By Greg Mills, Associate Editor
I have read a number of gushing articles in the last few day on the latest Zune coming out of Redmond. Unlike successful hardware companies, Microsoft never divulges actual sales numbers, as it is much better press to just spin dismal sales with lavish praise than to confirm what everyone already suspected.
When you fill the pipeline with 24 Surface Pro computers, it isn’t hard to “sell out”. When you get eight out of those 24 tablets back within a week, are you still sold out?
Microsoft doesn’t get it about the difference between tablets and laptops. They also don’t get it that there has to be a good selection of software for a platform to prosper. The Surface Pro really is a laptop with a detachable keyboard and scant memory leftover for apps. The notion that a touch screen keyboard needs to be so good you can actually get by without a physical keyboard also seems to not register with Microsoft.
I hear the Surface Pro will run regular PC software on Windows 8. So why would you not just get a full feature laptop? Or better yet a MacBook Air and load PC malware on it instead of paying the same money for a odd hardware monstrosity? I saw on a commercial that Surfaces dance? Must be hidden magnets or servo motors of something to get them to spin around like that. I guess the R&D people in Redmond are thinking out-of-the-box now. Microsoft ought to catch up with Apple any day\.
Actually, the only shockingly good news for Redmond is that the Microsoft smartphone platform has caught up with the sinking rock called BlackBerry or RIM or what ever they call themselves these days. RIM hasn’t learned the hard lesson that will take them down by the end of the year: that launching a smartphone platform takes three elements that all have to be just right. The three are great hardware, great platform software and a complete lineup of apps. Lacking any of these three, you don’t even get out of the gate.
The problem for both Microsoft and RIM is that they are way late to the party. Apple and Google will fight it out over software platforms, and it looks like Apple and Samsung will fight it out over smartphone hardware. Everyone else in both the smartphone software and smartphone hardware are just out of luck.
The most telling numbers are not the sales numbers but the profit numbers. If Apple isn’t a monopoly in the percentage of devices sold, there is a new category of monopoly that isn’t illegal — that is the profit percentage. I hear Apple pockets over two-thirds of the industry profits. At the end of the day, that is what matters. Selling low margin, low end devices isn’t an Apple thing to do.
That is Greg’s Bite