Microsoft Surface RT: The Placeholder for Surface Plus

By Doug Mohney July 23, 2013

There was plenty of Monday morning quarterbacking taking place around Microsoft's $900 million write-down on the existing Surface RT tablet, with pundits going so far as to blame advertising – c'mon, when has Redmond ever done an exciting ad? The simple answer goes to a lesser ARM implementation and no applications for the ARM RT codebase. But I'm willing to bet it's a bit more complicated.

In the big picture, Microsoft needed to put down some stakes in the tablet arena and spark up touch screen applications for a redesigned Windows 8. The first generation Surface Pro and RT tablets came in at high price points. The Surface Pro, designed to run unmodified Windows 8 on an Intel  chip, succeeded in demonstrating that full-blown business applications could be delivered on a tablet without compromises (other than screen size).

The Surface RT was aimed at home/consumer users – a distinction that too often translates to "Let's make it slower, cheaper, and dump a couple of hardware features." At an initial list price of $499, the RT was cheaper than the $1,000ish Pro, but not cheaper than the entry-level Apple iPad or Android alternatives.

Last week, Microsoft dropped the RT tablet to $349 list, $449 if bundled with a touch keyboard/trackpad cover. Compare that to Windows 8 laptop choices between $300 to $450 and the laptops win hands down with bigger screens and hard disk storage. 

If Microsoft is really serious about Surface RT as an entry-level alterative to a full-blown Windows platform – tablet or laptop – it is going to have to get very aggressive on pricing. A complete RT "system" with tablet and keyboard should come in at $250, putting it into the same price range as Google's Chromebook alternatives.

With Surface Pro at $1,000 and a complete RT solution at $250, Microsoft would then have enough price and feature room to play with to offer a "Surface Plus" model, taking advantage of the newest wave of low-power/low-cost Intel chips. A Surface Plus would come in at around $500-$600 with keyboard and offer the full Windows 8 experience, just like the Pro. It may even be the Surface Pro, but just rechipped and maybe with a slightly different design to lower the production cost.

A Surface Plus with all the essential functionality and specs of the Pro would open up the high-end/ business market for a new Surface or two with bigger screens and whatever the fastest mobile Intel chip is available this season.  The combination would allow Microsoft to keep Chrome and Chromebooks from becoming a viable threat on the low-end/entry-level section of the market and offer a price and functionality competitive option to the Apple iPad family in the mid-tier market.




Edited by Alisen Downey

Contributing Editor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

SpaceX and Blue Origin Talk Seriously Going to Mars

By: Doug Mohney    9/29/2016

SpaceX CEO and nerd-god Elon Musk put forth his architecture for mankind to colonize Mars and potentially other bodies in our solar system on Tuesday,…

Read More

The Galaxy Note 7 Disaster: Samsung's Strategic Weakness

By: Rob Enderle    9/29/2016

Samsung was really the only company in recent years to truly threaten Apple successfully; granted, they did so largely with Google's help. But Apple h…

Read More

Was the Yahoo Hack State-Sponsored? Unlikely Says Cyber Expert

By: Gerald Baldino    9/28/2016

Last week, Yahoo confirmed at least 500 million user accounts were compromised by a data breach in 2014. The attack was the largest security breach ev…

Read More

Will Disney Make Twitter the Happiest Social Media on Earth?

By: Alicia Young    9/26/2016

To get back on their feet, Twitter is reportedly seeking an acquisition deal that would value them at $30 billion. There are a few contenders already,…

Read More

500M Yahoo! Users Impacted by Hack; What It Says About Password Protection

By: Paula Bernier    9/23/2016

Yahoo! is facing a lot of challenges lately. Add to the heap the breach - which the company confirmed today - that has affected 500 million Yahoo! acc…

Read More