Listening to Simon’s podcast about the Microsoft Surface tablet launch got me thinking about their previous forays into hardware, specifically Xbox Kinect.
The Kinect is a very clever bit of hardware. So clever in fact that its use in gaming is almost like using a laser beam to slice bread and even in that arena, it has suffered greatly from its post Wii market launch (are there lessons to be learned with the iPad?).
Outside of the gaming world the Kinect has been adapted for use in some real ground breaking stuff; diagnosing Autism in children, guiding lasers in cancer surgery, remote bomb disposal and 3D video conferencing to name just a few. And yet the only impact it has on most of our lives is the pulling of a previously undiscovered muscle.
It seems to me that with Kinect, Microsoft lost out on two levels. Firstly they did not realise the full potential of what they had and, secondly, they launched into the wrong market at the wrong time. There is a huge difference between “we’re going to remove your tumour using a games console” and “we’re going to bring technology advanced enough to defuse bombs to your video games”.
Kinect was undersold at launch and maximising its huge potential is an uphill struggle.
Now we have Surface and, once again, Microsoft are late arrivals at the party. So how can Surface make the impact that it deserves to? What it needs is a niche that other tablets are failing to fill and as Simon suggested, businesses around the world need a tablet that can do what they want it to – straight out of the box.