Microsoft is mad as hell that Apple owns the tablet market and is not going to take it anymore. The company has issued invitations for a press event to take place in Los Angeles Monday, June 18, for what it calls a "major announcement." What could this huge announcement, scheduled with mere days notice, be? A Windows 8 tablet made by Microsoft, perhaps.
Yeah, you read that correctly. Not a tablet made by one of its many hardware partners, a tablet made my Microsoft itself. Heresy, you say? Perhaps, but not impossible.
Microsoft itself hasn't provided any clues about what it will discuss, but many conclude that a home-grown tablet is what the event will center on. Sources close to AllThingsD and The Wrap have indicated that Microsoft is prepared to tackle the tablet market directly in hopes of winning back mindshare--and marketshare--from Apple's popular iPad.
[ Get expert guidance on Microsoft Windows 8. InformationWeek's Windows 8 Super Guide rounds up the key news, analysis, and reviews that you need. ]
Traditionally, Microsoft has only made software. Aside from a few products here and there (think Zune), Microsoft has always relied on its large supply of hardware partners (Dell, HP, Acer, and Lenovo) to make the actual devices. In fact, this is the strategy it has preached over the last few months, asking its partners to make tablets running both Windows 8 and Windows RT. So why the sudden change?
By making both the hardware and the software, Microsoft could achieve better integration between the two. We need only look at how the iPad business model has worked, and how the Android tablet business model has floundered, to see why Microsoft might choose this route.
Apple owns both the platform and hardware aspects of the iPad. The device is fully integrated will Apple's entire line of devices and its software. The same is not true of Android devices, which come from a wide range of OEMs, with different software versions, screens, processors, and capabilities. Android tablets are selling, but have not come close to toppling the iPad from its spot at the top of Tablet Hill.
What likely concerns Microsoft most is that Apple's iPad has made huge inroads with the enterprise, which is Microsoft's turf. Companies far and wide have adopted the iPad by the millions, challenging Microsoft's dominance in the enterprise.
What's not clear is how Microsoft will differentiate its own hardware products from those made by its partners. It's also not clear how Microsoft will avoid ruffling the feathers of its OEM partners with this new strategy, as it will put itself in direct competition with them.
One thing is certain: Microsoft is far, far behind Apple in the tablet space, and drastic steps are needed to catch up.
Mobile Connect addresses the strategic direction that will define enterprise IT for the next decade--building and managing information systems that run on a mobile platform. Mobile Connect will bring together enterprise mobility thought leaders to discuss the innovations in mobile, and how forward-thinking companies are getting the technology to work for them, providing unprecedented business value. It happens in Boston, June 18-20. Register today.