Just yesterday I reported that Barnes & Noble had slashed the price of its Nook Color and Nook Tablet devices, sending them closer to $150 and giving the firm something of an advantage over rivals Amazon and Google.
Now there’s word that a new company will be releasing a sub-$200 tablet computer, and it’s a big one: Microsoft.
We’ve known about the Microsoft Surface tablet PC for some time. Several months ago Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the device and revealed that it would run Microsoft’s soon-to-be-released Windows 8 operating system. However, Ballmer and Microsoft failed to provide pricing details at the time.
A new report from Engadget indicates that the base version of the Surface will retail for just $199. This version of the Surface will be running Windows 8 RT, a relatively basic version of Windows 8 optimized for portable devices like tablets and smartphones.
If the report proves accurate, Google, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble could all be in big trouble. Why? Because their devices all ship with roughly half the storage space found on Microsoft’s 32GB Surface tablet. If Engadget is on the money with this one, expect the Google Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire, and Barnes & Noble Nook to all undergo price drops by the time Surface is released later this year.
It’s worth noting that Microsoft will also be releasing a 64GB version of Surface running Windows 8 RT and then, down the road, 64GB and 128GB Surface tablets using a fully-featured version of Windows 8. All will undoubtedly cost significantly more than $199, though it’s unlikely any will retail close to the $499 price point of Apple’s iPad 3.
At this stage, it’s hard to imagine that Microsoft’s release of Surface won’t have a dramatic impact on the market shares held by its main competitors in the sub-$200 price range. However, it remains anyone’s guess whether or not fleshed-out versions of the device will negatively affect the 70 per cent market share currently held by Apple’s iPad.