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Microsoft Handhelds

MS Global Strategy Chief: Tablets Are a Fad 643

jfruhlinger writes "Wondering why Microsoft isn't jumping into the red-hot tablet market? Well, maybe it's because Craig Mundie, the man in charge of the company's global strategy, isn't sure if the 'big screen tablet pad category' has staying power. Of course, it's possible that tablets will go the way of the netbook, but blogger Chris Nerney calls Microsoft's seeming total inaction in the face of a hot market 'mind-boggling.'"
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MS Global Strategy Chief: Tablets Are a Fad

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  • by Ardaen ( 1099611 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:02PM (#35668850)
    So, sitting here in a public establishment I look around and see 1 laptop and 5 netbooks... Since when have netbooks gone anywhere?
  • Possibly correct (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arikol ( 728226 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:02PM (#35668856) Journal

    He is possibly correct.
    Meanwhile, some others (notably Apple) are riding that bubble like the silver surfer and making money by the crate load.

    So Microsoft's goal is NOT to make money from new tech?
    Even if it is a bubble Microsoft shows its corporate vision (or lack thereof) in this.

    Kind of sad because this is the same company that made the Kinect not so long ago, showing that not everybody at Microsoft lacks vision.

  • I agree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:08PM (#35668968)
    I'm inclined to agree. I have some coworkers with iPads, and they're starting to not carry them to meetings in favor of a PaperPad and a pen. They're either awkward to view (too horizontal), or too awkward to type on (too vertical with a case-stand). They're nice for playing angry birds during meetings though.
  • No surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wazzzup ( 172351 ) <astromac&fastmail,fm> on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:14PM (#35669056)

    I'm guessing it's because Microsoft doesn't have a touch-based UI for Windows that they're saying tablets are a fad. They thought the same about the internet and portable mp3 players too. Yes, they had tablet PC's long before others but it was a barely-modified version of XP that simply replaced a mouse with a stylus - it wasn't the same.

    They'll get into the market as soon as they can cobble together a "good enough" touch-based UI for Windows and then leave it about 5 years later when they realize they aren't making any headway against already well-entrenched Android and iOS markets.

    The Microsoft-dominated era is over unless they can figure out a way to execute at least as well as their rivals.

  • Re:Other theories (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Riceballsan ( 816702 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:32PM (#35669360)
    IMO netbooks weren't killed by the IPad directly, they died because they went the same route as the IPad. I'm no expert on the subject beyond that I happened to be working at staples durring the rise and fall of netbooks, and I can tell you why they stopped selling at the store I worked in. Durring the peak, the store carried 3 netbooks, acer 1 which depending on the sale of the week was between $150 and $200 weak processor 1gb ram if I recall, then a HP and a dell netbook that were $350-$400. The acer ones sold like hotcakes because for the most part people wanted a weak cheap PC for taking notes, ultra portability was a side effect. The $300+ netbooks, I never saw one sell, primarally because any application that extra speed and power would be wanted, is an application that you should spend those 300+ on a laptop and see it on a screen larger then 10". Eventually the acer 1 stopped being carried and all netbooks that were in the store were the same price as the laptops. I never saw another one get sold, then a month later the IPad came out and everyone attributed that to the death of netbooks. Honestly I think netbooks killed themselves by failing to see their own selling point, then trying to compeat on the wrong selling point.
  • My "improved tablet" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:33PM (#35669374) Homepage Journal

    My idea of an "improved tablet" is one on which web sites cannot distinguish the fact that I'm accessing it on a tablet so that I won't get any more "We're sorry, but we don't have the content rights to display this on mobile devices" messages. Until that happens, I will always consider a tablet as a deliberately gimped PC. (That is typically actually more expensive than a PC.)

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:34PM (#35669378) Homepage Journal

    Actually a better paralle was Digital Equipment Corp. When micro computers started to become popular DEC just didn't see the point. The would rather make real profits selling minicomputers. People where still paying big bucks for PDP-11s DEC System 20s and the hot new VAX. By the time DEC produced the Rainbow it was too little too late. Microsoft looks to be in the same mindset.
    I wounder how Microsoft will feel when RIM buys them and then HP buys RIM?

  • Re:Other theories (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mini me ( 132455 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:37PM (#35669426)

    Are you suggesting that software played no part in it?

    Linux on the tablet was popular early on, but by the time the iPad came to market, Microsoft owned virtually all the netbook market. Say what you want about Windows, but it was never designed for a small device. The Linux-based ones were at least trying different things. Then came the iPad with an operating system that was designed specifically for the form factor which housed it.

    As good as Apple's marketing is, people generally do not choose Apple over Microsoft when it comes to general purpose computers. The iPad had to be something special to pull people away from their Windows-running Netbooks. If the Netbook players would have designed an OS specifically for the Netbook form, I am thinking the outcome may have been different. The iPad still would have been successful, but perhaps the Netbook would have remained a player.

  • Re:Possibly correct (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _UnderTow_ ( 86073 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:51PM (#35669626)

    Objectively, a tablet is a laptop without a keyboard or the ability to do a lot of things laptops do, but with a higher price tag. The only reason to own one is that they're fashionable and hip.

    Your comments betray either a strong anti-apple bias, or a complete lack of imagination. Aside from reading ebooks, there are a lot of other tasks a tablet is more suited to by virtue of its form factor, smaller-size, longer battery life, etc.

    For example, when we go on long car trips, my kids and I can play board games by passing the iPad around to who's turn it is. And we can use it solidly for hours. Also, I like to play tabletop war games (warhammer 40k, etc). I have all of the rules on the pad where its form factor for this task is so much more usable than a laptop is.

  • Re:Improved tablets (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HermMunster ( 972336 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @04:16PM (#35670646)

    Any entrenched market leader will always claim anything different and competitive is a fad. Travel by train was supplanted by air travel. That was claimed to be a fad. The horse and buggy businesses claimed the automobile was a fad. Radio claimed TV was a fad. The Bells all claimed the cellphone was a fad. Now the company entrenched as the market leader for operating systems for computers is claiming the same of tablets (of which they have nearly no offerings). I'm sure they are watching the market for tablets pass by as companies swerve to avoid their OS on that platform (I seriously hope we don't get trapped by vendor lock-in the way we have with the Windows platform). The fact of the matter is, just because Microsoft can't make a tablet OS that anyone wants doesn't mean that the market for these devices won't exist for a very long time and have significant utility.

    The problem with tablets is that everyone wants one but no one can afford them. The Apple product is far too restrictive and the price is very high over the long haul, being consumers are locked into their Apple walled garden (similar to cell phone contracts--phones are cheap but when combined with contracts the cost is exorbitant). Tablet PCs are significantly cheaper to "design" than PCs once you have your first model. Anything after that is incredibly inexpensive as the thermal design set, the engineering and art are complete. Right now the tablet market is trying to suck as much money out everyone for a series of products that will be incredibly cheap in the future even though it's extremely cheap for them to design and build them today.

  • Re:Improved tablets (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @04:18PM (#35670660) Homepage

    I don't think "tablets" are going to die outright, but I do think they're a passing fad (much in the same way as most things, including the "HPCs" in the early 2000s or Palms or anything else leading up to now).

    Basically, like the netbook, they're a stepping stone.

    Netbooks proved that such a small, mobile - yet featureful - platform was possible. Tablets are now proving that the touchscreen UI is possible to maintain and useful to people (or, at least, we'll see that in a financial quarter or two, I suspect). Smartphones are doing the same thing too, really: the only difference is porn and other movies are better on your tablet. :P

    Personally, I think we're about 2-5 years away from a 'device convergence'. We've got the smartphones, tablets, netbooks, desktops, etc. - and we've got a number of devices which play between the lines (Google's 'laptop', thinclients, tablets with attachable keyboards, etc.)

    How long until we're seeing a "computer" for sale from a major manufacturer which is fully componentized for modular use? By that I mean something like:

    * at its most reduced, it's a smartphone.
    * it can be inserted into the back of a larger display, making it a tablet
    * it can then be clipped to a keyboard chassis and used as a netbook
    * it can be dropped in a station, giving it discreet graphics, added storage and more RAM - allowing your contacts, games, etc. to still be available and playable on a "different device/platform".

    Honestly, I suspect Apple is moving this direction right now, with the rumor that OSX is on its last legs, the popularity of games on Apple's store, and so on. Each of these things have been more-or-less implemented, by one hardware manufacturer or another, in the past couple of years on their own (dual video chips on Lenovo laptops, the detachable/clip screens on a couple netbooks, the perpetual 'laptop dock', etc.) and improvements in x86-64 mobile processors/architecture/bios makes such a prospect all the more realizable. If a company were to mass-produce such a 'platform' I have no doubt it'd be immensely popular with geeks ("we can put windows/os x/linux/android on it") and consumers ('ooo another apple product') alike.

  • Re:Agreed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oakgrove ( 845019 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @05:15PM (#35671298)
    Sitting here browsing and posting this on my Xoom, I couldn't disagree more. Let's see, no heat, phenomenal battery life, extremely lightweight, intuitive touch based OS and on and on. Since getting my Xoom, my net book has barely come out of the case and my desktop is collecting dust. It does practically everything my regular computer does and most of it a whole lot better. I even hack on little python scripts with it thanks to the scriptng layer for android. And this is a first generation product. I f-ing love this thing. This guy needs to put the pipe down and step away.

    Android and iOS are coming for Microsoft,and their monopoly profits like twin freight trains. Of course, when you're paid to ignore reality...

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan