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.
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.
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.
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.
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?