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So – Why Doesn’t Microsoft Market Tablet PC?



In the comments to one of my recent posts Taxman asked the following:

Microsoft is a huge company with the most advanced tablet technology on the market. Why don’t they spend advertising dollars to make the tablet a household word?

I have often wished that Microsoft would get out there and really promote the Tablet PC.  It has never happened.  The best the tablet seems to get is cameo appearances in MS advertising. 

Have you ever wondered why that is? 

My theory – and let me stress those two words, my theory, I have no inside knowledge on Microsoft’s strategy with respect to marketing the tablet PC – is that they don’t really have a lot to gain by doing so.  Remember that unlike Apple, Microsoft don’t sell PCs.  They are a software company.  They want to sell you a Windows license.

I strongly suspect that tablet functionality is not going to convert die hard Mac users in their droves.  Furthermore I suspect that historically the vast majority of tablet purchases have been by people buying a tablet instead of a Windows laptop, so really to market the Tablet PC heavily would not be creating new sales for Microsoft, it would be robbing Peter to pay Paul.  In the XP days it would of shifted sales from one SKU (Windows XP Pro) to another (Windows XP Pro Tablet Edition).  In the Vista product suite, at best is could up sell someone from Home Basic to one of the other SKUs.

That said – there is a community that does have something to gain from marketing tablet functionality as a point of difference.  The OEMs.  There is a price premium on Tablet PCs, but it is not from the OS license, so it is going into the OEM’s pocket.  They should be marketing tablet heavily.  In fact, some actually do, but you may not see it as it is primarily aimed at the corporate market.  I have frequently seen adds from Toshiba in the in-flight magazines on some airlines.  Fujitsu also does some marketing in the corporate space.  I’ve seen HP promoted heavily at industry events.  What I would really like to see is for one or more OEM to really go after the consumer space.  Frankly – if they continue to wait then Apple my finally end the speculation and make a Mac tablet – and you can bet they would grab some mind share in the consumer space!


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