Saturday, March 9, 2013

Why Microsoft's Surface RT Will Flop

It's not only because of ludicrous pricing that the Surface RT will sink. It's the fact that consumers don't understand the machine, too.

Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro

Microsoft's Surface RT recently took a hit when Samsung halted its sales in Germany, but that's not the reason this tablet will soon bite the dust.

The Surface RT is going to fail in the market mainly because of its steep price. Microsoft is not willing to lowball the product in a competitive market even though it can easily afford to subsidize the machine and sell it for $200, rather than the $780 it goes for in Germany. This is simply too much money.

And, of course, Microsoft has no clue about marketing this device because it looks and feels like a Windows 8 machine though it is not.

I think this sort of look-alike marketing would have flown in 1997, when the computer-using public was smarter. But ever since the dot-com crash and the subsequent failure of many computer magazines, the public has been becoming dumber in matters of computing and how things actually work. The younger generations do not care about chips anymore and they look at all the devices as superficial appliances. Thus, when they see the Surface RT "Windows" machine, they do not understand why regular Microsoft Word does not work on it.

This is a worldwide phenomenon that Microsoft does not comprehend. It is a shame because I personally think the RT outshines any Android tablet I've seen.

There is no reason except mindshare conflict that this machine should not outsell everything else. Well, there's also the fact that the license for RT is too high. The open-source Android is much more appealing to manufacturers on a price-performance basis.

Microsoft probably knows that the RT laptop is better than any Android one (and more competitive with the Apple), but it could never bring itself to lowball the product and perhaps waive licensing fees for makers like Samsung.

Microsoft should also clarify its pitch to showcase the machine's features. Consumers do not grasp that the RT machine is different than a regular Windows 8 Intel machine because nobody bothers to explain it to them.

It's not too late to reeducate the public, though. Education helps marketing work.

Whatever the case, this is an opportunity lost for Microsoft. And it's a shame because this is an excellent product.

You can Follow John C. Dvorak on Twitter @therealdvorak.

More John C. Dvorak:
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Go off-topic with John C. Dvorak.


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