According to a source that spoke to engadget, the Microsoft Surface will be $199. That’s a lot lower than expected (and I expect the Intel version to be much more expensive). It is certainly a compelling price, and definitely runs along the Xbox 360 path of trying to under-cut competitors with the money they have in the bank from other divisions.
$199 puts the Surface in direct competition with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7. But it runs Windows 8, not Android. A relatively untested platform for mobile users. Also, Amazon has experience making hardware, and Google’s partners certainly do.
Note here that Microsoft aren’t going after Apple’s iPad here. That price point is too low. Of course some consideration will be given to the idea that Apple will release a smaller, cheaper iPad soon but even at that, Microsoft are probably happy to let Apple run the show for a while. They want to take Android out of the game with this.
The issue they have is that, as cheap as the device may be, the need developers making really solid apps for it. The fact that no one is getting a chance to play with one before it comes out is a bit odd. After every Apple, Google or Amazon annoucement, there’s a press room where people get to play with the device, shoot videos and take photos. Not the case with Microsoft. This makes me a bit apprehensive about it’s future. Sure, it might not be ready. But don’t announce it when it isn’t ready. Apple, Google and Amazon all announce devices with a date and price. Microsoft did neither. This is very confusing to the market. Even if you heard about it and decided it was the device for you – you can’t buy it, or even pre-order it.
The other speculated rumour is that the device will launch in October. Perfect for the Christmas market, especially at that price point, but if Apple launch a $200-ish tablet in September and have them shipping consistently in October & November, then Microsoft will be rolled over with the hype train that Apple usually inspires. They also will find it difficult to answer the question of who’s got the better app market. It’s unquestionable going to be Apple, but more worryingly, Android’s market would still be better – even on the Kindle Fire’s locked down version of the Android store.