions of upset retailers.

So it has caused major issue with hardware manufacturers who were also Microsoft partners and now channel resellers. 

It would seem they have a good product and possibly a switchover product for laptops therefore, with an opportunity to target business users.

However, the loss of retail support and the irritation of manufacturers (whom Microsoft need for Windows sales) seems a less-than-thought-out strategy. In a brazen attempt to take the Apple Ipad head-on, they've left gaps because hardware production, is not something they know. Apple do.

And that's the problem that I've seen many times.

If you're good at something, stay with it and consider long and hard, the effects of moving into a new space. I know enough about Microsoft's demise to lack confidence in their ability to pull this hardware venture off as I have blogged before here

There's an old saying in business.
Stick to the knitting.