This past week Microsoft dropped a huge bombshell on the tech community with the announcement of their new tablet, the Surface. From all indications, the tablet will feature state-of-the-art specs sure to challenge most other tablets in the market. The device will be amazingly thin, with a 10.6-inch screen and a USB port. The only problem is, like many other Microsoft products, no one will be moved to buy it. Until Microsoft comes out with a better strategy for their products, Apple will always remain technology king.
It seems that ever since Microsoft released the Zune, they’ve been constantly trying to play catch up with everyone else. While Microsoft initially started as a software company, they’ve been slowly trying to expand into hardware. It’s not that they can’t make a solid product… just look at the widely popular X-Box and Windows 7 operating system. The issue is that when they do release a product, they never seem to have a solid strategy to go along with it. With every great product that gets released, you can assume that the company has tested their product for countless hours, developed an integrated marketing strategy, and made sure the product is strong enough to go against its competitors. Time after time we see Apple releasing products in which everything has been addressed before launch. With Microsoft, it seems they do things quite the opposite.
Looking back at Microsoft’s product launch for the Surface they’ve already made a couple of miscues. First, they haven’t released an exact date when customers can expect this product to go on sale. Having a sale date is essential when trying to build hype around a product because I guarantee by next week people will have already forgotten about the Surface. Second, there are reports that the Surface will initially only come in a Wi-Fi model. I’m not sure how Microsoft expects this supposed “iPad killer” to compete with a product that already has Wi-Fi AND a 3G connection, especially since there hasn’t been any indication of how much the Surface will cost.
The other thing that Microsoft needs to start focusing on is their marketing strategy. Once you have a solid product, a price, and a release date, you need to devote your time to sharing this product with the world in a way that blows them away. No, I don’t mean commercials with a dub-step soundtrack. I mean a fully integrated campaign that involves mobile, online, traditional, and interactive initiatives. Microsoft needs to realize that their potential customers are interacting on many different mediums. The sooner they realize this, the sooner they’ll beat Apple. Maybe it’s still too early to see how well the Surface will do, but at this rate, I don’t have much confidence.