Will Windows RT Tablet Prices Kill Hopes of Beating iPad?

A leaked roadmap for ASUS branded Windows tablets shows that Microsoft’s attempt to compete with Apple as the leading player and Android as the scrappy upstart might be lost before it gets back into the game.

This depends on whether the leaked roadmap of an ASUS branded Microsoft Windows RT Tablet proves valid. It shows introductory level pricing for an ASUS Vivo Tab RT running the ARM version of Windows RT set at $599, $100 more than the least expensive Apple iPad and $200 more than the previous generation iPad 2, still on sale from Apple.

While this leak shows only one company’s potential plans, if it shows what most Windows RT tablets could cost come October 25, the date Microsoft plans to announce the new operating system, then the battle’s over and Microsoft can go on home. There’s no way a $600 Windows RT tablet will compete in the minds of consumers.

Admittedly that’s a lot of qualifiers. We just don’t know what Microsoft and their partners will release. If this tablet shows what Microsoft and friends offers, they won’t compete because they’re too expensive, arrived too late and don’t offer enough apps at the outset.

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Microsoft fans and promoters might point to the specs and refuse to admit defeat. The ASUS tablet boasts a 10.1″ Super IPS+ display and a potent NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor. However, we get no word on storage capacity, a key stat. The iPad starts with 16GB for $500 and costs $600 for 32GB. Add $130 for LTE ability. What if this ASUS tablet gives the user more base storage and throws in the LTE at that price. That means the cheapest Windows tablet will compare more closely to the mid-level iPad and actually offer more at the price.

Manufacturers and marketers need to learn that the specs don’t matter that much to consumers. People want a tablet that feels good when they hold it and responds smoothly while doing what they want to do as they use it for entertainment, education and learning. Assuming both tablets measure up, average consumers will only see the minimum price when they shop at Best Buy or on Amazon. They’ll see a $500 iPad versus a $600 Windows RT tablet. Everything else will get lost in this comparison.

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Granted, we don’t know what new Windows RT will sell for. Microsoft didn’t announce a price of their Surface tablet either, so my critique of the price may be premature. They’ll need to aggressively price their products to compete.

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At what price will a Windows RT tablet entice you to buy?

Microsoft must hurdle another obstacle, app availability. A good tablet disappears in a users hands as she engages with her favorite apps. This reminds me of the sound guy at our church. We only notice him when There’s feedback or a mic quits working. Tablets disappear unless their’s a weakness. If ASUS made the best tablet money can buy in terms of tech specs and quality, it won’t matter if developers don’t supply apps that people want that make the device disappear.

To combat the lack of apps and Apple’s lead in mind share, competitors must aggressively price their alternatives. At first, Android tablets failed. Now the first Amazon Kindle and their new Kindle HD met this requirement with a $199 minimum price tag. Google did the same thing with their successful Google Nexus 7 Tablet, also made by ASUS.

Before you dismiss my opinions as an Apple fanboy, realize I use an Android Phone and plan to buy a Microsoft Windows RT tablet if someone produces one at a competitive price. Microsoft or its partners must hit the $200 mark for a 7-inch device or $400 for a 10-inch. Anything more costly is DOA to consumers.

Corporate buyers may find appeal in the Microsoft brand, but the ipad already has an inroad at many organizations.

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Would you buy a $600 Windows RT Tablet if the tablet performs as well as an iPad? If not, what will it take to entice you to buy?

Comments

  1. jjaegers says

    I have never understood the thinking that a tablet should cost less than a phone… All smartphones these days when purchased off contract usually cost above $300. The basis of this article says that a 10″ Windows RT tablet that includes MS Office probably 32GB of memory and full support for all the peripherals that you could ever want to attach to it should cost no more than $400… less than any comparable devices based on the same technology.

    Windows RT is designed to replace the need for a tablet and a laptop. I have an iPad, HP TouchPad (hacked with ICS), and 3 Kindle fires (my kids)… I hardly EVER touch any of the tablets… if I go beyond anything that requires more than a line of text to be typed in I would get up and go to my laptop. Give me a tablet that will replace my $600-$1200 laptop and my $400-500 laptop for $700 and I’m sold. 7″ tablets are not designed to be used as a productivity device… so you can’t compare them… and add a keyboard to an iPad if you want but it wasn’t designed for it… hell… I can’t even get the pictures off my camera card with my iPad… I need to go to my laptop for that.

    Windows RT isn’t going to “compete” with the iPad… it will in some aspects but it will really open a new category of devices that allow users to buy one device instead of two to get work and play done.

  2. Kevin Purcell says

    I hear you, but the Windows RT tablets based on ARM won’t run a full versin of Word or work with PC apps taht run on X86 so they are competing with iPad and Android. The cost then becomes the biggest hurdle.

  3. jjaegers says

    They will run a nearly full version of the Office ( http://blogs.office.com/b/office-next/archive/2012/09/13/building-office-for-windows-rt.aspx )… enough to give them to a user at my company and satisfy all their needs… and I bet users will be able to map drives to network resources. Add in APP-V to publish legacy apps for all the Windows RT users at my company and I have a fully functioning Tablet/PC running Windows RT and running legacy apps (hosted from my servers). For companies Windows RT is a no brainer…

    Windows RT isn’t here to compete with the iPad… it’s here as that logical next step for PCs… it’s the evolution of PCs… imagine if Microsoft would have been this forward thinking in the phone space… taking a big risk on where they thought phones were going… well… now they are taking that risk and being forward thinking in the PC space. Windows RT will be competing with Windows and eventually will replace Windows. And most likely it will start to eat into the iPad/tablet market over time as well. There is no need for MS to try to kill off the iPad. Show me an iPad that can actually replace my computer for everything that I do… you can’t… show me an RT device that can… well you just might be able to… and that’s what I mean… RT is competition for PC platform and traditional Windows. It leaves behind the legacy stuff that has haunted Windows and also made it so safe and secure in the market. Windows RT is the future… Window 8 Pro is here to hold users over till we get to that future.

  4. Derick says

    Would you buy a $600 Windows RT Tablet if the tablet performs as well as an iPad?

    The Surface Tablet is not designed to perform like an iPad.It’s a different kind of a tablet that seeks to define what a useful tablet should be.It’s a productive tool for those who want to work and it doesnt come short of entertainment either.This is a tablet for those who want a mobile office / computer in the shape and size of a normal tablet.Microsoft has set a new standard and Apple has to follow.

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