Consumers Don’t Care About Windows Tablets? No Problem

By  |  Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Research firm Forrester has conducted a survey that supposedly reveals that consumer interest in Windows-based tablets–once quite high–is now tanking. Forrester is concluding that Microsoft has therefore missed the opportunity to compete strongly with the iPad, since the first serious Windows-based tablets won”t show up until sometime next year when Windows 8 ships.  
 
If I were a Microsoft honcho, these results wouldn’t worry me much, for several reasons…

  • When Microsoft decided to, um, put all its tablet eggs in the Windows 8 basket–which it presumably did quite awhile ago–it knew that the move meant that it was pushing out the availability of good Windows tablets, thereby losing whatever early momentum it might have had. If the company has the courage of its convictions, it should be okay with short-term bad news.
  • Android is performing more poorly in the tablet market than most of us expected; the BlackBerry PlayBook is a fiasco; HP’s WebOS is dead, or close enough. Which means that there’s still plenty of opportunity for someone–including Microsoft–to become a robust #2 in the market after Apple. We already know that won’t happen this year, so Windows 8 tablets showing up next year sounds like decent timing.  
  • Most consumers aren’t yet paying attention to Windows 8, so no survey is going to capture well-informed opinions about the new operating system and its strengths or weaknesses as a tablet platform. If Windows 8 tablets are fabulous, they stand a respectable chance of doing okay; if they’re lousy, they’ll surely flop.  
  • By choosing to reinvent Windows itself as a touch-centric environment–rather than, say, gussy up Windows Phone and slap it on tablets–Microsoft is clearly trying to do something bigger than simply come up with a plausible iPad rival. It’s Windows users in general that it’s going to need to address, not just prospective iPad buyers.

I’m not saying that Microsoft’s Windows 8 tablet strategy is going to be a surefire success. Actually, it’s one of the biggest gambles I can remember in the technology industry–and in a world in which Windows XP remains the dominant operating system a decade after its release, it’s entirely possible that most people won’t want to make Microsoft’s great leap forward. But it’s okay if interest in Windows tablets is weak right now. If there’s anything we know from the history of post-iPad tablets to date, it’s that expectations don’t have much to do with reality, and rushing into the market doesn’t seem to help.

 
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10 Comments For This Post

  1. Khaled Says:

    Windows Tablet will drive Business Tablets into Enterprise and SMB, which will later drive consumer to buy as they want compatibility with their office tablets same like windows/office PC

  2. Justin Says:

    Amazon, Nook and small form media tablets should be referenced in this article.

  3. Nigel Roy Says:

    great article and completely agree. I personally think Windows 8 will be the OS that shifts users off WinXP in 18-24 months from release and (I don't know) but I can't expect that Microsoft won't put a massive amount of marketing muscle behind the launch. Just look at what they are doing with Windows Phone right now.

    It will be touch to compete with Android and iOS though – but I believe Microsoft can do it.

  4. The_Heraclitus Says:

    Hmm.. Within ~14 months "Droid will be #1, with Apple close behind. MS might have a shot at #3 is it focuses on the SMB/SME channel with plenty of office productivity s/w for its tablet O/S environment.

  5. johnwbaxter Says:

    Your third bullet is key. September (or June, if "that guy" still works at Nokia) 2012 doesn't yet exist for the people Forrester could ask in anything like a well-designed survey.

    I can see an Intel Win 8 tablet (grown up version of the thing handed out at BUILD) being my only Windows machine if I stay in the Apple universe, or either that or an ARM version being my carry around machine if I move to Windows (I haven't decided).

    –John

  6. I'm_your_Mamacus Says:

    You're an idiot.

    There is no 'tablet market', only an 'iPad market'.

    People try tablets other than an iPad because: 1) they're anti-Apple 2) they're cheap-skates or 3) they're intellectually deficient

    The only reason 'droid is in the running is because former Google CEO Eric Mole, whilst on Apple's board, stole Apple IP and used it as a base for Android. It will fail. Apple will litigate 'droid into oblivion.

    MS is, at least 5 years, too late in the game. They won't be able catch up to, much less surpass, Apple in terms of anything. Steve Ballmer is a buffoon. This is what happens when a sales-drone (or a bean counter) leads a company instead of a product-guy.

    Enjoy your half-assed, Apple-wannabe 'droid tablet & phone. It'll be a nice paperweight.

  7. blackberry developer Says:

    Win tablets have no chance to compete with Apple. As simple as that. Maybe in some future (not sure if it is foreseeable future) but not now.

  8. The_Heraclitus Says:

    Wow, a REAL look into the psyche of an Apple fan boi

    LOL

  9. Avro Says:

    The Windows 8 Tablet is the same no hoper that the Zune was and WP7 is. Nice bits of kit to be sure, but no one is interested.

    Microsoft why don't you do something useful like make a version of Office for the iPad? It would make you a lot more money.

  10. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    It's not just in post-iPad tablets where rushing in doesn't help. Apple also did not rush in. They killed the last Newton in 1998, so that is 9-12 years with no Apple tablet on the market, depending on whether you count iPhone or not. People were asking for an Apple tablet for longer than they were asking for a phone.

    Windows 8 is the only thing out there that even passes the laugh test with regards to competing with OS X on any client device. But it's a long time away. It will be a few more years before they have something that competes with an original iPad, and iPad is not standing still.