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Microsoft Surface: One sentence opinions from the mobile industry’s executives and influencers

This afternoon The Verge broke the pricing news of Microsoft’s Surface tablet device. I have my own rather strong opinions but wanted to check those of the MIR audience first. I sent a note out to the MIR insiders subscribed to our TinyLetter newsletter asking for one-sentence perspectives.

(I’ve only used first names to protect the identities of the subscribers as the majority are senior insiders and influencers in the industry.)

Here we go:

– – – – –

Iain: Still not interested! (From a Lumia 710 owning, likely to buy a Lumia 920 Apple fan who’s happy with his iPad 2.)

Matt: I’m interested in both the Surface and iPad mini. The Surface: To see what this looks like on it and to see what, in turn it encourages other manufacturers to do and if it can make a big change to the way people think about computers. The iPad mini: To see if it can persuade me on the value of a 7” tablet. Less than 10” seems like a compromise on everything I’ve tried.

Gordon: I’m an Apple fan — but the Surface looks cool.

Darko: A bit less costly would do wonders, but A) there’s still time to make pricing changes and B) people tend to underestimate Microsoft’s hold on the computer world, and by extension Surface’s odds. And it will sell.

James: To be fair, that’s the same price as your average hero handset. So that puts the Surface at £30-£40pcm on contract with my network of choice.. #interested.

Mark: Good to see some competition, but the switching costs (in personal time) from the Apple ecosystem are too high.

Lee: Sadly, Microsoft and innovative pricing are never the Twain shall meet…

Erik: A me too strategy for Windows won’t cut it, people are happy with their iPad — Microsoft needs to give them a damn good reason to change.

Dominic: Making no attempt to compete with apple on price is arrogant, and plays right in to the hands of every single competitor to Windows 8 devices, they’re doomed.

Mike: It’s more compelling than a PlayBook.

Julian: Microsoft simply don’t have the consumer credentials to take on Apple on their home turf. The Surface is unproven and looks to be a knee jerk reaction to a market in rapid transition from PC to mobile/tablet. Let’s hope it hasn’t been rushed to market as it is going to have to be amazingly good to gain any significant traction. Remember Zune!

Chris: I predict a massive massive flop; Especially if all their purported  advertising budget is wasted in the same style as the 100%-vapid first TV ad that’s been released: No indication of what the product is for, and just a link to where Surface isn’t even mentioned  bar a one word link at the very bottom right.
Murphy: It’s going to have to have some spectacular capabilities to persuade consumers to choose it over an iPad.  Might succeed with Enterprise buyers?  Completely ignores the 7″/Nexus/Kindle Fire end of the market, which is where all the commentary and headlines (if not the profit) will be this holiday season.
Liam: If those prices ensure the quality of both the hardware and user experience is very high everyone wins; if not Microsoft as a consumer brand is dead.
Rob: Disappointing. I, like you, was hoping for a more competitive price point, with some sort of subscription model tied in with Xbox Music. At that price it’d better be darn good, as it’s certainly not an impulse purchase and the cose may put a lot of people off when Android tablet prices are dropping fast.
Matt: How the great have fallen … innovative business models used to be a core strength for Microsoft clearly no more. Challenger brands need to change the rules of the game to their advantage and pricing is arguably one of Apple’s weak points – a missed opportunity for the Redmond crew.
Hugo: It’s firmly out of impulse purchase territory, that’s for sure (unlike pricing strategy for Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and Nexus 7 for example)
Alvin: The pricing doesn’t impress me in any way, but it is certainly no surprise. Ultimately how well it competes with rivals like the iPad and lower-priced Android tablets depends on how good it actually is as a product, and how rich its app selection and online services are.
DB: Pricing alone ensures this is no game changer. Full court press on advertising will be required to drive sales as a result. Does MS have the gumption to back up that sizable a budget? Regardless, welcome to the Thunderdome, Redmond.
Iain: Seems spot on to me, iPad money but no hi-DPI screen, but then twice the storage and free proper Office.

Matt: Seems like a safe strategy for a company that is only just moving from a “software business” to a “software and devices” company. Maybe it’ll be amazing when I hold one and make me excited enough to buy one. Right now it seems they used up all their innovation for now in the creation of the device and aren’t looking to upset the market and take new ground by challenging the status quo in any other ways though. Predictable but ultimately disappointing.

DBT: I read today that Microsoft already succeeded entering the videogame market with Xbox. And once the “tablet” market progresses and settles people will really consider more choices than “iPad”.
Dameon: For the same entry price as an iPad, why should I buy a Microsoft Surface, again?
John: £200 quid and I was in even though I am fairly wedded to Cupertino. Even below £300 and I may have been tempted. But you can bet its going to be £400+ rather than a straight currency exchange.
Abid: Priced to fail!
Giff: With all the hype now with the Mini, and the already hype on the original iPad, folks need to come out and grab us away, not just give another ho-hum option.  Put some zest into the deal, make me want it more.  Everyone talks about Apple these days, not MS or Nokia or Motorola, or Samsung, etc.  So you have to “steal” the customers away.  You can’t do this by giving a like pricing model or a like product…
Andrew: Microsoft have no choice with pricing at present. The iPad is the industry standard tablet device and Surface needs to be priced at parity or cheaper. I’d imagine Microsoft would not want to follow Amazon’s approach of undercutting the iPad – hence parity pricing. I’m more surprised at their attempt to sell a version without the Touch Cover.
Alexander: With full free Office a draw mostly within the corporate market, Microsoft need to generate excitement for Windows RT with the average consumer some other way. They just said no to one of the most obvious differentiators – price.
Diarmuid: Was very tempted to go with ‘meh’, but on reflection: My iPad 2 is too big and heavy, this is just more of the same. Given the bulk I’d rather have a real PC with me – my MacBook Air. I’ll wait to see if the iPad mini appears, if not I’ll give the Nexus 7 a go.
James: OK… all devices should come with a Touch Cover, and $100 is steep just for a protective casing, but yes I think it’s the right time for Microsoft to introduce something new & challenging into the market place.
Ewan: $499 sneaks in under a psychological barrier – good for Microsoft. They’re going for a high price/high margin approach, which sounds an awful lot like Apple, and the battle lines are drawn. We have the low end fighting out between themselves with Android (Amazon’s single use device, the swiss army knife in need of an army Nexus 7), while at the high end we have devices with lots of functionality and ease of use built in (Apple / Microsoft). Given the low cost/low spec idealisation of the netbook amounted to nothing, I think Redmond and Cupertino have nailed where tablets are in the short and medium term.
Neil: A competitive move from Microsoft, but the bare minimum required to make sure the Surface wasn’t instantly dismissed as too expensive. Looks interesting, but then so did Windows Phone 7 and the Palm Web OS devices and we know how well they did.
Andi: Looks great but overpriced.
Tobi: I feel that the success of these tablets from MS hinges on their takeup by the big corporations because Apple with their ipad have way too much mindshare in price sphere MS is pitching at. Your idea of making a small payment upfront and subsidising across 12/18/24 months is very practical and would mean the device flooding the marketplace. I really doubt that with the price point they’ve chosen.

– – – – –

Thank you everyone for your quick replies. I’ll be posting my own opinions shortly! If you’d like to join the MIR insiders, get yourself signed up to the TinyLetter here.



  1. I think the device is not overpriced! A lower price would scream “cheap”! It does more then the iPad for the same price! The only thing that need’s a big push is the marketplace and the developer’s to feed it! 😀

  2. In your words maybe enterprise can now “innofuckingvate” and see that software can deliver real business benefit, rather than shoe horning their business into Excel + Word

  3. ….had high hopes and refused an ipad to wait on this. Was looking forward to the RT version. One for me, one for the girlfriend was the plan. I absolutely want to use Google Chrome as a browser (can’t) and the lady must use Outlook (can’t). What a shame. Maybe next year, or the year after, it will offer more flexibility. Hope it is still around then. My advice is to look carefully for what you want it to do, to make sure it will do it. Then ask yourself if you really need it at all 😉


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