Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) revealed its contribution to the tablet, and ultrabook, market recently with the official unveiling of its Surface device. The gadget does not yet have an official release date, or even official pricing information (just rumors), but it has already caused a stir among many in the tech industry.
The tablet, despite info being scarce, is being hailed as the perfect union of tablet and notebook that Windows 8 is bringing to the fore. Fans of the device are hoping it might end the near monopoly that the iPad has on the tablet market in terms of market share.
Many are, however, wondering what Microsoft’s plans are for the future of this device. The two current big players in the tablet and smart phone markets might offer some pointers as to where the project is going.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) designs its own hardware and all of its own services. This is an example of a fully vertically integrated business model, the likes of which oil companies often employ.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) helps design its own smart phones and is rumoured to be doing the same with tablets. Google’s devices are seen as a mark of the Android operating system operating as it should in its vanilla form, without any software overlays from other manufacturers.
If Microsoft is heading down the second route, that of creating an exemplary or model tablet, manufacturers will not see it as a threat. If it does pursue Apple’s model those same manufacturers may shy away from competing directly with the manufacturer of the operating system who obviously has a competitive advantage.
Google already faced this issue when it acquired Motorola. Before Google gave assurances that it would maintain barriers between itself and the firm, manufacturers were worried about competing with Google’s own smart phones.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is battling for the same manufacturers as Google. Many of them will be dividing their efforts between the two operating systems. If Microsoft pursues the manufacture of its own premium tablet, manufacturers may focus their efforts on Android devices.
If such a migration begins, it will have a self reinforcing effect. If tablet makers do not make their best products for the operating system Microsoft may be forced to continue with its own devices to keep the operating system alive.
If this were to happen in the tablet market, Microsoft might gain a foothold in the manufacturing sector. That’s something it never managed in its years as the primary technology company in the world. Microsoft may use that advantage to extend into the smart phone market.
There have already been rumours that Microsoft might try to acquire Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK). That would increase their presence in the market and give them access to a truck load of patents necessary to expand into the industry.
If that happens Microsoft might do very well. It is, however, more likely that there will be a battle between Microsoft and Google for manufacturers. That might weaken both competitors and give Apple an advantage. Microsoft has not had to compete like that in decades.
Microsoft is the new kid on the block in the mobile device arena. Its battle with Google would be a difficult one and might not result in a victory for the company. The battle could irreparably damage Windows 8 and keep it from reaching its full potential.
Windows , and the Surface tablet, have both been accepted positively by technology critics, and the consumer preview of the OS is being improved by Redmond all the time. The strategic campaign to roll it out may prove more important than its features, and it may end up killing the OS.