Microsoft has just released a TV ad for their upcoming Surface tablets, which primarily shows off its flexibility of using an ultra-thin snap-on keyboard accessory. While I really want the Surface to succeed, as many others do, I just don’t see it being enough of a hit to be a top-seller. Instead, I see it being a pretty massive flop. Microsoft has a lot riding on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and their upcoming Surface tablets. The ad is a minute long, and demonstrates nothing else. You’ll find the video below.
Analyzing the Ad
A general consumer would take a look at the ad, only to realize that they aren’t really sure of what they’re seeing. Okay, there’s a tablet computer of some sort sitting there. That’s slightly neat. Then, a flat colorful object, which looks a bit like a keyboard (only obviously shown as a keyboard for just one or two shots), comes into view and attaches itself to said tablet. The majority of the video continues this.
The end of the ad tells viewers where they can go to get more information, and to be on the lookout on October 26th for the actual release. This is all fine and dandy, but overall seems like poor marketing on Microsoft’s end.
Forcing the user to learn more about a product within a 60 second ad by going to a website isn’t convenient, nor should it be necessary. Microsoft could’ve easily have demonstrated much more within the 60 second timeframe that they were given. Instead, they chose to show off a magnetic keyboard cover that isn’t anything that’s new or revolutionary (see: iPad’s various keyboard accessories and magnetic covers/cases). It’s a pretty lackluster ad.
Will the Surface fail?
The tablet market is obviously dominated by the iPad. In a day and age where people want simple devices to take care of their tasks, the iPad is simply the king, and nothing else comes close to it, and probably never will. However, I feel as though the Surface has a good chance of gaining some ground early on, but there are several other factors that need to be in place for it to succeed.
It absolutely has to be cheaper than the iPad. And by cheaper, I’m talking about $200 in decreases. A starting price of $299 sounds incredibly attractive. Add $50 or so for the keyboard attachment, and you have yourself a killer $349 tablet setup. This is rumored to be an impossible target price for Microsoft.
More importantly, developer support. Windows 8 has received a lot of negative press, long before its release. Developers have been barking at the whole “Metro” touch-based user interface for ages, and nothing seems to be calming them down. Without the apps, people won’t find enough reasons to come over.
Lastly, a regular consumer will most likely get confused when it comes to comparing Windows 8 “RT” with Windows 8. Heck, even I haven’t figured out what Windows 8 “RT” actually stands for. All I know is that it’s the ARM-based version of Windows 8, and it won’t run everything that the regular version of Windows 8 can. If someone buys a Surface RT and finds out that their favorite Windows applications won’t run, they’ll be disappointed and confused.
To sum things up, Microsoft’s ad is unsurprisingly disappointing. And, unfortunately, the Surface is looking to be a poor seller, even though the thing’s not released yet, as it can easily confuse consumers, further pushing them towards the iPad. At this point in time, there’s just nothing compelling enough about it for people to jump ship.
To reiterate, I absolutely want the Surface to succeed, as I think it’ll be a really awesome tablet, but only for those who actually know enough about the thing. If the marketing, prices, and developer support aren’t in line, it’ll simply end up being like your average under-performing Android tablet.
What say you? Will it be a hit? Will it be a slow failure? Leave your comments below.