So is that it, then?
It’s been a good few months now.
Nobody’s bought one.
Well, no one I know has.
And that, dear reader, is the reality check.
This viewpoint is hardly based on extensive research but I think everyone bar Microsoft’s various PR agencies can now nod their heads in unison to the statement that the Surface 2.0 is dead. Or dying. Or a seriously irrelevant also-ran.
I use the descriptor, “2.0”, to differentiate between the rather fancy touchscreen table that preceded the debacle that is — was — the Microsoft Surface tablet.
I was in Las Vegas twice last month. Such is life. This is what happens when you run innovation for a multinational exhibition firm (not any more, though). Both times I had to visit the Las Vegas Mall opposite the gorgeous, glorious Wynn Hotel. Inside this Mall there’s a semi-permanent open store in the main thoroughfare dedicated to The Surface.
What a depressing sight it was. Twice.
It was absolutely shocking.
I stood nearby admiring the technology — near enough so I could hear the puzzled comments from the passing tourists, most of them Americans. I really did feel for the sales executives who, it seemed, had to put up with a constant barrage of questions “about these iPads.”
At one point I witnessed a tourist ask if the store had any iPads in stock. With practiced resignation, the sales chap standing behind the desk pointed left, announcing that, “the Apple Store is just past the escalators.”
Now and again I hear about the possibility of organisations considering using the Surface as a platform that they can do business on. I haven’t seen many concrete examples yet though.
I actually recommended one to my father-in-law who was after a tablet that would run Word.
I haven’t used one for any length of time. I’ve not had the opportunity. I’ve not made the opportunity. I think that is a telling sign.
I remember hovering over the order button a little while ago when the Surface launched in the UK. I was about to spunk £500 of my own cash on one. But I hesitated. I’m used to having to do this. I’m used to having to put my money where my mouth is — and actually buy the equipment so I can give a qualified viewpoint. Often it’s possible to borrow one from a PR but there’s nothing like actually owning something to give it a proper run through.
I was quite surprised at how I reacted though. I was really surprised by my hesitation. I think I was worried that it was just too much of a waste of money.
I’d no problem buying various tablets from all manufacturers, but when it came to the Surface, I had a strange sensation: Waste. I felt I could do more with the five hundred pounds.
That’s not a good situation for Microsoft — when a chap like me, normally profligate when it comes to buying technology, starts worrying about waste.
I don’t think I’ve seen one in the wild, yet.
I’ve heard from people with vaguely positive experiences to report. They’d only lived with one for a week — a review unit — but went back to their iPad immediately later.
It’s still £719 for the 64GB version of the Surface Pro. That’s a lot of smackers. That’s a serious decision for anyone when it comes to gadget territory. The 128GB is £799.
The RT is still £479 nowadays (£399 plus the touch cover thing). But who want as tablet with a ‘this is shit’ sticker on it? I never connected with the RT concept. I understood it. But I was never a fan. I’ll happily buy a 16GB iPad because it’s cheaper than a 64GB one. But I don’t feel any different beyond the difference in space. It’s a utility decision, right? If the guy next to me opts for the 64GB WiFI+4G version, nay bother.
It’s like cars. Manufacturers rarely make a version that’s clearly shitter than their main marque. At least, they don’t make the different crystal-flipping-clear. A BMW 100 series is … smaller than a BMW 300. But it’s a different purchase type. They’re not shitter. They’re different. Likewise with the individual product variations. One might be slightly faster, or have a better sports pack. They’re still BMWs.
So I wonder, is it time to call the end for the Surface? Temporarily at least.
What next for Microsoft? Another version? Another generation? A different pricing strategy?
If Microsoft had taken a haircut like Google did with the Nexus tablets (or Amazon with their Kindle Fires), I’d have probably taken a chance.
[For the sake of balance -- yes, we are occasionally at home to that here at Mobile Industry Review -- I should point out that apparently, some dude's mate's sister's brother's friend (IDC) reckons Microsoft shipped 900,000 Surface units in the first quarter of 2013. Not bad, I suppose.]