IBM may have invented FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt), but Microsoft has clearly perfected it. After laying dormant for many years, they’re back, and in fine form. On Monday June, 18th, Microsoft announced Surface to a very receptive audience.
While the product that they demonstrated does indeed appear to be an interesting device, one has to question the timing of this announcement. Compared to a product announcement from Apple, there were no availability dates, no pricing information, and for the most part, no hands on for the media either.
Historically, whenever Microsoft has made this kind of announcement it’s had the effect of delaying consumer purchases. Now the strategy becomes clearer. What we’ve got here is a kind of a preemptive strike against her competitors. Designed to make consumers take a “wait and see” approach to a tablet purchase.
When this does become available (probably in the fall, timed to coincide with the release of Windows 8), where will people get to test drive one of these shiny new machines? Well, according to Time, “Microsoft’s own chain of Apple Store-like retail establishments will be the only place you’ll be able to try it out”.
That wouldn’t be so bad if there were many of those around. Even up here in Canada, Apple has 23 stores with the newest one opening this weekend at the London’s Masonville Place Mall. Compare that with the 20 stores that Microsoft will have open in the US by the end of June, and the zero (so far) in Canada, it will be hard to try one out in person.
I wonder how Best Buy feels about this?
So who will be hardest hit by this announcement? I doubt that there will be much impact to Apple, as the demographic that the Surface appeals mostly to were unlikely to buy an iPad or an Air in the first place. RIM is likely to be bruised, as well as the Android partners (Samsung, Acer, Motorola, etc). The Ultrabook manufacturers (including Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Gigabyte HP, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba) will likely be not too pleased.
But for now, it’s just a game of wait and see. Let’s hope for Microsoft’s sake, that it doesn’t become a case of, “as you sow, so shall you reap”!