Tom Nolle: What Niche for Surface?

Microsoft's Surface may or may not find acceptance with the consumer, but its business opportunity might be more easily demonstrated. In the absence of much cloud detail, Surface's value depends on whether some collaborative or field data apps might justify a slightly better keyboard.
7/6/2012 | 28 comments
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mejiac   What Niche for Surface?   10/1/2012 11:01:32 AM
Re: Not a winner

Agreed, there are many apps, but lets look at the playbook from RIM.

I have one, and many times I'm disappointed at the lack for Apps.

Apple is at the front of the market, and Android is constantly growing, so will Microsoft follow the same steps as RIM? Will apps be able to cross platforms? Or will software shops keep away from developing for Microsoft?
Susan Fourtané   What Niche for Surface?   10/1/2012 5:41:09 AM
Re: Not a winner

"Microsoft is not listening to what consumers REALLY want, which is more apps, ..."

 That doesn't seem to be true anymore. There is a loads of apps coming up. 

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mejiac   What Niche for Surface?   9/27/2012 4:25:53 PM
Re: Not a winner
I agree that Microsoft is not brining something new to the table,

I mean, come one, even the Ipad has an attachable keyboard, but the question is "Do people really want a keyboard?", and I think it beats the purpose of a tablet versus today's laptops which are constantly lighter and still as powerful.

And it's funny, it's like they're competing with there own products, since the new line of ultrabooks looks to provide the versatility of having a lightweight laptop.

Again, Microsoft is not listening to what consumers REALLY want, which is more apps, more features, but lighter and smaller
Tom Nolle   What Niche for Surface?   9/11/2012 10:13:10 AM
Re: Not a winner
We run into that issue nearly every time we go out to dinner!  I just got back from a two-week Alaska cruise that was almost completely outside wireless range.  Every time we passed a cell tower half the passengers were glued to their phones or tablets, even though we were passing scenery that many will never see again.  Why not stay home and watch it on YouTube, I wonder?

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Susan Fourtané   What Niche for Surface?   9/1/2012 8:55:25 AM
Re: Not a winner

"I don't usually carry either a phone or tablet with me.  When I go to dinner, never.  When I go to any social event, never."

That's a good practice, especially today when it's so common to see people at a dinner table in a restaurant hypnotised with their phones despite being with someone else, who sometimes is just doing the same.

Calling, texting, checking email, checking in on Foursquare, when being out with another person is a total lack of consideration and respect. People should be aware of this. 

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Tom Nolle   What Niche for Surface?   8/2/2012 10:25:10 AM
Re: Not a winner
Good points, Susan, and it may well be that phone or appliance designers are doing just what you suggest as we speak--trying to find the right balance between two models of functionality.

I don't usually carry either a phone or tablet with me.  When I go to dinner, never.  When I go to any social event, never.  When I'm traveling or on holiday, I usually have my 10-inch tablet just in case I have to do something work-like.  I pick up emails on it and I can make calls if I need to even without a phone.  Obviously a ten-inch tablet is backpack material for a guy at least.  Since I don't feel like I have to be in touch, I don't have any means of keeping in touch unless I'm really gone for an extended period.

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Susan Fourtané   What Niche for Surface?   8/2/2012 10:15:32 AM
Re: Not a winner

Maybe design engineers create a merged device as an alternative for those who don't need   the phone function that much. 

I can easily keep a tablet with me in my bag. So for people who carry a bag it's fine. Would you work with apps that much on the go? I am thinking of a device that can be useful and practical. A phone is not representing all what I need at the moment, or the practicality I try to find in only one device for when I leave my desk. And as mentioned before, I can't care less about calls right now- 

Operators supporting VoIP sounds great. There are VoIP startups already emerging. 

Yes, that's exactly the use I see for a phone today: either you need to make a call or you are expecting a call. Otherwise, off! 


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Tom Nolle   What Niche for Surface?   8/2/2012 8:28:41 AM
Re: Not a winner
Hi, Susan; I think the vendors themselves are testing the waters on whether smartphones and tablets could merge into a mini-like (7-inch) form factor.  There are three barriers that I can see besides just force of habit.

First, even with a bluetooth headset you have to have the tablet somewhere on your person, which isn't as easy with a tablet.

Second, smaller form factors make it difficult to navigate through productivity apps. I love my 7-inch Color Nook for reading and some content, but if I have to do even a light work application it's too hard to use.

Third, the operators are just now working through the idea of having wireless plans that are data only and that would support VoIP like Skype.  Putting TDM cellular voice in a tablet would run up costs considerably.

On the call habits, I think I'm probably more weird.  I guess I'm a private person on one hand, and on the other my job is such that most people who would contact me want free advice, which isn't much of a business model for consultants!  Thus, I NEVER have my phone turned on unless I have to make a call or my wife has to call me.

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Susan Fourtané   What Niche for Surface?   8/2/2012 7:39:53 AM
Re: Not a winner
Hi, Tom 

Yes! And being current is very important today. Therefore, the more hats we wear, the better. :) 

More and more I convince myself that soon tablets and smartphones will merge. I am looking forward to the iPad Mini for this reason. If the iPad Mini can offer me all what I need, I will totally discard any sort of phone. 

"I have to admit that I'm neither interested in having people know what I'm up to or being able to reach me on demand!"

I am happy to hear that because, honestly, I thought I was becoming too weird when I started to tell people that trying to call me was a little pointless, unless I am expecting the call. 




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Susan Fourtané   What Niche for Surface?   8/2/2012 2:27:23 AM
Re: Not a winner
Hi, zerox - I like your thinking- 

Of course there is a difference in notable apps and the ones that fade in a blink.

"Microsoft stands to gain a lot by doing something to take advantage of it. Partnering with Nokia might be a great way to do this. " 

That is exactly how I see it, too. Especially because the two companies have a very different leadership history and way of doing things. Microsoft can take advantage of Nokia easily.

"Even though they're small here in the States (Microsoft's home base), they're still huge in other parts of the world - this could serve as a great boost in those parts of the world."

Precisely. And we all know the goal of smartphone/tablet domination is still out there. 

"For devices like this, brand awareness is everything, and I think popularity in, say, Europe could easily pay dividends in popularity everywhere once it gets people talking."

Exactly. We tend to look at the big markets, because they are big. But how many consumers and potential new consumers do we find in all those smaller nations where Nokia is pupular and trusted? Microsoft is not as trusted as Nokia, so to speak. 

Nokia has been secretive lately. There is something cooking. :D

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