A Quick Take On The Surface Pro

by John Kirk   |   January 23rd, 2013

images-38First, let me say that the Microsoft does not get enough credit for the hardware build on the Surface RT. Microsoft had little experience in bringing out a hardware product and they got the hardware right and they did it on the first try. An outstanding job.

Second, since the Surface Pro is not yet available for independent review, I shall assume, for the moment, that the Surface Pro works as intended.

Having said all of that, I still don’t see how the Surface Pro can be a success for Microsoft. It is clearly a notebook, not a tablet. This was true of the Surface RT and it is even truer of the Surface Pro. (Thicker, heavier, lower battery life, etc.) You can’t hope to hit the target, i.e., tablets, when you’re not even aiming at them.

Finally, I used to believe that the Surface Pro would sell a lot of machines but do nothing to advance Microsoft in the tablet wars. Now that the pricing has been revealed, I’m not even sure that Microsoft will sell a lot of machines. Microsoft lists the Surface Pro at $899 but this is disingenuous since it does not include the cost of a Type Cover keyboard ($130) or a Touch Cover Keyboard ($120). This brings the price up to $1,029, which means that you could buy a MacBook Air, instead, and SAVE $30.

Does this strategy make sense to anyone outside of Redmond?

EDIT: Over at TechCrunch, Matt Burns argues that the Surface Pro is priced just right. What’s your take?

John Kirk

John R. Kirk is a recovering attorney. He has also worked as a financial advisor and a business coach. His love affair with computing started with his purchase of the original Mac in 1985. His primary interest is the field of personal computing (which includes phones, tablets, notebooks and desktops) and his primary focus is on long-term business strategies: What makes a company unique; How do those unique qualities aid or inhibit the success of the company; and why don’t (or can’t) other companies adopt the successful attributes of their competitors?
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001035136448 Sihan Zheng

    you really can’t expect it to be cheaper. I mean, it has the better specs as the MacBook air, and is only 30$ more.
    how can you expect it to be cheaper

    • FalKirk

      My point is that it’s aimed at the wrong market. It may be cheap for an Ultrabook, but it’s terribly expensive for a tablet.

  • pawhite524

    It is only fair to cite MSRP for both the Surface Pro and the MB Air. In actuality it is not difficult to find the latest edition, brand new MB Air selling for $899 to to $939 at certified Apple resellers, no tricks, no fine print.

    Refurbs are as low as $699 from Apple with full warranty. In the past 2 yrs I have purchased a Mac Mini and an iPad 1 from Apple’s refurb inventory. Both performed flawlessly and looked brand new when they got to me. I have no problems recommending Apple to those who would consider a refurb product.

  • kent

    THIS article is so wrong, if some want surface pro then they mean business not a toy like mac os or ios, businesses would not consider mac if all their server infrastructure is Microsoft, get real

    • FalKirk

      Microsoft already HAS dominance in the notebook market. How is the Surface Pro going to help them in the tablet market where their presence is almost non-existant?

    • http://www.facebook.com/rambu.tan.161 Rambu Tan

      You obviously think that 10% of non-tablet computing users are just having fun with their Macs at the office.
      Wait, they are having fun and doing work at the same time!
      Maybe that’s why you think this is wrong since you can’t have fun.

  • Rich

    Microsoft’s problem is that, hypnotized by the blinding but old-school light coming from Windows, they’ve become disconnected from the mobile market.

  • Jun Hyeon Mun

    It is ironic that that a software company’s first hardware product excels in hardware rather than software.

  • grwisher

    Regarding: “First, let me say that the Microsoft does not get enough credit for the hardware build on the Surface RT.”
    Who are you and what have you done with John Kirk?

  • adam

    As an IT Professional I find it interesting that Microsoft can get the hardware right but miss so much on the Software. They have always been a Software company and Windows 8 misses the mark. On top of all of that they are trying to compete in a hardware market significantly more mature than they are. With Intel stepping in now as well they will have a hard road to climb with consumers and brand loyalty. Lastly, it seems they are betting that the hardware will sell. After taking a look at the Surface RT at Best Buy (relegated to a shelf in the Cell phone section) it didn’t impress me that it was a game changer for a consumer. What does it offer that would really drive anyone to it directly?

  • Russell Rowe

    The strategy doesn’t make sense only if people don’t buy it.

    The Surface Pro is something different than the devices it keeps getting compared to by analysts. It is a single device that fits into 4 use cases… Tablet, Netbook, Ultrabook, and Desktop replacement. The question is how will buyers compare having a single device to multiple devices.

    Interestingly it probably does the best job as a desktop replacement. Plug it into a full size monitor and USB hub with regular keyboard and mouse and this is a better machine than most people have at home or work. The Surface screen provides an extra high end monitor/digitizer pad. The only people left out are hard core gamers and designers. Simply carrying it between work and home with similar setups is convenient and saves the cost of two separate computers.

    While not connected as a desktop … on the couch, reading in bed, on a train, at the airport, it’s a good tablet. Each to their own for battery life, weight, and App ecosystem. There are lots of people that take their iPads and wrap them up in bulky cases that make them hefty as Surfaces. It’s an expensive tablet if that were your only use case.

    As a netbook, it’s good…portable and powerful…You get full web experience over a mobile, with better sound and display than any netbook. It’s good with touch too. It’s expensive if that was your only use case, but you wouldn’t find a better netbook anywhere. As an Ultrabook it’s not as great … screen is too small and keyboard too cramped. It is the price you have to pay keep a tablet form factor. It’s fine for short bursts of work, but wouldn’t be great for working on all day.

    Could anyone use this as a single device to replace all the others? Yes probably. This would be someone like the office worker that works at their desk plugged into a full monitor and keyboard. They then unplug it to bounce around meetings, taking notes and making presentations. It’s also unhooked to carry on commutes or trips. At home it could be plugged into a separate monitor and hub for desktop use (working at home, touching up family photos, doing the finances, playing WOW) or carried around the house for more casual work. Are there people like this? I know quite a few.

    At this price point it’s a premium device. Would you measure its success by comparing sales numbers against iPads and Kindles, or would you compare them to MB Air’s and Lenovo Yoga’s? How many MBA’s and Yoga’s have to be sold to have a business case to justify building them? Can Microsoft sell as many Surfaces as these? Maybe.