Why Surface Pro = Game Changer

Right now here’s your tablet market:

  1. Premium tablets = Original iPad all the other clones priced at >$500
  2. Budget tablets = Kindle Fire, Nook, and Nexuses priced at $200.  From a market standpoint, these tablets are competing with the iPad primarily based on price
  3. Mid-range tablets = iPad Mini with a $350 pricepoint.  Apple is in the process of creating this market through the power of its brand.

The Surface Pro introduces a something new – an ultrapremium market with a $1000 pricepoint.  Why can it do this?  Because it leverages something that the other markets don’t have – the ability to run both mobile and desktop ecosystems on one device.

Up to this point, your mobile devices have either had a mobile ecosystem (iPads with iOS) or a desktop ecosystem (Tablet PC’s running XP Touch or Win 7).  The latter is a big joke – skinning a Touch UI and forcing a tablet to pretend it’s a desktop.  The former works but has drawbacks.

The biggest drawback to the mobile ecosystem is the software on it sucks compared to the software on desktops.  I’m sure a lot of people with iPads have wondered, hmmm I wonder if I can use my iPad to do X application, only to find that either

  1. There’s no app for it
  2. There’s an app for it but it’s crippled compared to its desktop equivalent
  3. There’s an app for it but you have to jump through hoops just to do the simplest things

So a company that attempts to fix this problem has leverage over existing tablet makers.  There are economic reasons for mobile software being so crappy and I’ll get into it in another post but if you want the gist of it, go read my post on why Apple Will Never Kill Nintendo.

By merging both the mobile ecosystem and with the desktop ecosystem, Microsoft is solving this problem and creating something new.   A tablet that can offset the crummy software on mobile with the option to use desktop quality software.

Here are the tablets of the past and present:

  • Tablet PC’s and Win 7 Slates = Desktop ecosystem forced on tablet HW
  • iPad, Fire, Nexus, Nook = Mobile ecosystem on a tablet, but since it’s mobile only, and mobile software has turned into a budget market, you’re stuck with all the limitations of an ecosystem that can produce a million flashlight apps but not one word processor with an equation editor
  • Surface RT = same thing as the iPad without any leverage over it except a crippled version of MS Office, which is why it’s dumb
  • Surface Pro = Mobile and Desktop ecosystems on a tablet for the first time ever, and you can correct the deficiencies of one by switching to the other

The biggest limitation for desktop ecosystem deployment on a tablet is the absence of a keyboard and mouse.  The iPad has you “solve” the keyboard problem by lugging around a bluetooth keyboard (AKA piece-mealing your own tablet hybrid).  Apple was never able to “solve” the mouse problem since it eliminated the pointer from iOS.  So if you run an iOS Word Processing program like Pages, which is based on a desktop UI, you end up having to lift your hand every 10 sec to poke the screen, which is retarded.  That trackpad/keyboard type cover solves this problem rather elegantly I think.  It’s integrated in the system, it doesn’t get in the way, it doesn’t add much bulk but it adds 100% desktop functionality.

So what is the Pro?  People are saying you should be comparing it to ultrabooks, blah blah blah but you really shouldn’t  It’s an entirely new type of product.  There’s nothing out there that’s merged desktop with mobile on a slate form factor and has the marketing power behind it to alter the current market.  This is a first.

Which means if Microsoft is successful, it’ll be creating a brand new product space.   I call it the Ultrapremium submarket but who knows what people will call it.

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