In a move clearly designed to annoy people in the Eastern and Central time zones, Microsoft stayed up late yesterday to unveil the Surface, a new tablet designed to compete against the iPad.
Here’s what struck me: this thing was rushed to the presentation hall. There’s little information about processing power, screen resolution, or memory. There’s nothing about price or launch date.
I suspect there may have been a rush to get Surface out in discussions in order to get developers building apps for it. Because while the specs make it match up sort of okay with the iPad, when it comes to mobile devices what really matters is the app ecosystem. Apple’s is deep and rich, Microsoft’s is not.
The big difference everyone is pointing to here is the built-in keyboard, which is part of the case for the device. CEO Steve Ballmer said that customers were looking for a device that they can work on AND have fun on. iPad has always been a fun device, something to play games, watch video, or read. If you want to get work done, you use a Mac.
Surface also has USB ports whereas iPad doesn’t really want you to connect a lot of stuff to it.
Essentially, Apple wagers on simplicity, Microsoft places its chips on complexity.
Not sure how connected this is to Surface, but LG, one of the hardware manufacturers Microsoft works with a lot, has decided to shelve future tablet plans. I think this has less to do with acrimony toward Microsoft and more to do with the fact that the Android tablets the company has had out there have been a bomb.