Surface: Who’s It For?

I’ve just been looking at some NPD stats. I probably shouldn’t quote them in detail, as NPD does like to sell these reports. But I don’t think I’m giving too much away when I mention that the percentage of tablet owners currently using wireless or docked keyboards isĀ  just over 10%. In other words, with Surface, Microsoft is gunning for not more than one-tenth of the tablet audience.

Of course, you could argue that the people who really want keyboards are all holding out for something better than the current iOS/Android devices. In marketing terms, that kind of argument is called “wishful thinking.” It’s not necessarily false, but it’s unhelpful at best, and dangerous at worst. (My own theory is s equally likely: that most people like tablets exactly because they lack a keyboard.)

My prediction is that Surface Pro will do modestly well, but that sales will be almost entirely cannibalized off the existing Windows laptop and Ultrabook business. (Surface RT will, of course, fail miserably, given that it doesn’t run Windows applications, has a zero base of it’s own Metro apps, and offers no particular advantage over existing Android or iOS devices.)

About fung0

Long-time tech journalist. Contributor to numerous periodicals, online sites and TV productions in the US and Canada. Author of several books on computing topics. Graduate mechanical engineer (Queen's U).

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