Three months ago, Microsoft announced their response to the iPad. They called it the Surface. Forget about the specs and the hardware design for a second, the company failed to disclose two key pieces of information: When will consumers be able to buy it and how much is it going to cost? Because of their refusal to provide those two crucial details, rumors about pricing and availability started coming out of the four dark corners of the internet. Someone, and we don't even know who, said the Surface was going to cost $199. The story got picked up by every gadget site on the planet; it spread like wildfire. And why wouldn't it? Selling the Surface for such a low price would be the ultimate kick in Apple's pants.
Recently however, Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, sat down for an interview with The Seattle Times. They asked him: “With the Surface, are you planning to compete with the iPad on price or on features?” Here's his response, in full:
“We haven't announced pricing. I think we have a very competitive product from the features perspective. …
I think most people would tell you that the iPad is not a superexpensive device. … (When) people offer cheaper, they do less. They look less good, they're chintzier, they're cheaper.
If you say to somebody, would you use one of the 7-inch tablets, would somebody ever use a Kindle (Kindle Fire, $199) to do their homework? The answer is no; you never would. It's just not a good enough product. It doesn't mean you might not read a book on it….
If you look at the bulk of the PC market, it would run between, say, probably $300 to about $700 or $800. That's the sweet spot.”
So what Ballmer is basically saying is that $300 to $800 is what you should be expecting. Has your mind been blown? Probably not. Why are we even talking about the Surface on this site? Because it's not just a tablet, it's a full Windows computer. It, along with just about every other PC to be launched this year running either Windows RT or Windows 8, is going to absolutely slaughter the Android tablet market.
Some of you might not agree with that prediction. To those readers we say let's see how the market looks this time next year.