Tablet computing has been one of the most exciting recent revolutions in business technology. As soon as the idea of a compact, touch screen device was mooted presenters everywhere began to get excited and we’re not ashamed to say that we were amongst them.
The iPad is undoubtedly gorgeous and the interface is sublime but we’ve always been frustrated by its limited functionality when it come to business in general and presentations in particular. We’ve worked hard to make sure that our customers can get the best from their iPads but we can’t escape the feeling that it has consistently failed to fulfil its early promise. It’s almost as if Apple’s baby has a first class degree in business studies and takes cool to a new level but can’t progress from stacking the beans in Tesco.
When Microsoft first started talking about the Surface we hoped that salvation was on the horizon. Most businesses use Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office software and we dared to dream of a tablet that gave business users everything they needed in one place.
If we’re honest we weren’t disappointed, we got our USB port, full use of the software we love and a dinky keyboard attachment too. 11 months on and the Surface has failed to make the impact (or profit) that was hoped. Microsoft’s baby has a first class degree and a great job in the city but alas, it also seems to have become the oddball geek in the corner that everyone’s a bit unsure of.
Microsoft has stood their ground, they know that their product has great potential and they’ve not been shy in forcing direct comparisons. The video below is a great example of this, but unfortunately they’ve missed the point. People buy an iPad because they want an iPad, not because they need one.
Which brings us to Surface 2. Launched this week, the Surface 2 is much improved, it has better screen resolution, a two position kick stand, longer battery life, new accessories and is both lighter and thinner. It’s all great stuff and means that this iteration is a real improvement on the original and for those that buy tech with their heads it’s a real contender.
Unfortunately when it comes to a big ticket item like a tablet, it’s a stronger person than me that can rate need above want.
It does seem that Microsoft know that they simply can’t compete against the iPad because the spiel for the Surface 2 includes what I think is a very interesting comparison, Microsoft claim (and they’re careful about this sort of thing) that the Surface 2 is more powerful than 95% of laptops available today.
While the level of improvement that Microsoft have incorporated into the Surface 2 should improve their sales, I can’t help thinking that maybe the biggest difference will come from some strategic repositioning.
So, what should Microsoft be saying to business users?
How about this? ‘If you want an iPad, buy an iPad. If you need a laptop take a good look at Surface 2.’