Finally it appears that Microsoft will build and release its very own tablet computer. Called “Surface“, former Microsoft boss Bill Gates discussed the device, as well as its main competition, in a recent interview with PBS’ Charlie Rose.
“Exciting”: it’s the word Gates used to describe Microsoft’s venture into the tablet market. At just $199, Surface is expected to directly compete with basic browsing devices like the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook tablet, though it’s likely the device will also draw sales away from Apple’s ubiquitous iPad.
“You don’t have to make a compromise. You can have everything you like about a tablet and everything you like about a PC all in one device,” Gates told Rose.
Gates also took time to discuss the tablet computing market in general. Surprisingly, Apple wasn’t the only innovator when it came to pushing tablet computers; instead, Microsoft (led by Gates) was trying to carve out a hole in the tech market for these kinds of devices about a decade ago.
In the end, Microsoft’s effort failed. Tablets remained not only on the periphery of the tech market for years, but were almost completely unknown to most consumers.
That was, until Apple came along with the iPad. All of a sudden, everyone had to have a tablet computer.
So, what happened? Why is it that Apple was successful where Microsoft wasn’t?
Gates admits it probably had something to do with Steve Jobs. “He did some things better than I did,” Gates said.
Of course, it also has a lot to do with the tech market itself. Microsoft’s early tablets were big and bulky, while Apple’s iPad — in Gates’ own words — are “thin and attractive.”
However, that doesn’t mean the Surface won’t have a huge impact on the rapidly expanding tablet market. Gates says he believes Surface’s launch – which should occur this fall — will be a “seminal event,” and that it may force Apple to re-think whether or not it needs to release a tablet device in the sub-$200 range.