In an interesting interview with CNBC, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has suggested that tablet users may feel constricted by the limitations of their devices. His comments come despite the fact that 253 million tablets have now been sold worldwide, of which 141 million were iPads.
Gates spoke about the tablet user base and said that “a lot of those users are frustrated, they can’t type, they can’t create documents, they don’t have Office there, so we’re providing them with the benefits of something they’ve seen and made that a big category, but without giving up what they expect in a PC”. Gates is obviously referring to Microsoft Surface, which offers users a thin and compact keyboard in addition to the tablet’s regular touchscreen usability.
He also stated that Windows 8 is beginning to create a blur between PCs and tablets – the operating system supports both devices. Indeed, he lauded the features of Surface, which combines the portability of a tablet with the feature list of a PC. Is Gates really correct in his belief that a hybrid PC/tablet device is sought after by today’s user base?
Interestingly, Asus launched their transformer series in mid 2011. This design has evolved several times since then, and guess what? It has a portable keyboard docking station as well as its own free office program. While the transformer has proved successful in its various incarnations, Asus’ tablet series has never really presented the iPad with a strong challenge.
Will Surface be different? Perhaps. Microsoft have already managed to ship 900,000 devices, gaining 1.9% of the market and propelling Surface onto the list of the five most popular tablets. There are now rumours it will be updated in June, perhaps even appearing in a 7-inch format to challenge the iPad Mini.
When asked about Apple’s tumbling stock price, Gates merely explained that the competitive landscape was changing with the emergence of more players like Amazon, Facebook and Samsung. Commentators should not be too hasty to write off major technology companies experiencing periods of slow growth.
Most iPad users will never admit that they are frustrated and some even go as far as saying that keyboards are obsolete. Still, the fact remains that it is difficult to type on a touchsreen, as opposed to a physical keyboard. However, iPad and conventional Android tablet users have not ditched their devices in favour of the Asus transformer, which has been on the market for a long time.
Why should they discard their iPads to buy Microsoft’s Surface en masse? Bill Gates thinks Microsoft Office and a keyboard are the path to success. The truth is that the path has been on open view for a very long time due to Asus and very few have taken it.
Imagenote: World Economic ForumWikimedia/CC