Microsoft unveiled its Surface tablets last week to some surprise and equal amounts of consternation from PC makers, who worry that the Redmond-based firm could slice into their remaining market share.
The Surface comes in two flavors: an ARM-based slate using NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 chipset that would run Windows RT and an x86-based Intel-powered model that would run the full-fat Windows 8. Microsoft hasn’t given out any pricing details on either model, but The Next Web speculates that the ARM model would have a $599 price tag, while the Intel version would cost $999.
Based on this sort of pricing, the Surface would compete in two categories: in the premium tablet segment against the New iPad and in an apparent “ultra-premium” category of hybrid tablet/laptops that could challenge ultraportables like the MacBook Air or the Intel-driven ultrabook range.
However, the introduction of the Surface has apparently gotten some PC makers worried about their future prospects. Lenovo, Dell and Toshiba have made positive reactions to the new device, but some anonymous sources from OEMs have complained about Microsoft’s highly-secret unveiling of the Surface.
Despite this, Gartner’s Michael Gartenberg speculates that the Surface is a sign of Microsoft’s frustration over its hardware partners’ inability to innovate in this product segment. If the Surface tablets live up to their promises, then the company could have a compelling product to showcase its latest operating system.
Still, price is going to be key for the device’s future. If the Surface is priced too high, it could turn out to be an extremely premium product that won’t really gain much ground against the iPad. In contrast, a too low price could antagonize Microsoft’s OEM partners.