Can Microsoft’s new tablet beat the iPad? No. Apple’s category- defining product had a US tablet market share of around 73 per cent last year and it shows no sign of slowing. But Microsoft’s offering can still be a success – the market for tablets is growing exponentially (by 91.7 per cent this year and 62.2 per cent in 2013, according to Morgan Stanley) – and the remaining 27 per cent is well worth playing for. And here the real question is: can Microsoft beat Google’s Android, the only other serious competitor. The answer is yes. Despite being in the market for 18 months, Android has failed to convince users it is a viable competitor to the iPad. Microsoft, on the other hand, has built its new Windows 8 operating system around “touch” – and it looks good. Apple won’t be unduly worried but Google should be.
Steve Dinneen is deputy lifestyle editor at City A.M. and writes a weekly Geek Speak column.
Despite the innovations expected in the recently announced Surface, Microsoft faces an uphill battle in establishing itself in the tablet space – particularly considering Apple’s dominant 60 per cent share of the tablet market. The Arm version of the Surface will require developers to rewrite applications for the Windows RT operating system. Thus, from an applications perspective, Microsoft faces not only the challenge of making up ground on Apple, but also of convincing hesitant developers that the Microsoft tablet ecosystem will be strong enough to invest the time and effort to develop applications. Additionally, the iPad is simply cool, and it is this cool image that has inspired legions of Apple faithful to camp out at stores worldwide, awaiting its latest release. At least initially, it’s hard to imagine Microsoft inspiring a reaction at a similar scale with the Surface.
Craig Cartier is an ICT analyst at Frost & Sullivan.