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Does Microsoft Really Need To Make Its Own Hardware?
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dlampe328
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dlampe328,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/13/2012 | 7:28:27 PM
re: Does Microsoft Really Need To Make Its Own Hardware?
I disagree that Microsoft needs to have any ADDITIONAL value to differentiate. The opportunity they have over other hardware vendors is price. Just like Apple receives a big chunk of iPad revenue from the App Store, Microsoft stands to gain revenue from the Windows Store. Therefore, they could potentially take a loss on the Surface and make up for it with the revenue from the software. This is the same scenario with phones subsidized by carriers and DVRs subsidized by cable/satelite companies.

The problem is I don't think Microsoft has figured out. Apple understood this before they launched the iPhone and "there's an app for that" arrived at the same time as the hardware. Microsoft has the hardware and they just don't have the apps or the development community rushing to get there.

The good news is, there are a massive ammount of MS developers out there who, given the opportunity, should be able to compete with (or port their existing apps from) iOS and Android. It might be too little too late for Surface but might save RT and the MS tablet platform.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
12/11/2012 | 5:53:52 PM
re: Does Microsoft Really Need To Make Its Own Hardware?
You're obviously a Microsoft supporter, so your comments aren't that surprising. But the wider public isn't so enchanted by these products. After the initial surge of buying the cheapest RT without cover by first adopters, buying has died down considerably.

The problem for Microsoft is that they have little to offer here. There's nothing substantive in Surface. Reviews have shown that Office is a real pain to use, that apps for the "Modern UI" are few, and not terribly good. Support from Google and others is lacking, etc. The keyboards are not very good, and the cheap one begins to fall apart after just a week of use.

If Microsoft thinks that they need to get into hardware, as Ballmer has said, then they better get themselves in gear, because so far, none of their hardware products are helping them. That includes the XBox, which has claimed a loss for them of over $9 billion since it first came out. And that's assumed to be a success, which if measured by financial methods, surely isn't.
Francoman
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Francoman,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/11/2012 | 3:18:34 PM
re: Does Microsoft Really Need To Make Its Own Hardware?
Microsoft needs to think twice about manufacturing. First, it is not easy. 2nd the likelihood of success is less than 50-50%. If Microsoft is looking for some kind of "Walled Garden" they won't find it by becoming a manufacturer. The "Open Garden" contrasts well with Apple's "closed Garden". Moreover, this is likely to be another failure for Ballmer and the boys in Redmond. They missed mobile and tablets even though they had all the money and human resources needed for a home run.
Microsoft needs to stop trying to be Apple and use their resources to design software that servers customers using Windows. There are many people using windows on the planet. Win8 was a step in the right direct. But execution will be critical. The key to owning a desktop, tablet and phone is synchronization. I want my contacts, appointments and files I need to be available to me on each of these platforms. That should be driving the roll-out of Surface and Windows Phone. A free WinSync Website offering secure sync services if you buy the platforms, or just some of the platforms. Surface Pro should have proceeded Surface RT. Build your sync service open so Apple and Android people can use the basic functionality of the service. Then give Windows People the full Cadillac Services. This approach give users what they need and keeps them in Windows.
As for manufacturing, use tighter collaboration and design standards. Use the web to tie your platform together; make it simple and don't just limit it to the Win8 Platform. Use your base to keep users on your platforms. I can only hope they hear me because I am a Windows guy.
eafpres
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eafpres,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/11/2012 | 5:48:11 AM
re: Does Microsoft Really Need To Make Its Own Hardware?
I don't think manufacturing per-se is the issue, as noted by others already. It is the entire thing--the hardware, software, marketing, selling, support, etc. I hate to use the ecosystem word but that pretty much describes it. However, everyone thought Apple had that sewed up and although they are doing "great" Android phones lead, Google apps has caught up, everyone else's phones have bigger screens, more optimized for video, and can run flash, and Apple just figured out small tablets with a copy of themselves (typically a bad idea--"new, now with less than before!!"). So it is not impossible to create a system and gather a following.
When I saw the update for Xbox OS it was perplexing. Then Windows 8 appeared and it started to make sense. Microsoft has for over 10 years had a vision that the Xbox can become the portal into the home, and everything else relates to that. Apple would like to get there with Apple TV etc., but that is where Microsoft has a huge lead having so may Xboxes already out there. If they complete an OS convergence, figure out the TV and other entertainment aspects across platforms (they already have Netflix on Xbox live so if they can make sharing completely seamless, and make the OS transparent...) they might suddenly emerge not only as a threat to Apple but as a threat to set top boxes, cable companies, and the like.
I agree that from what I have read about RT vs. "real" 8 it is a half-step to launch Surface with RT. Part of the whole "ecosystem" argument from the PC side is Office software. Surface with RT cannot run that suite, so I won't touch it. But if the Surface with full 8 and Office compatibility meets expectations, that could be my 1st tablet, and my iPhone 4 could go away once my Verizon contract runs out, in favor of a Windows Phone. We'll see.
eafpres
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eafpres,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/11/2012 | 5:32:00 AM
re: Does Microsoft Really Need To Make Its Own Hardware?
Agree that service & support are important to reach the masses, but not convinced Apple Stores and the genius bars are the solution. Apple just dumped the head of retail stores. Maybe time for a rethink? I think the Geek Squad does a credible job on PC stuff, and they have just branched into Target Stores. That won't work for Apple, but it could work for Microsoft to partner with something like that.
Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/11/2012 | 3:45:25 AM
re: Does Microsoft Really Need To Make Its Own Hardware?
Art - first and foremost, as a Dodge and Chrysler enthusiast since I was "knee high to a grasshopper", you forgot a couple of things like the Dodge Challenger (which directly competes with the Mustang and Camaro) and the Chrysler 300 (or if you want to go back a few years, the Dodge Magnum). To say that they never caught on - perhaps they didn't sell the same number of units as Ford or Chevrolet, but then again, the Chrysler brands were always the smaller of the 3 in production numbers during the heyday of the Muscle Car anyway.

I don't see Microsoft being able to compete with Apple for a number of reasons - Apple has a VERY tight rein on the hardware manufacturers that it works with and the actual products that they put on store shelves. Why? Having limited configurations makes it easier to fully support from a business sense. Quick example - look at the number of SKUs available in the Mac Pro line and then compare that to the Lenovo ThinkStations. Which direction is Microsoft going to go in? Limited SKUs for improved support at the risk of alienating users who want things "just right"? Or a large number of SKUs to satisfy users and end up costing more in the support phase?

In the end, it comes down to dollars and cents - if Microsoft can produce a superior product that the consumer wants at a better price than their competitors, they may have a chance in the hardware game. Otherwise, I don't see this turning out well for our friends from Redmond.

And finally - what happens when the lawyers get involved? Invariably, someone's going to claim a patent infringement and there'll be a multi-billion dollar settlement over a rounded edge on something. There's a lot of risk in that aspect alone...

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
12/10/2012 | 11:32:24 PM
re: Does Microsoft Really Need To Make Its Own Hardware?
Try 70 years back, that is when Zuse delivered the first computers and those included software. That was eventually Zuse's downfall as creating the software was costing more than what he could make on the hardware.
Anyhow, who cares if Microsoft makes its own hardware or not. They (re)branded hardware for years or had their designs built in a sweatshop in China. All these Xboxes and Microsoft keyboards need to come from somewhere. So now they make hybrid tablet / netbooks. The problem with that is that not all MS hardware is great (such as the Surface RT) and it often runs crappy software (such as the RT) and generally is overpriced (such as the RT, Xbox, keyboard). Microsoft is just one more vendor that would do better if they delivered some decent hardware at a decent price. The Microsoft design is as awesome / dysfunctional as the other designs as well. We all could jump up and down of joy if Microsoft made stuff that is drastically better than the rest, but it isn't.
Stephane Parent
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Stephane Parent,
User Rank: Strategist
12/10/2012 | 9:29:00 PM
re: Does Microsoft Really Need To Make Its Own Hardware?
I hope you meant "the next twelve months" when you said "this year". Because, if Microsoft can't come out with the SurfacePro in 2012, they sure can't come out with a SurfacePhone in the remaining three weeks. (How would a SurfacePhone differ from Windows Mobile 8?)
newyorkcitymale
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newyorkcitymale,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/10/2012 | 7:49:59 PM
re: Does Microsoft Really Need To Make Its Own Hardware?
While true that Microsoft doesn't have the brand cachet of Apple, I still say that the Surface tablet is much better-looking than the rather dated-looking iPad. Furthermore, the touch cover was a brilliant idea. At least in this case, Microsoft out-Appled Apple. Will that translate into sales? It's still too early to tell. Some analysts are trying to kill Windows 8, RT and the Surface after one month on the market... which is ridiculous. Many critics panned Windows XP as well... and we see how successful that went on to be. The reality is that most consumers don't read these tech blogs, and they don't care about "projections." What they care about is getting a great device that does what they want it to do. If Microsoft can deliver that, then they'll have a shot at gaining ground in mobile. Early reports are that Windows Phone 8 is gaining traction--selling 300-400% more than WP7 last year. That's a huge improvement.
newyorkcitymale
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newyorkcitymale,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/10/2012 | 7:44:39 PM
re: Does Microsoft Really Need To Make Its Own Hardware?
They don't need to... but I'm glad they are. I love the design of the Surface, and am hoping to buy a Surface Phone later this year (if available).
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