Editorial: The mysterious failure of Microsoft's Surface RT



  • Reply 101 of 347
    jessijessi Posts: 302member


    Originally Posted by dukemeiser View Post

    I'd really like to see Apple turn the AppleTV into an iOS developer store platform with gaming support. It would completely devastate the Xbox and everyone else in it's path.


    It seems clear to me that Apple intends to do this.  They have been rolling out critical support features each year for such a platform:  iCloud allows syncing of player data, and saved games.   GameCenter supports multiplayer games, leader boards and game discovery and is a borderline social network for games. 


    I think the reason they haven't done it is there 's a critical set of TV related deals they want to get nailed down so that the device has a lot of content.   For some reason, probably related to this feature, the AppleTV AppStore is being held back until that deal is done.... or, they are working on UI improvements to make the SDK that developers would need more useful for general apps and games.  Right now the APIs (according to reverse engineering analysis I've read) are pretty limited to TV program oriented type apps. 


    I think when they do it, it's going to be sort of a "Big Bang" event, much like launching the iPad.   We'll get a lot of stuff at once. 


    One question is whether the current generation of AppleTV hardware-- which is nice and cheap at $99, but doesn't have "console" level graphics performance-- will be what they launch, or if they'll launch a new one that has a beefier GPU to support higher end games.


    Either way, I think it's just a matter of time.  The AppleTV is not ready, but ever since Steve Jobs believed they'd "cracked it", they've been working on it... Tim Cook said "it remains an area of intense interest", which is Apple code for "we've got something in development, but it's not ready to announce."

  • Reply 102 of 347
    leesmithleesmith Posts: 119member
    Nothing mysterious about it. If you're not first, you've got to be best. The RT isn't either one of these things - not even close.
  • Reply 103 of 347
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member

    no one has really nailed the reason for the RT's Total Fail - it's a one-off "orphan" product. can't run W8 desktop apps because it's ARM (as DED noted), but also can't run Windows Phone apps. MS must have thought the superficial user-facing Metro UI skin it shares with W8 and WP would sufficiently mask this isolation and that consumers would embrace the unique "live tile" constant updating they all share. MS also must have thought bundling a basic version of Office with it - while holding back an Office app from iOS and Android tablets - would provide sufficient special practical utility to draw a solid base of buyers, as if Office were still a "killer app." add some pump-priming cash incentives for developers to come up with RT apps to get momentum going there, and then other OEM's would jump on board ...


    it's not hard to imagine MS top brass being very optimistic about all these factors. and they also knew they had pretty good hardware (unlike the V1 Zune, for comparison). so they went all-in on a big initial production run of several million units.


    but of course it has now been revealed by marketplace results that Office isn't a killer app anymore. and that the Metro UI with its live tiles just hasn't captured widespread consumer interest - at best Windows Phone has gotten a toehold in the market, thanks to Nokia's all-in commitment and what is left of its brand power. so developers aren't wasting time building apps for the RT orphan platform, and OEM's aren't throwing away hundreds of millions either on an obvious dead-end platform.


    despite the brave words in public, the real discussion inside MS now must be whether to pull the plug on the RT right away and cut its losses, or roll the dice on a V2 RT model (for the holidays?), "improved" somehow and priced more competitively from the start. maybe most likely tho, is a half-ass strategy of a "major" RT OS update to the existing hardware model (sound familiar, like Windows 8.1?) that adds functionality, like running WP apps inside an emulator ... (this is all so remeniscient of the Zune saga).


    but that would be futile. the RT has the smell of death all over it now and no one wants to touch that. stick a fork in it, it's done.

  • Reply 104 of 347
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,526member
    Great article. The story of Microsoft's predicament has yet to be understood—witness some of the comments in this thread—so the history of how they got here has to be told by someone who was paying attention back then. That's what we have here. The sarcasm makes the story bearable to read. How could he tell it without the snark?

    Not even Microsoft understands what's wrong. I'd say it's still a matter of taste.
  • Reply 105 of 347
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    Microsoft doesn't have an A game because they can't innovate anything. Everything they have done was copied from someone else thinking they could throw their money and marketing at it to make it work.
  • Reply 106 of 347


    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    So at this point, I know what you're thinking: "how could this all-around winning Surface RT strategy not fail to beat back the iPad and take over the tablet world in a way that all of Samsung's hardware expertise and all of Google's software savvy had failed to do over the previous two years as Microsoft toiled to port Windows to ARM and blogged about its incremental progress along the way?"


    Wrong. I was actually thinking about pizza, and a nap.

  • Reply 107 of 347
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    westcoast8 wrote: »
    However, the Entertainment and Devices Division includes a lot more products:

    Yes, but it seems like Xbox is propping up the rest of the division. Xbox Live revenue is up 20%.

    And R&D costs were repaid by 2010. Don't believe the myth that the Xbox 360 is still in the hole.

    However, the less said about the Xbox One launch, the better. :)
  • Reply 108 of 347
    smshnick wrote: »
    The tone of this article is a bit too condescending and elitist for my taste. I enjoy some of the articles on this site, but stuff likes this makes me wanna root for Windows and Android success just so this author would eat some humble pie. Apple pie??

    Is that supposed to be a threat? Be more humble or you will root Android? :D
  • Reply 109 of 347
    virtuavirtua Posts: 209member
    piot wrote: »

    Er, when exactly did "Sony lose the console wars"?

    I think your missing the point, although ps3 turned things around in the end, they really botched with the ps3.. Just ask Ken kutaragi!
    Think we would have seen a ps4 long ago if ps3 had really lived up to expectations. It's taken years to sort out. Ps4 looks to have learnt a lot from ps3, whereas Microsoft...... I still laugh, did he really say "for those offline we have a product, it's called xbox360 - suitable for people on submarines, I can see them liking Xbox 360' lol.
  • Reply 110 of 347
    piot wrote: »

    Er, when exactly did "Sony lose the console wars"?
    Lol VGChartz? You might as well just make up numbers in your head than quote them.

    In terms of overall profit and dominance, no Sony flopped on its PS3
  • Reply 111 of 347
    The only tablet that had a chance against the iPad was the WebOS TouchPad. HP should not have been so quick to throw in the towel.

    I worked in tablet sales. I remember the Toshiba Thrives, Blackberry Playbooks and Galaxy Tabs sitting on the store room shelves, unsold and unloved, same as the Windows Phones.
  • Reply 112 of 347
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,503member
    The asinine mark up cost that Microsoft wanted out of it with a lack luster ecosystem exhibits the huge ego Bill Gates still envisions around himself.
  • Reply 113 of 347


    Originally Posted by markbriton View Post

    I like the editorials, but I'd prefer less sarcasm.




    Originally Posted by juxtapose View Post

    Lots of great content here, but the thick sarcasm detracts from your story.



  • Reply 114 of 347
    dbbcdbbc Posts: 14member
    @vadania "...absorbent amount of money..." LOL, I think you mean "exorbitant".
  • Reply 115 of 347


    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

    Another thing, they rarely ever show the device being used in portrait orientation. A lot of people use tablets as e-book readers. The Surface, always being shown in landscape orientation and with the kickstand out and the keyboard attached didn't make it look like a thin and light tablet you could just pick up and read like a book or easily take on the go.


    Because if you rotated the Surface, the gaudy neon click-in keyboard would be hanging off to the side, and the kickstand would flop uselessly.

    The iPad OTOH is fully functional with or without a keyboard in landscape AND portrait mode. In other words, a true tablet from the ground-up, not a desktop in tablet clothing. Post-PC vs. PC pretending-to-be-Post-PC.


  • Reply 116 of 347

    Microsoft seems to be a company which does not properly understand the dynamics of the consumer electronics market unlike Apple. That's why their music players, phones and tablets failed. Actually Microsoft is doomed right now rather than Apple.

  • Reply 117 of 347
    rjc999rjc999 Posts: 69member

    The Apple Newton was a stupendous failure as well, as far as I can tell, only 300,000 were sold or roughly 60,000 per year. Palm basically shipped the PDA that everyone wanted by focusing on simplicity, functionality, and accuracy. Let's just add that to fix up the snarky selective quoting of history that papers over Apple's failures while emphasizing others.


    I'd say there's a path dependency issue at work here. Previously tablets failed because both the technology wasn't there yet, in terms of weight, performance per watt, usefulness to justify their use over a small laptop. Before the Web taking off, if the stars had aligned in terms of technology availability (capacitive screens, powerful ARM chips, tiny radio chips, etc) Microsoft would have had a chance at launching something like an iPad, because of the lock-in effect of the MS ecosystem, but the Web really devalued the need to run Windows. The original iPhone took advantage of this, simply including a great, usable web-browser, Mobile Safari (without native apps) was already a huge value -- from day one, they had a vast content repository. Whereas companies like Palm had to launch with only builtin apps, and build up from there. The Web provided a bridge while Apple built up their native app ecosystem -- even without native apps, the original iPhone was quite for usable because of this.


    But the iPhone provided years of native app content creation prior to the arrival of the iPad, and so out of the gates, it had two things going for it, the Web, and a huge iOS software catalog that is mostly exclusive to Apple. Now other people wishing to enter the Tablet space face the same proposition people wanting to enter the Desktop PC space faced: They can make a "from scratch" platform and face the issue of no launch software while their competitors have lots. iOS has become the new Windows monopoly in that regard. Yes, some people want iOS because "it's better", but a lot of people who've never touched an iDevice will want iOS because of brand and because of the huge software library.


    So it is hard to evaluate Surface on the grounds of purely technology or design. I think Microsoft could produce the most advanced tablet ever with the best and most usable OS ever, and it would fail, because at this point, improvements in specs or OS design are of marginal value compared to third party software.


    The mobile space has started to crystalize, it's become mainstream, people have become used to the form factor and operation semantics, and the players who were out of the gates first, Apple and Google/Samsung, have now reaped the benefits of having an ecosystem and widespread brand association. It will be hard for any third platform player to change this, even with enormous sums of money.  (Ok, it doesn't help that Microsoft faces the innovators dilemma and continually tries to 'link' Windows to their mobile stuff, when consumers don't want Windows/Office. They want chatting, music, watching video, playing games, and taking pictures. MS is marketing their stuff like enterprise users should buy it)


    Look at how long it took for Windows to be weakened, it took a combination of the Web and Mobile, huge disruptive movements, and Windows is still selling billions per year, so they aren't going to go away anytime soon, but they can't win by making a third platform with the same form factor/usage characteristics. iOS and Android are going to own that for another decade. At this point, they need to focus on something new, maybe it's XBox One/Kinect and the TV market. Maybe it's wearables. They need a new platform.

  • Reply 118 of 347
    nkalunkalu Posts: 315member

    I like the editorial and I like the sarcasm.

    Very well written and very detailed narrative.

  • Reply 119 of 347
    bullheadbullhead Posts: 493member


    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

    There have been MS tablets for years, so how are they copying Apple?


    what did their tablets look like before the iPad?  And what do they look like after the iPad?

  • Reply 120 of 347
    bullheadbullhead Posts: 493member


    Originally Posted by mrrodriguez View Post

    Lol VGChartz? You might as well just make up numbers in your head than quote them.

    In terms of overall profit and dominance, no Sony flopped on its PS3


    flopped?  huh?  Right now Sony is selling the most games. the most hardware. the most everything.  Do you have a better source than VGChartz?  Please share where you got your information.  The only flop right now is Nintendo with the Wii U

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