Microsoft Getting into the Tablet Business?

By Gary Kim June 15, 2012

Microsoft reportedly is set to unveil a tablet June 18, 2012, that will mark its entry into the tablet business. This will not mark the first time Microsoft has gotten into the business of selling its own branded products. It has done so in the game console business with Xbox and in the MP3 player business with Zune.

But Microsoft has stayed out of its partners' PC business. You can argue a tablet isn't a PC, even though people use it in place of a PC. But Microsoft has drawn the conclusion that there is not a channel conflict if it creates its own tablet.

As young as the tablet business is, segments already are developing, ranging from the smaller seven-inch form factors better suited to e-reading, to Apple's market-leading segment. But it might be reasonable already to suggest that a user's choice of a tablet might hinge on the lead apps that user wants to engage with. 

Either an Android or Apple device arguably works well either as a Web browsing platform or as an app platform. The Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble’s Nook work better as e-reading devices. Microsoft's device might appeal more to users whose primary applications are Web-based, as its app store is relatively less developed than Apple's or Google Play, some might argue. 

And though Lenovo Group Ltd. CEO, Yang Yuanqing argued early in 2012, there’s scant room for growth in the tablet market, lots of people might not agree.

It is harder to disagree with his contention that devices running Google software will keep trailing the iPad. Virtually all forecasts now suggest Apple will retain a rather commanding lead in the foreseeable future. 

But much could change, over time, as distinct tablet niches could emerge. Some think tablets eventually will be a more suitable device for content creation as well. The issue is where the Microsoft offering might wind up. 

Edited by Brooke Neuman

Contributing Editor

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