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Will Surface Surprise Apple?



December 06, 2012 – Comments (9) | RELATED TICKERS: AAPL , MSFT

Board: Microsoft Corp.

Author: BenGrahamMan

I went to the Microsoft Store in Bridgewater NJ yesterday. This was the first time ever in their store. I was there around 3PM. Store had some customers, but not a lot. I saw no purchasing going on, but really not sure about that. There were a lot of sales people, or whatever they are called. Most if not all seemed knowledgeable, helpful and polite. I talked to one in particular who seemed to know Win8 and Surface fairly well. I had not experienced either the Surface or Win8 till yesterday. I enjoyed both. The touch screen on Win 8 both PC and Surface are cool. I think I got used to it fairly quickly, and had no issues with the experience. The store had a wide array of products, from tablets, Lumia and HTC phones, laptops and desktops. They had a Samsung laptop displayed, that also converts to a tablet. Yet, they were out of it. I was wondering if they were phasing it out for Surface Pro.

I enjoyed my first time on the Surface. I first used the less expensive Touch Cover. I found that to be slightly awkward, and was feeling disappointed at first. One of the employees mentioned I should try the Type Cover as a comparison. I had no issues with the Type Cover, and it was a big improvement. The salesperson mentioned that Surface sales were brisk, and this person thinks sales will continue, especially when Surface Pro comes out. The machine felt strong in all respects. I kept plugging and unplugging connections, and all seemed fluid and strong. There was really nothing I did not like, other than the pricing of the Surface Pro. Granted, I have never used an iPad before, and occasionally play with my wife’s Kindle Fire. I am not sure if this is accurate, but the salesperson explained that the iPad and other tablets are consumer devices, whereas the Surface is a business and consumer device.

I was kidding with one of the salespeople that I was going to journey over to the Apple Store, and unlike the Microsoft Store, it might be packed with customers. The salesperson said, “You are probably correct. They have an installed base and have been around a lot longer.” I went to the store, and really the customer concentration was not vastly different at the Apple Store. There were more customers for sure, but whereas Microsoft employee to customer ratio seemed like 5:1, the Apple store seemed like 4:1. An Apple salesperson was showing me different devices and tablets. I saw a big screen which was a computer, and really nice, except it wasn’t touch screen. I was shown the iPad mini, iPad 2 and iPad Retina (I probably am getting the names wrong.) I was toying around with it, and it was okay, no great shakes. The Surface felt better and I liked it more, yet at a minimum, I have positive sub-conscious Microsoft bias. I asked the person how it compares with the Surface. The response went something like this: “I spent some time on the Surface, maybe about an hour. I liked it. It had lots of unique things that surprised me. I like the way Microsoft went off their Windows format, and seems to have completely changed that experience.” I asked, “Would you buy a Surface?” The salesperson responded with something like, “I have really only used Apple products, plus I work here, so I only buy Apple stuff. I bought my dad an iPad, and he is an old time Windows guy. He likes the iPad, but it has its application limitations. I think he would like the Surface because it can use some business applications. Yet, those applications are not the same as a laptop, so there are still limitations.” I asked “What about when Surface Pro comes out? It seems like other than what appears to be a high cost, you get a tablet that does full applications?” The Apple Salesperson said something like, “Are you sure, I have not heard of this product.” I suggested we check it out online. The Apple Salesperson said something like, “Wow, this is cool. You are right, a bit pricey, but first look and being introduced to it, it looks cool. I think my dad should see this.” I asked if he would consider buying his dad a Surface Pro as a gift, and the salesperson said, “I have to evaluate the cost and so forth, but this looks like something my dad would love. If I could substantiate the cost, I would definitely consider getting my dad the Surface Pro. Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this, it looks really cool.”

There are my 2 cents.

I submit this with bias and hope that Microsoft continues to succeed in her big picture ventures. 

9 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On December 06, 2012 at 1:11 PM, constructive (99.96) wrote:

I don't see much demand for Windows tablets. Phone/tablet operating systems (iOS and Android) are more relevant to the way most people want to use tablets than a tablet/laptop operating system (Windows 8).

I'd rather buy a Windows 8 convertible laptop (Lenovo X230) or a cheap Android tablet.

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#2) On December 06, 2012 at 1:33 PM, constructive (99.96) wrote:

And of course the Surface RT seems pretty pointless as a late entrant building an ecosystem from scratch, which will primarily compete with Surface Pro (actually Surface Pro is already competing with Surfact RT, and winning). I predict they will lose money on RT devices until they give up.

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#3) On December 06, 2012 at 4:32 PM, Parkite (< 20) wrote:

Et tu, Steve ballmer?  

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#4) On December 06, 2012 at 6:48 PM, miteycasey (28.88) wrote:

How many people have touch screen monitors at home?

How many people have touch screen monitors at work?


I think  this is the limiting factor for Win8.

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#5) On December 06, 2012 at 7:57 PM, Imperial1964 (94.07) wrote:

Just adding my 2 cents for what little it is worth.

I had used Win 8 on both a tablet and PC before it came out because I know a couple guys who work at Microsoft.  I thought it didn't make as much sense on a PC with no touch screen.  I had no issues with it on a tablet, though.

I suspect that Microsoft could successfully leverage its dominance in the business world (i.e. Office) combined with its Surface Pro and type cover to establish itself in business tablets.  Many businesses I see are piloting tablets to see if they are worth it.

However, I doubt Microsoft will pull it off.  If they were a little more aggressive with their pricing and targeted their advertizing a little more towards business, I think they would have a better chance.

My point is, who is going to pay that much for a tablet that runs MS Office just for personal use?  For the most part, busineses get by just fine with clunky laptops, but all day I see business uses for tablets if they were powerful and cheap enough.

For what it's worth, my company did some evaluation and settled on piloting iPads, though I think they are still too expensive to be used widely yet. 

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#6) On December 07, 2012 at 1:33 AM, awallejr (34.47) wrote:

Well I still like PCs and I like point and click.  I like typing using a keyboard.  All this "other stuff" just confuses me.

When I am given TOO MANY options I just curl up in a fetal position.

I know I want to upgrade from my iphone3 mainly because it sucks (screen is too small and takes forever to d/l) but I have no clue what to get now.

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#7) On December 07, 2012 at 10:45 AM, Lulupoopsalot (< 20) wrote:

Just my opinion here.

How many of you have seen the cereal aisle at the supermarket?  It goes on forever and ever.  Have you tried all those cereals?  I know I haven't.  That's kinda how I feel about the smart phone and tablet market now.  There are going to be tons of products put out there for consumers.  But only a few will have that long term staying power becuase people get comfortable and stay with what they know and like.

Plus think of the the cost of trying a new cereal vs that of a new smartphone.  I haven't even tried all those cereals becuase I hate when I spend $5 and don't like what I bought.  How many consumers are going to risk $700+ on that kind of prospect when they already have something they are comfortable with.

It took Apple a decade to build this following.  Think it's going away anytime soon?  I don't. 

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#8) On December 07, 2012 at 11:15 AM, commoncents33 (< 20) wrote:

The SurfacePro is two pounds.  Kind of chunky for any prolonged use as a tablet.

 So it's more like a laptop, that you can use as a tablet if you really need to.  Kind of like the third row of seats on most SUVs.

 But as a laptop, it's not that great.  For one thing, you're stuck with the screen being at the angle of the kickstand; don' t like that angle?  Too bad.  Want to use it in your in "laptop"?  Good luck with that, using a folding keyboard and a kickstand.

My suggestion:  by a MacBook Air, run Windows on it when you have to, and carry an iPad Mini for when a tablet makes sense. 

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#9) On December 11, 2012 at 1:20 PM, rofgile (99.00) wrote:

I like the Lenovo Yoga as best in Windows 8 class.

Its got a responsive touchscreen, fast CPU, and light weight.  And you flip the screen and its a tablet.

I think using both a touch screen and a keyboard is a really pleasant experience, if the touch screen is responsive and the screen doesn't have too much freedom (why I don't like the Lenovo Twist for example).

I would buy the Yoga, but I am going to wait a bit until maybe a second generation appears.  For new tablets and devices, I think that is the best approach, since flaws and defects in new ideas happen quite often.  And, 2nd generations of the Ipad had much better hardware than the original, etc.

If there was a touchscreen laptop like the Yoga, proven to work well with Ubuntu linux... that would be a big seller to me. 


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