If you were hoping to purchase a new tablet this holiday season, you're in luck. Between Microsoft’s recent launch of the Surface 2, Nokia unveiling what seemed like 100 new devices at Nokia World and then Apple’s unveiling of the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display – there are several to choose from. Which should you buy?
Iteration From Apple
Apple's in a bit of a pickle right now, and it knows it. It used to enjoy close to 100 percent market share because Apple invented the category. Now, it has about 49 percent market share and the numbers are trending in the wrong direction.
The company knew it had to make a big splash to regain some momentum. It showed off two new devices: the iPad Air, which is thinner, happier, better, yummy yummy; and a new Retina display version of the iPad mini, which at 7 inches is a great form factor. They're good. But it’s not really true innovation. (That’s not to say Apple can’t do true innovation anymore; the newly re-designed Mac Pro that was shown off just before the new iPads is stunning.)
But when Apple unveiled its new iPads, CEO Tim Cook said, "Our competitors don't really know what they're doing.” He said that his competitors are making tablets, they're making notebooks, they're making Chromebooks. Cook said that Apple’s clear focus and singular vision is better. I disagree. Truthfully, Apple is just making iPads. They're making them great. If you like an iPad, nothing else will do. But, if you want a combination of a PC and a tablet, Microsoft is really working hard.
So… What’s Going on Between Nokia and Microsoft?
It makes no sense for Nokia to unveil a brand new tablet, powered by Windows RT, on the same day that Microsoft launched its new Surface 2 tablets. Nokia’s about to be bought by Microsoft, yet for some reason still thought it was a good idea to unveil what’s basically the same unit as the new Surface 2 (the new version of the tablet known as the Surface RT). Both of these devices are crippled because they're both RT units. The Lumia 2520 and the Microsoft Surface 2 are literally both the same unit from a technology standpoint.
The standout tablet from either company is the Surface Pro 2, which is a whole other thing because it's expensive. It's basically a laptop that's sold without the keyboard... which you will purchase separately making it even more expensive. The Surface Pro 2 with a keyboard is far more expensive than an iPad Air and more than double the price of the new iPad mini. Nothing to compare here. The Surface Pro 2 competes with Windows Ultrabooks, not Apple iPads.
Remember: It’s Not Microsoft vs. Apple
The Surface Pro 2 is getting great reviews … but there’s no one lining up to buy them. The battle is not between Microsoft and Apple. The battle is between Google and Apple and, specifically, between Android devices and iOS devices. Microsoft hopes, wishes and prays to be included in the conversation, but it's not there. Microsoft is trying to create a market for tablet computing as opposed to tapping the market of tablet users – it may sound like a semantic argument, I assure you it is not.
Look at Microsoft’s operating systems. You have Windows 8 on a PC vs. Windows 8 on a tablet vs. Windows RT ... these are operating systems that people will like when they learn to use them, but Microsoft has done nothing to teach them to use them. When you walk up to Windows 8, you go, "I want it to be Windows 7!" Microsoft has missed all kinds of consumer opportunities. What they have to do is figure out how they're going to beat Apple and Google at the game Apple and Google are actually playing – a game Microsoft clearly does not understand.
Who Won Triple Tablet Tuesday?
Apple. It said, "We're going to be here for Christmas, and you're going to be happy!"
Who lost? Microsoft. It's about to go and spend a big chunk of money for Nokia, and Nokia's sitting there going, "We don't know what we're doing..." and Microsoft is saying the same thing. Microsoft's got some work to do. There’s a chance for Microsoft to make great strides in the tablet market, but looking at these holiday offerings, it's hard to be optimistic.