Microsoft has been hyping its forthcoming Surface tablet like crazy, but doubters remain. Research firm Canalys believes the Surface tablets will be too expensive and face too much competition to have any salient impact on the mobile computing market when they launch in late October.
Analyst Tom Coulling of the research firm likens the Surface's fate to that of the Zune, which was Microsoft's attempt at competing with Apple's iPod. The Zune failed miserably as a portable music player, never coming anywhere close to the success of the iPod, and was eventually pulled from the market.
"The information available to date suggests the prices of both will be too high to capture significant market share, and a direct sales approach will prove inadequate," said Tim, who watches the the computing market for Canalys. "We expect the Surface pads to have a similar impact on the PC industry as Zune did in portable music players."
Canalys believes Windows 8 tablets from other vendors also could have a tough time competing unless Microsoft lowers the price. Early reports indicate the tablets that run Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 built to run on mobile ARM chips, could start as high as $500, which is also the entry price for the new iPad and more than twice the price of Amazon's hot-selling Kindle Fire. Intel-based Windows 8 tablets likely will cost even more.
And PC vendors interested in being Microsoft's OEMs will have difficulty keeping Windows RT tablet prices low due to the company's unrealistically high license fee. Canalys actually advised PC vendors to indefinitely delay all Windows tablet launches until Microsoft "rethinks" the fee.