A letter from Microsoft Surface’s team recently invited a small few to a gathering in New York City on May 20th. The team didn’t say much else but tweets were afly with the suggestion that the release of the Surface ‘Mini’ tablet will be discussed. Many anticipated the announcement of a miniature version of the Surface tablet last year during an event in which the Surface Pro 2 was released.
There are many rumors surrounding the specs of the Surface Mini. For instance, the 7.5″ screen may be fully HD and have a 4:3 aspect ratio. This means the mini tablet will feature a widescreen display. The Surface mini may also run Windows RT and include a camera that recognizes human face and hand movements.
Despite the excitement, Microsoft has experienced substantial losses with the Surface tablet. In the latest quarter, Microsoft spent $539 million in advertising, marketing and sales strategies to achieve only $494 million in tablet sales. This trend has continued from 2013, during which The Guardian reported that Microsoft consistently spent $40 to $200 million more in generating attention for the Surface tablet than in sales. Competitors’ tablets, such as the Ipad, sell much more frequently. The Ipad reportedly pulled in almost $8 billion in sales, which the company considered “low”. PCWorld reports that Surface revenue is just “11%” of the Ipad tablet’s.
Last year at a Microsoft event, many thought that the Surface ‘Mini’ would be unveiled. Instead, one of the products that was delivered was the Surface 2. That tablet has gotten mixed reviews. While some praise the improved response and speed in comparison to its predecessor, many are confused by the intended purpose of the tablet. While the Ipad appears to seamlessly bridge the gap between stylish, user-friendly mac products and professionals outside of the creative industries, the Surface 2 appeared scatterbrained in regards to its target clientele.
Dan Rowinski on readwrite.com asks Microsoft whether the Surface 2 is truly intended to be a tablet or a notebook. Rowinski notes that the Surface 2 remained somewhat confusing to users and mentions that the desktop mode is a little baffling. Microsoft’s staple applications, such as Word, Excel, and the like, are also apparently difficult to fully utilize on the Windows-RT, touchscreen device. With more fluid tablets such as the Ipad and Android tablets, consumers will probably not want to risk switching to a device with a history as glitchy as the Surface’s.
In his review, Rowinski notes that the Surface’s portable-business assistant model did not quite translate in the Surface 2. Microsoft created a tablet with PC functions that were “forced” into a somewhat gelded tablet experience. Perhaps the mini will remedy this dissonance by providing the kind of portable size and utility that parallels the tablet-sized versions of core Microsoft applications that are found on their tablets.
While Microsoft users are excited about the potential release of the Surface Mini, even though the tablet series has suffered financial losses, it is not confirmed that the mini will even be the topic of conversation at the private event to be held on May 20th. The press release’s phrase join us for a “small gathering” may just be coincidence or a subtle wink to loyal consumers.
By: James Ryder