Microsoft: 'No Plan B' as Surface struggles against iPad

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
If Microsoft's Surface tablets fail to take off, the company does not have a backup plan so much as a plan to keep tweaking its approach until Surface succeeds, according to the company's chief financial officer.

Surface


Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference on Wednesday, Microsoft CFO Peter Klein dismissed the notion that the company should be working on a "Plan B" for the mobile sector.

"It's less 'Plan B' than how you execute on the current plan," Klein said, according to Reuters. "We aim to evolve this generation of Windows to make sure we have the right set of experiences at the right price points for all customers."

Despite considerable effort and marketing dollars, Microsoft's Surface tablets have debuted to tepid overall reviews and disappointing sales. Fewer than 900,000 Surface tablets were sold in the fourth quarter, according to figures from Gartner. The iPad, the tablet market leader Microsoft hopes to supplant, sold 23 million units last quarter.

The iPad is available in more outlets than the Surface, since Microsoft initially restricted sales to its own retail stores and online. Microsoft has since moved to get its productivity-oriented tablet into more outlets, though it is uncertain what impact that increased visibility will have on sales. Klein said getting Surface and other Windows 8 devices to sell more briskly was a "nuanced" matter.

"It's probably more nuanced than just you lower or raise prices," he said. "it's less a Plan B and more, how do you tweak your plan, how do you bring these things to market to make sure you have the right offerings at the right price points."

Surface


The Surface tablets ? which came in a Surface Pro model that runs the full Windows 8 and a Surface RT model that runs Windows RT ? represent a considerable departure from Microsoft's usual mode of operating. In the past, the Redmond software giant has been content to let others manufacture computers to run its Windows software. The advent of the "Post PC Era," though, has seen most of those traditional manufacturers faltering, while consumers increasingly opt for Apple's iPad and, to a lesser extent, other mobile devices.

Microsoft's answer to this trend was to retool its Windows operating system in order to be more touchscreen-friendly, but also to enter the computing hardware market itself, unveiling the Surface tablets without giving prior warning to any of its manufacturing partners. Some of those partners expressed at their software partner's move onto their turf; several of them have since announced small excursions of their own, testing the waters with Chrome OS, Google's fledgling rival to Windows.

Klein's comments on the future of Surface and any potential alternatives for Microsoft are in keeping with past behavior and recent indications for the company.

The original Xbox failed to approach the monumental sales of its main competitor, Sony's PlayStation 2, and the Xbox division lost Microsoft billions over the years. Still, the company stuck with the platform and is now arguably the best positioned among the major console makers to lead the way in connected living room entertainment.

The Surface project may follow along the same lines. In August of last year, two months before the first Surface tablet even launched, job listings appeared showing that Microsoft was looking to bring on talent for the next generation of Surface devices. Klein in his interview was not forthcoming with what Microsoft may have waiting in the wings, though, declining to say whether Microsoft will prove rumors true and release a smaller Surface tablet to take on Apple's iPad mini, Google's Nexus 7, and other devices in the rapidly crowding mid-range tablet segment.

Microsoft and its partners, Klein said, are "well set-up to deliver the most versatile experiences across form factors."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 83
    Yep, I haven't seen any 20 year olds dancing around "clicking" the kickstand and different colored keyboards! :)

    Oops! :)
  • Reply 2 of 83
    moxommoxom Posts: 326member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post



    Yep, I haven't seen any 20 year olds dancing around "clicking" the kickstand and different colored keyboards! image



    Oops! image


    image

  • Reply 3 of 83
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,009member
    I have a difficult time calling the Surface a tablet. Sure, it can run without the keyboard but every ad I've seen has the user immediately attaching a keyboard. This is more a thin laptop than a tablet. Nothing's really changed with it other than being touch-enabled. It's still the same old Windows OS trying to everything when it should lose some weight and try to do some things really well. Microsoft will never learn and will always try and give the user the entire mess of capabilities even when they don't need them, want them, or want to figure out how to use them.

    why use a speedboat when we can use an aircraft carrier----
  • Reply 4 of 83
    ceek74ceek74 Posts: 324member
    Not having a Plan B was their Plan B.
  • Reply 5 of 83
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post



    Yep, I haven't seen any 20 year olds dancing around "clicking" the kickstand and different colored keyboards! image



    Oops! image


    That's because they don't want to get laughed at for having a Surface laplet. 


     


    Microsoft screwed up, plain and simple and that's going to probably mess up Microsoft forever.  Microsoft should focus more on creating apps for Apple OS X and iOS devices and less time trying to compete with them.

  • Reply 6 of 83
    Kick Steve Ballmer sorry a** out of MS and hire some new jack because that old fart is behind the freaking times.
    There is no excuse, except for twisted managerial practices, for MS to be behind in this tech field.
    Scrw them!
  • Reply 7 of 83
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member


    Dear Microsoft,


     


    Now do you see why you shouldn't have dumped the Courier tablet project ?


     


    Sigh.

  • Reply 8 of 83


    Eventually, MS is going to have to sh*tcan Windows and build a totally new OS from scratch. If you had $2 billion to design a new OS, the last thing you would do is design it like Windows. Ugh!.

  • Reply 9 of 83
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,922member


    Hey Microsoft,  maybe if showed off the features of the Surface instead of focusing on the keyboard clicking with the Fauxblet, it may have had "smoother" sales.

  • Reply 10 of 83

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by drblank View Post


    That's because they don't want to get laughed at for having a Surface laplet. 


     


    Microsoft screwed up, plain and simple and that's going to probably mess up Microsoft forever.  Microsoft should focus more on creating apps for Apple OS X and iOS devices and less time trying to compete with them.



    Agreed.

  • Reply 11 of 83
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    [URL=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levonorgestrel]Plan B[/URL] would have been a great idea. They could have aborted the Surface before it had time to grow.
  • Reply 12 of 83
    Looks like they scroogled up by not having a plan B...
  • Reply 13 of 83

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by maccherry View Post



    Kick Steve Ballmer sorry a** out of MS and hire some new jack because that old fart is behind the freaking times.

    There is no excuse, except for twisted managerial practices, for MS to be behind in this tech field.

    Scrw them!


    If it is a failure, (which it looks like) I don't think Ballmer will survive. Too much stumblin, fumblin, bumblin! :)

  • Reply 13 of 83

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    Plan B would have been a great idea. They could have aborted the Surface before it had time to grow.


     


    I see what you did there. image

  • Reply 15 of 83


    Actually, wouldn't they need a "Plan C?" Because "Plan A" was to laugh at the iPhone when it was announced and ignore the market's direction toward mobile devices...the Surface IS Plan B.


     


    "Plan C" should be to fire Ballmer, rewrite Windows from the ground up and develop iOS/Android apps for MS Office. 

  • Reply 16 of 83
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member


    Why should they.  All they have to do is make this one obsolete and release a newer one.  They did it with Vista and all 9 versions of it.  Pathetic!

  • Reply 17 of 83
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member


    Plan B: keep Windows and Metro separate as they should always have been; let Surface BE a great tablet, not a pretty mess of compromises. Microsoft has some innovative (at the least, great to look at) software ideas here. Set them free! Get rid of Ballmer and his Windows-everywhere blinders.

  • Reply 18 of 83
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 13,002member
    maccherry wrote: »
    Kick Steve Ballmer sorry a** out of MS and hire some new jack because that old fart is behind the freaking times.
    There is no excuse, except for twisted managerial practices, for MS to be behind in this tech field.
    Scrw them!

    I really can't believe it hasn't happened already.
  • Reply 19 of 83


    Just wait until Microsoft gets to Plan 'World War Z'.

  • Reply 20 of 83


    As much as I totally agree with the thinking they need to re-think and re-write Windows and stop trying to make every version backwards compatible - the reality is that their profit center comes from this backwards compatibility with legacy enterprise solutions.  And they can't get everyone to change because the entire model for enterprise is built around screwing everyone - and there are a LOT of people baked into the system.  


     


    All those stake holders make it very, very, difficult to change.  If MS had the balls, they'd force the issue, accept pissing off a lot of customers and pissing away a lot of money short-term so they can work towards a future that doesn't revolve around software designed for the '90's.  I won't hold my breath because I don't think they have the balls.

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