Analyst: Surface sell-out signifies major shift in Microsoft strategy

Firm now a device giant

Analyst: Surface sell-out signifies major shift in Microsoft strategy

First billed as an attempt by Microsoft to define the Windows 8 tablet market for other OEMs, one analyst believes Surface success has triggered a major shift in strategy at the Redmond giant.

Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research claims Microsoft has got caught up in the tablet race, and instead of merely setting boundaries for Windows 8 manufacturers, is now keen to lead the charge against iPad and co. all by itself.

Scratching beneath

"Surface was first to be an inspiration to the OEMs, a marketing device to increase awareness of Windows 8, a challenge to the OEMs to come up with better designs," said Gottheil.

"That made perfect sense then, and didn't bother OEMs too much. I'd also argue that Microsoft succeeded at that. It has been able to increase awareness of Windows tablets, and been able to define Windows 8 tablets as a different breed of cat."

However, following news of a further sell-out of the 128GB Surface Pro SKU – a sign the company "underestimated demand" rather than an attempt to spin success, said Gottheil – the suggestion is Microsoft now believes it has a hit on its hand, and has "shifted" the emphasis of the entire company accordingly.

"They started saying, 'We're a device company,' they broadened distribution, they launched a large marketing campaign to make the Surface the thing you want to buy," added Gottheil.

X marks the spot

Surface isn't, of course, the first device Microsoft has manufactured.

Both Xbox and Xbox 360 are more dramatic examples of the company shifting its strategy in order to meet its aims, and suggestions of an Xbox branded tablet planned to launch alongside any new home console may push the company further into device territory.

Where Surface goes now is unclear, though Gottheil believes supply problems centre around touchscreen supplies, concluding Microsoft "didn't get a chair at the touchscreen table early enough."

Acer founder Stan Shih has previously suggested he expects Microsoft to pull out of the tablet market once its "purpose is realised", though Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has already confirmed the giant will continue to launch its own hardware when it sees "opportunities to set a new standard".

Microsoft it yet to publish any sales figures for Surface.

[source: MacWorld]

Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.