When the iPad was first released a lot of people, myself included, asked who was going to pay $600 for a large phone. Well we know the answer now. But let’s remember at the time there were no alternatives. For that price you could get a garbage notebook or a heavy laptop, but none of them even competed on battery life. So none of them were competing in the all day tablet space. So I could preach all day about how a $600 web browser was crazy but you either paid that or you were not getting a tablet.
Since then a lot more ARM tablets have dropped. The Kindle, Nexus, Note, etc are all players in this space now and compete at a range of price points and sizes. But whether you are using an Android device or iPad they share a similar fate – they’re still large web browsers. Well fine you can Facebook with them too and play some casual games but let’s be real – none of them replace a PC. They’re generally too small and lack too many productive features (ok, they lack Office and if you don’t know why you need that, read this). So in came Windows RT and it was nice but lacked mass appeal and was somewhat slow in use relative to the leaders. Now we’re on a second wave of Surfaces and they feel overpriced…but maybe they’re not.

See, there’s finally a market shift underway and within a month we’ll have Windows 8.1 available and Haswells shipping with general availability (as well as Bay Trail). This starts a new phase for the tablet industry.  For the first time, at the $600 price point (and even below) you can choose between an ARM tablet and a full PC and if you take the PC route then you aren’t giving up anything – you will get an all day battery, slim form factor and finally productivity. So now you have the option at buying an oversized iPhone or buying a portable PC and if you go PC, then instead of compromising you get the benefits of a PC with support for USB, Flash, full Office and all the desktop apps you have been using for years.
In fact looking at the ARM tablets you finally can see why the Surface 2 is "cheap". See, we view it as overpriced because we compare it to a PC but we don’t do that to an iPad. That’s where Microsoft’s ads have been hitting home. So yes, a $450 ARM based Surface is expensive relative to a $450 Windows convertible, but it is cheap relative to a Note (at $550) or iPad. In fact if someone tells me they want an iPad for business use, I can finally suggest they get a Surface 2 for productivity. But I’ll always be thinking about all of the new Haswell tablets and convertibles.
This is a huge market shift. Microsoft finally released the platform they promised and Intel delivered on the chip. It is their game to lose at this point.  Let’s see what they actually get out the door now.


  1. I don’t know about you or anybody else, but my 5″ TabPhone replaced my PC, and Laptop, and my tablet was a waste of money.
    It also has “Office” apps or cloud office available.
    Windows RT has less to offer than my 3yr old Android. That’s why Surface RT fails.
    I seem to remember the mobile processor race starting with WinMo. “Maybe the next processor up will make this run better” Windows Mobile allways seems to be just one step ahead of it’s hardware.
    However I am impressed with how well WP8 runs on the current Nokia hardware.
    Enough so that I am waiting, just a little longer to see if the Nokia 1520, can persuade me not to buy the SNote3.

    • If your phone really did replace your PC you obviously weren’t doing much with it to begin with. That said, I’m looking forward to 8.1 and haswell, lets see what they can do with them.

    • I would guess that depends on what exactly you do with your Android device. I can tell you that with my WinRt tablet (Asus VivoTab RT) I can RDP to my Windows servers or desktops, I can actually print to my HP Color LaserJet, I can create, open and edit my Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote files (stored on SkyDrive) and will hopefully soon have real Outlook as well. I can stream music and video from my home network NAS. Oh, and yes, I can surf the web. Where are the apps? Well, I’ve found that with a 10″ tablet, I don’t really need apps that recreate the content of a company’s website, I can just use IE10 to go to the website in the first place. I also have a microSD card slot (with a 64GB card), a USB port (albeit with a dongle), and a microHDMI port, all things an iPad doesn’t have. My keyboard dock adds more USB and battery life. So, my little RT tablet does probably 90% or so of what I use my laptop for, maybe more, in a lot smaller and lighter form factor.

    • Seriously though, I am not totally satisfied with Android, I have run into an issue with the Stock browser on GB 2.3.3, keeps crashing if I leave Java enabled.
      But that is my only real problem with MY current device, I expect Chrome on a new device will solve that.
      In the mean time, I have been looking at WP8, in particular the Browser, the UI, the home screen functionality, and the apps available.
      Even if the hardware can meet my needs, the OS functionality, and MY wants and needs, do not match up.
      But I am still interested.
      Having both platforms available anyway helps fill in the gaps.

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