Microsoft hasn’t even held the big unveil event for its new Surface Tablet yet, and we’re already hearing whispers of what the company’s future might hold. Today, in take-with-a-grain-of-salt-news, sources are reporting that Microsoft will follow up the imminent release of its Surface tablet with a Windows Phone-8 based Surface smartphone in early 2013, according to The China Times.
The newspaper spoke to sources who indicated Microsoft has been working on a Surface smartphone since June 2012. Around that same time Noruma’s Rick Sherlund noted, “Our industry sources tell us that Microsoft may be working with a contract manufacturer to develop their own handset for Windows Phone 8.”
The rumor was almost immediately diffused by Microsoft. When asked if Microsoft had plans for a Surface smartphone, Greg Sullivan said, “No we do not…We have a strong ecosystem of partners that we are very satisfied with.”
That “strong ecosystem” Sullivan makes light of remains very much focused around Nokia, with token nods by Samsung, HTC, and ZTE. Obviously, Microsoft creating its own smartphone is going to draw fire and criticism from some, if not all of those companies. Even Microsoft has admitted the possibilities of its interests conflicting with its partners’, “Our Surface devices will compete with products made by our OEM partners, which may affect their commitment to our platform,” said Microsoft in an SEC filing.
Microsoft Surface Features
Both models sport 10.6-inch Clear type Full HD displays with 16:9 widescreen. That means they are among the biggest tablets in the market. If you are not satisfied with the typical 10.1-inch tablet, you can go for the Surface tablet. Along with the touch keyboards with the device, you can turn the machine to a small notebook.
The Surface tablet comes with five Touch Covers. Well, you can pick up any one while purchasing the machine. Different from typical keyboards, the Surface keypads provide brilliant typing experience thanks to their touch-based surface.
The Surface tablets mount both front and rear cameras. The front camera, named life cam by Microsoft, makes the tablet perfect for video chatting through Skype or other services. Using the rear camera, you can capture images and video clips.
Microsoft puts forward better memory options with the Surface tablets. The device comes in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB options. The 128GB is available only with Surface Pro. Further, you can expand the memory using external memory sticks thanks to microSD card slot. That is, you can store enough data including music, software items and video in external clips.
The 3mm Touch Cover features a revolutionary kickstand. Along with fully functioning keyboard and track-pad, the integrated kickstand helps you place the gadget in both portrait or landscape modes. The Touch Cover can be connected to your Surface tablet with a single magnetic click. Now you can easily type text and send messages quite easily.
According to Bloomberg, Surface will only be able to go online using a short-range Wi-Fi connection. This is a stark contrast to Apple’s iPad 3, which has a 3G option, and a faster LTE connection.
Media tablets powered by new Microsoft operating systems Windows 8 and Windows RT will have an impact on the overall market – just not this year, according to market intelligence firm ABI Research.
Windows-based tablets will commence shipments at the end of October and capture an estimated 1.5 percent of total tablet shipments for 2012. Pricing for Windows tablets will be a key consideration for end-user adoption.
If priced aggressively towards current Android tablets, Windows tablets could see 2013 shipments increase 10-fold year-over-year. But if they’re priced like Apple’s iPad offerings, Windows tablets may only double or triple shipments in 2013. Growth in the total available market is expected to come from businesses adopting tablets, which is expected to be a strong area for Windows 8.
Microsoft CEO admitted recently Surface tablets would be priced to compete with products like Apple’s iPad, and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD. Ballmer said Surface tablets would likely sell from “probably $300 to about $700 or $800″ depending on whether they’re equipped with Windows RT or Windows 8 Pro.
Ballmer also made clear that Microsoft has no interest in getting into a price war with Amazon or Google by offering low-cost 7-inch Surface tablets because he wants people to see the Surface as a professional device that can be used for work as well as media consumption.
“If you say to somebody, would you use one of the 7-inch tablets, would somebody ever use a Kindle to do their homework?” Ballmer asked rhetorically. “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.”
Ballmer’s statements confirm earlier whispers of the Surface’s two-tiered pricing, with the more expensive Windows 8 Pro-based tablet likely selling for around $800.