Talking tech since 2003

Recently, I wrote about how Microsoft’s next generation operating system, currently known simply as Windows 8, had very high potential for mainstream success.  In this article I discussed how that this time around Microsoft’s focus on tablet computers in this release is going to arguably be just as important – if not more important – than the desktop and notebook features.  With the mobile industry growing every day, tablets are becoming a very common thing in the hands of consumers.  Having said this, Microsoft’s not having invested much (or any) focus in tablets and mobile devices in the last release of Windows (Windows 7) has caused the software company to miss out on a boatload of potential in terms of tablet sales in the last year or so.

But with what we’re seeing now with Windows 8 leaks, it appears that Microsoft has invested a lot more effort in mobile with this version of Windows; or at least the current state of the developments could very well lead that direction soon enough down the road.  Now, I for one think this is a great move for Microsoft as they will finally have a chance to build upon Windows’ reputation and widespread use in the desktop environment and become a serious mobile contender.  Yesterday news developed that Microsoft was getting knee-deep in the tablet market; not by just releasing a Windows operating system built more specifically for tablets, but by branding and marketing their own tablet hardware.

Following the business and marketing strategy employed by electronics giant Apple, Inc., Microsoft seems to be planning, or at very least considering, the release of a product where they not only control the software but the hardware as well.  For Apple, this strategy seems to have worked incredibly well so far; just look at the popularity of the Apple iPad.

But the question is whether or not Microsoft will be able to apply the same strategy with the same degree of success.  You see, Apple has historically handled both their hardware and software needs in-house and have not relied on outside OEM’s to push utilize their products.  Because of this, Apple has been able to develop their own products – whatever their creative little minds could dream up – and not have to worry about who would construct the hardware.  Sure, there was always the task of getting the components rounded up, but the finalized product that consumers held in their hands was always guaranteed to have an Apple logo on it.

On the other hand Microsoft has more or less been a software-only company since their formation, with the only notable exception being the XBox gaming console.  Now, because Microsoft has been a software company for so long, third-party OEM’s have only been competing with one-another, and this has driven competition to a certain degree.

If Microsoft releases their own tablet, they would have an obvious advantage.  Why is this?  Simply put, they would be able to use their own operating system without having to pay themselves, meaning that they could undercut the pricing of every other Windows tablet manufacturer.

Af face value this honestly seems like a genius idea.  But at second evaluation, Microsoft would be hurting their own business.  How many OEM’s do you think would be willing to try to compete with their own vendor when it is perfectly obvious that it would be an uphill battle?  Not many, right?

And really, the more I think about it the more I start to question the amount of potential Microsoft really has in the tablet industry.  It just seems that 2012 is way too late for Microsoft to jump into the tablet game.  The iPad will have already been out for round two years, and at the rate things are going the company will likely be able to maintain their dominance in the tablet industry.  Just look at Android tablets that popped up just months after the iPad and have yet to take off at competitive levels.  Seriously; everyone is making tablets now, and the industry is already getting to be over-saturated.  Can you imagine what it will be like in 2012 or what Microsoft’s chances will even be?

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