Microsoft, like Apple nemesis Samsung, has a long history of copying market leaders. Windows wasn’t born from originality, folks. It was mostly stolen from Apple’s Mac OS. Likewise, Samsung didn’t innovate the modern era smartphone or tablet with their Galaxy line of knockoffs. Those were copied from Apple’s iPhone and iPad.
That said, Microsoft deserves a little credit for at least attempting to be original, whenever and wherever that occurs. Here are two recent examples.
First, Microsoft Windows Phone. Look at those live tiles on the smartphone’s home screen. While every Android phone more or less mimics the original iPhone layout, Microsoft truly thought differently, and created a unique look on the Windows Phone home screen instead of simply cloning the iPhone as Samsung did.
Second, Microsoft Surface. Instead of simply cloning an iPad the way Samsung did, Microsoft designed and built a hybrid device; part tablet, part notebook. See? That’s completely different from Apple’s iPad design and MacBook line; two products, where Surface, in whatever incarnation is on the shelves this week, is different. A hybrid.
The proof, as they say, is in the taste of the pudding, and that’s where Microsoft struggled with both Windows Phone and Surface. Samsung merely copied Apple’s designs and called it innovation. With the hybrid Surface, Microsoft truly thought differently.
The latest Surface, though, has Microsoft blatantly copying Apple in one very specific aspect. Microsoft decided not to go cheap and hang out in the low end of the product spectrum, instead staking out ground in the premium end of the market. You know, where Apple lives.
The new Surface Pro 3 remains a hybrid notebook-cum-tablet. It’s larger and lighter than a MacBook Air. But it runs Windows 8.1 enhanced for tablets, and does not come with a keyboard (optional), or much storage. The price starts at $100 less than a new 11-inch MacBook Air, but by the time you add a keyboard, a comparable Intel i5 CPU and storage, it’s more expensive than Apple’s low end MacBook Air, and now larger and heavier.
With the keyboard removed, Surface Pro becomes a big-assed tablet that is bigger and heavier than Apple’s iPad Air.
Microsoft copied Apple’s strategy of avoiding the low end of the market with a product that costs nearly double a typical Windows notebook, but also serves as the industry’s largest tablet. I fear Microsoft has gone all schizoid on us by thinking differently and copying Apple at the same time.
Will Surface Pro 3 sell? Yes. But not in the numbers necessary to make Microsoft a player in the mobile device space. I suspect the new notebook-cum-tablet device is there to protect Microsoft’s roots in the enterprise. Interestingly, when it comes to mobile devices– smartphones and tablets– Apple is the industry leader in the enterprise; not Microsoft. The Surface Pro 3 won’t change that.