Re: MS Surface Catch 22
That's definitely true. Several analysts have told me that some IT managers don't consider the Surface Pro 2 prohibitively expensive, given that it can replace two discrete devices. I can see schools being big Surface customers as well. Like I said, I think Microsoft will sell millions of them-- which will represent a dramatic improvement from the original edition of the Surface experiment, at least in percentage terms.
But I still think this kind of device can only be used for certain kinds of enterprise deployments. If you're a knowledge worker, for example, you really need a bigger screen and keyboard, and the ability to dock the Pro models only mitigates this concern to a certain extent, since it also takes away the user's mobility while adding cost.
Convergence is only a convenience if it doesn't impose productivity-killing compromises-- and for many, I think the Surfaces' compromises make a clamshell laptop more attractive, especially given how thin, light and cheap some of the new Ultrabooks are. I can be productive on my Surface 2 and Surface Pro-- but for most tasks, I'll be more productive on my other, larger-screened devices.
And even if your company likes the convergence idea, how does Microsoft contend with similar (and often cheaper) offerings from Dell and HP? At this point, Microsoft has neither the sales pipeline nor the manufacturing resources to compete at scale with either of them, and both of them have new hybrid devices that cater to the same markets as the Surfaces.
And though the Surfaces seem workplace-oriented in differentiating features, Microsoft is still hoping for consumer sales and BYOD potential; it wouldn't be holding (lightly attended) midnight launch parties if this weren't the case.
I think the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 are both nice devices, and I'll have an in-depth review of the Surface 2 later this week that goes into more detail. But for what they cost and what they offer, they offer Microsoft only so much opportunity for growth. The fabled Surface Mini could a different story-- but by the time it arrives, how many potential buyers will have already purhcased a Nexus, Kindle, iPad Mini or (best case scenario for Microsoft) some Windows mini-tablet, like the smaller Dell Venues?