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

PayPal Acquires Bill Management Company

By: Andrew Bindelglass    2/17/2017

Paypal has acquired TIO Networks, an online bill payment company, in a $233 million deal.

Read More

Yahoo! Mail App Helps Fight Hackers

By: Alicia Young    2/16/2017

Yahoo! sent out several emails yesterday to users it believes were hacked through the use of forged cookies. Here's how the Yahoo! Mail app can help p…

Read More

Social Media is More Than Making Bird Noises

By: Erik Linask    2/16/2017

It takes more time and resources than simply posting product offers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but the value of two-way social interactions …

Read More

SoftBank Drops $3.3 Billion on Fortress Buy

By: Steve Anderson    2/15/2017

SoftBank steps up its options with new business investment, picking up the Fortress Investment Group in a deal valued at $3.3 billion.

Read More

4 Ways to Be the Brady and Belichick of Business

By: Special Guest    2/14/2017

In an NFL era defined by parity, their success over 17 years is worth examining for business leaders. After all, Brady is not the most physically gift…

Read More