Microsoft Still has Wrong Approach with Surface 3

by Matt Klassen on May 27, 2014

There have been few products that have captured my interest of late like Microsoft’s Surface laptop-tablet hybrid product series, but yet, even with the company having unveiled the third iteration of its tablet, I’m not going to buy one. The reason for my hesitancy is simple: the Surface could be so much more. The fact of the matter is that I’m captivated by the potential of the Surface line-up, and even though I see strong improvements in every successive upgrade, I always find myself left wanting.

As I wrestled with this re-emergence of this disappointment last week with the unveiling of the Surface 3 I stumbled upon the musings of TechNewsWorld mainstay Rob Enderle, who was able to concisely and accurately articulate the reasons Microsoft continues to deliver the wrong kind of Surface table; its because the company has the wrong vision, the wrong ambition, and the wrong model for delivering what could be a paradigm altering piece of technology.

Since its inception Microsoft has touted the Surface as a true competitor for Apple’s dominant iPad, but the reality is that people who like Apple want Apple, and people who crave something else want cutting edge from a bold tech pioneer. Simply put, if Microsoft left the Apple mimicry to Samsung and truly blazed a new trail with the Surface 3 you’d see me first in line to buy one, as for now, I think I’ll wait.

As Enderle notes, “Microsoft does best leading and not following. Building another iPod, iPhone or iPad won’t work for it — that path is better left to firms like Samsung. Microsoft should be driving to define the future of computing, and I think Surface could evolve to do just that: It could be the physical representation of where Microsoft — not Apple or Google — thinks the market should go.”

Although Apple stood atop the mobile market for years, considering virtually untouchable by competitors, Samsung stumbled across a tried and true method for dethroning the ironclad incumbent: mimicry. By producing an Android phone that closely mirrored the Apple experience, Samsung was able to build on Apple’s hype with phones at much lower price points.

Now Microsoft has shown a willingness to pursue that same tack, but I think that serves as part of my disappointment, I don’t want another iPad copycat in the market, I want something new…something better….something different. Of course Microsoft has tried to embrace those values as well, packing in some serious computing power into the Surface 3 while maintaining the ease of use of a tablet, but yet there still seems to be something lacking.

That’s where Enderle was able to put words to this persistent feeling of disappointment with the Surface, as “rather than going after iPads, Surface should go after our imaginations, exploring things that look promising but haven’t yet hit the mainstream.”

“Surface should evolve into more of a ‘tomorrow’s product today’ kind of platform that helps drive PCs into the future and breaks the ground for mainstream partners, which eventually can launch more mature products into the market.” Enderle explains, adding, “Surface Pro should continue to go after professional types of solutions, and Surface should aggressively pursue the future of consumer computing.”

Simply put, my interest in the Surface 3 rests firmly with its potential and little with its reality, as currently I see little that truly sets the Surface apart from the rest of the computing and tablet world. If Microsoft is actually interested in establishing a firm foothold in the market don’t simply tweak things we currently have, push the boundaries of the market in directions you want them to go. Give us something we haven’t seen before and you’ll find me willing to finally take the plunge.

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