Saturday, June 16, 2012

Microsoft to unveil self-branded Windows tablet at hush-hush June 18 event: source

Can Microsoft, ridiculed for its failures in mobile (which cost its CEO Steve Ballmer a pretty penny, by the way), succeed where Android has thus far failed? Reports are that Microsoft will unveil a tablet next Monday that will be its first attempt to produce an "iPad killer."

There have been many attempts to produce an "iPad killer," but all have failed. The best-selling Android tablet, the Kindle Fire, doesn't even use a tablet-optimized version of the platform. Although it has been an undeniable success, reports are that its sales and popularity, much of it fueled by its low $199 price, are fading.

It's not as though there are no Windows tablets. There are Windows 7 tablets from various manufacturers. However, this is rumored to be a Microsoft-branded tablet.

The company has scheduled what it was clear will be a "major" event for Monday June 18 at 3:30 p.m. PDT in Los Angeles, Calif. That is all the detail the Redmond, Wa.-based firm has given out; not even the location is yet known.

However, TheWrap has been told by a source with knowledge of the situation that the announcement will center around a tablet will be Microsoft-manufactured and branded (remember, Microsoft does build hardware, including the Xbox 360).

Will the tablet support Windows 8 (meaning it would Intel-based) or Windows RT (meaning it would be ARM-based, like a "normal" tablet or smartphone)? That information wasn't detailed in the report.

What is most evident is that the announcement is huge. Microsoft has made that crystal-clear.

Could a Microsoft-branded tablet send its OEMs running? It could, but where would they go? Would they go to Android, where tablets have failed, and where Google has its own hardware side, Motorola? Google also has its Nexus projects that produce pure Android devices in concert with OEMs.

So OEMs running off? That doesn't seem likely.

Meanwhile, though, assuming it is an "iPad killer," how will Microsoft make it a success? The tablets that have run up against the iPad stone wall have all crashed and burned, to an extent. We's say:

Microsoft must have a number of tablet-optimized apps set to go on release. Apple has made great hay of the lack of Android tablet-optimized apps, although it is true that Android apps o not, n general,need tablet-optimization.

Microsoft needs to make this a global launch, like an iPad launch. And although the easiest way to do so is to eschew any carrier relationships at all and make this a wi-fi only tablet, a 3G / 4G enabled version would seem to be a necessity.

Finally, Microsoft must realize it cannot match Apple's prices. Instead, beat them. When most people think tablet they think iPad, because Apple popularized the idea of a tablet.

We'll see what happens after the Monday afternoon announcement.

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