On Microsoft Surface
Microsoft just announced Surface, on first glance, an iPad / Android tablet competitor. But due to a cover that integrates a keyboard and full Windows 8 - it could also be going after laptops in general.
It’s pretty clear Microsoft took cues from Apple – the slick presentation, emphasis on hardware design, the experience of the end-user, etc. But a key difference from Apple is how Surface tries to cover all the angles – keyboard, pen input, full Windows. Almost as if the Surface could be a tablet, portable, and desktop all in one device. Meanwhile, Apple seems intent on keeping its iOS devices relatively separate from the Mac line, possibly from a design decision that a multi-purpose, transforming design would do each task poorly.
I’m not sure which road is correct. I’ve definitely dreamed of a MacBook Air that somehow transformed into an iPad. But I currently feel content with separate devices – a MacBook Air, iPad, and iPhone – and switch between them pretty regularly. I rarely find myself yearning for a physical keyboard while using the iPad, and my current work-around for full OS X on an iDevice is screen-sharing to the desktop. Ultimately, a physical keyboard would somehow dilute the iOS touch experience – it’s frankly similar to training-wheels. Touch is the future and Apple’s prodding us to move forward. Does anyone miss the physical keypad on an iPhone?
But still, the Microsoft Surface presentation makes a transforming device look pretty cool. And it’ll appeal to a certain “worried” sort of customer (aged relative still uncomfortable around computers in general) that isn’t totally sold on the tablet experience, most specifically touch – not ready to abandon a keyboard and mouse, and unable to decide between a tablet or a notebook.
Of course, Microsoft hasn’t hit a home run just yet. A huge part of Surface’s success will be availability and pricing, which the presentation didn’t address. It better come out this year, and can’t be priced like a notebook computer ($1000 plus) which would = DOA.
Anyhow, I don’t think Apple has much to be concerned about here, but I can already say with confidence I’d get this Surface thing sooner than an Android tablet. So you-know-who should definitely be concerned – all their half-assed iPad competitors just got blown out of the water. I hope this Surface causes tons of competition for Android tablets, to where consumers just throw their hands in the air out of confusion – and get an iPad instead.