Microsoft last week unveiled Windows 8, the company’s new desktop and tablet operating. With the announcement, Microsoft joins Amazon as companies that are expected to enter the tablet market within the next 12 months. However, I don’t believe they will be taking much market share from the iPad, rather I think, gains will come at the expense of Android-based tablets.
I have to give credit to Microsoft for coming out with a strategy that’s different than Apple. I have been calling on companies to be innovative and not just copy Apple since the iPad was first released. Finally, someone is doing it.
There are still a lot of questions surrounding Metro, Microsoft’s tablet operating system, but we’ve seen where the company is going and it looks like they have a plan this time.
While Microsoft is clearly aiming for the iPad, I don’t think Windows 8-based tablets will have much affect on Apple’s popular device. Instead, Android tablets will suffer the brunt of Microsoft’s market share gains when its partners release products.
The reason, I believe, is very simple. People are looking for an alternative to existing Android tablets, but nobody is looking to replace the iPad.
Microsoft will have a built-in customer base with Windows 8, but previous projects like the Kin and Courier show that you can’t rely on that base to make a new product successful.
Apple customers these days are also Microsoft customers. The iPhone, iPod, and iPad transcend those operating system and company battles that have raged for decades. People are happy to run Windows and own an Apple device too.
Microsoft are going to have to prove they have a device that can beat the iPad — I don’t think they can do that.
What I think they can do is provide users with a viable alternative to Android. It’s an alternative that many people will try.
While I believe Microsoft will be successful in its tablet strategy, I also think that Amazon will be successful too. Again, this will be at the expense of Android-based tablets.
Amazon has a solid name among consumers. Millions of people shop there and they are trusted. As soon as Amazon comes out with a tablet, people will start buying.
Even though it will be based on Android, consumers will only see as far as the Amazon name. People will look at the device as an expanded Kindle rather than a tablet and buy it for that reason.
There is a whole subset of users that would be happy to have a tablet to read books, surf the Web and get email. That’s all they want, and all they need. Amazon’s tablet will be perfect for them.
Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple
All Apple has to do at this point is not screw up. If they continue releasing solid hardware and software, they will continue to rule the tablet space with little other effort.
Of course, I expect Apple to continue to innovate and maintain its wide lead on other manufacturers, but they could sustain the margin even if they sat still.
Microsoft and Amazon will offer solid alternatives to Android-based tablets and they will all fight for second place and whatever scraps are leftover from that.
The battle remains for second place.