April 11, 2013
Tablet Market Will See A 7-Inch Entry From Microsoft
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
The Wall Street Journal today is reporting that Microsoft wants to play in the 7-inch tablet game with competitors Apple and Google.
The WSJ news follows a report from analysis firm IDC which found that not only is the PC market slipping at an accelerated rate, Windows 8 might have helped push it down. An earlier IDC report also found that half of the tablet computers sold worldwide in 2012 were less than 8-inches, suggesting this is the sweet spot many customers are looking for.
If tablets truly are the must-have device of the Post PC Era, then Microsoft will no doubt try to offer as many as they can. Citing People Familiar With the Matter, WSJ claims that a 7-inch Windows-branded Surface tablet could go into mass production later this year.
This move smacks of playing catch up and overcoming weak PC sales as one source told the Journal that a smaller tablet wasn´t even considered until this year.
Microsoft first began shipping their Surface with Windows RT tablets last October, but sales of these devices were generally lackluster at best. Apps needed to be written specifically for Windows RT and though the company pitched the tablet as a laptop replacement, it lacked much of the same functionality. Microsoft´s Windows Surface with Windows 8 Pro, on the other hand, sold much better than its predecessor, offering a more full featured operating system and better specs.
Yesterday's IDC report painted a grim picture for the state of PC sales in the US and all over the globe.
According to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, PC sales were down by 13.9 percent last quarter and saw the worst sales decline since IDC began tracking PC sales in 1994. Though the PC industry was already standing on shaky ground, the report blames Microsoft´s Windows 8 on stunted growth.
"At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market," Bob O´Donnell, an IDC researcher, said in the report.
Windows 8 stands in stark comparison to any other version of Windows, and though their attempts to try something new were mostly admired by the tech press, consumers have not responded well to the new operating system.
As a way to get Windows 8 in front of more eyeballs, Microsoft has been pushing manufacturers to use the operating system on a myriad of devices, from laptops large and small with and without touch-enabled screens to tablets.
The alleged popularity of 8-inch tablets could help Microsoft further their goal. That is, of course, if they haven´t already missed the boat. The WSJ report suggests that they´re already too late to the party.
The IDC claimed sub 8-inch tablets were the hot ticket item last year, finding that “One in every two tablets shipped this quarter was below 8 inches in screen size.”
This news accompanied findings that Google´s Android will surpass Apple in the tablet war this year by offering customers smaller and cheaper devices. If customers are truly looking for this specific combination of small and cheap, Microsoft may have to price their tablets in Amazon´s price range, a dangerous proposition considering Amazon´s slim profit margins on their tablets.