Acer big cheese: Microsoft Surface sales will be 'superficial'
Redmond bite will inflict only minor wound on us
Microsoft Surface: No competitive threat, says Acer
Acer EMEA boss Oliver Ahrens has brushed aside Microsoft's foray into the tablet market, dismissing the Surface as a competitive threat.
Last week the covers were lifted off the Surface, a 10.6 inch devices, based on ARM and Intel platforms.
"Microsoft still has a big agenda for improving the user touch experience on Windows 8 and we hope this approach does not defocus them, but from a competitive point of view we are not concerned, not a bit," said Ahrens.
He took the helm of the PC maker's EMEA operation last year amid a significant changing of the guard as the firm tried to get a hold on its inventory issues and return to profits.
Ahrens told The Channel that later this year Acer is launching a portfolio of hardware that will run on Win 8 already – tablets, ultrabooks and clamshell notebooks – and reckons Microsoft should stick to its knitting too.
Microsoft in 'complex situation'
Distributors have yet to be informed if they will get access to the Surface but several assume they will - at least that is what they told us.
Asked if Microsoft's stab at fondleslabs was due to a lack of confidence in the ability of PC makers to get the most out of the next-gen OS, Ahrens replied "could be", but he found this line of thinking "astonishing", given Acer's line-up.
"If Microsoft doubts that [OEM] partners can do that job that is fine. I think they are in quite a complex situation because they are suppliers and partners for all the PC vendors, and [now] they have their own hardware," he added.
He said Acer has placed its chips behind Windows 8 with "products for every client [type]" despite not yet knowing which SKUs will be the biggest sellers.
And the reason for the relaxed attitude to Microsoft's Surface – at least publicly – is that the PC vendor does not anticipate many being sold due to the price tag, which Microsoft has not yet confirmed but which Acer has estimated.
"Like our [Iconia] W700 [Ivy Bridge Windows 8 tablet] it will have a price of €800, so from a pricing point of view it's a premium segment," said Ahrens.
Office out of the box
Last week, DigiTimes claimed that Taiwanese contract manufacturer Pegatron is building the Surface – with the Ivy Bridge model reported to be above $799 and the ARM-powered Windows RT above $599.
The build quality of the Surface is "impressive", said Tim Coulling, analyst at Canalys, but he suspects that Microsoft had paid for this development, which would be reflected in a high buy price.
"RT will compete with the iPad and Android devices and will be priced higher which may make it struggle... Microsoft could be on dangerous ground because the market has told us that if prices are high there has to be a round of cuts before it sells out".
Coulling said the extent of the danger was dependent on the volumes that Microsoft orders Pegatron to build.
He said Microsoft was putting its weight behind the device, offering "Office out of the box", but questioned if there was any consumer demand for that group of softwares on a tablet. He pointed out:
"It [Office] has never been on an iPad; there are plenty of alternatives out there that are cheaper."
According to Canalys market share numbers for 2011, Apple accounts for more than 71 per cent of tablet sales, Samsung had an 8 per cent share and Acer had a 4.4 per cent slice.
Microsoft declined to comment. ®
Wait for the backlash
I wonder how customers will feel when they discover their $600 Windows tablet doesn't even run Windows software. I see more appeal in the more expensive actual Windows 8 version but then again for that price (which almost certainly does not include the keyboard), the question is why not just buy an ultrabook.
Anyone want to make a bet that 1 month after Microsoft releases its Surface tablet, we will have no idea how many they sold the opening weekend? That we'll have to rely on third-party estimates and guesses?
That 3 months later Microsoft still won't have released sales figures?
When they finally get around to releasing some numbers, they'll tell us how many units they've 'sold' to retail outlets and not how many were sold to actual end users?
Why am I so certain that Microsoft will act in this manner? Easy:
That's the kind of BS they've pulled with the Kin, Zune, and Windows Phone 7.
Even now, it's hard to track down the real sales numbers for those products.
Notice that MS had no problem tracking and reporting sales numbers for Kinect when it came out. Every time you turned around you were hit with another story about how well it was selling, and how many units had flown off the shelves.
This time, they haven't even waited for the Surface's release to start their obfuscating. Try finding any meaningful information:
What's the battery life while watching movies, surfing the web, on standby?
How much space is the OS going to take up?
What's the price?
What kind of warranty will it have?
How and where will you get apps?
How well does it perform compared to the competition?
How will it get its updates?
How will you get the kickstand replaced when (not if) it breaks?
Has anyone actually seen anyone type using the keyboard cover? It represented one of the biggest selling points for the Surface, yet not one of the presenters did any actual typing. They didn't explain how the Surface and keyboard communicate with each other, nor did they talk about the keyboards power source. Does it have a separate battery, and if so, how do you charge it? Why weren't any of the tech reporters allowed to have any hands-on time? That all leads me to believe the keyboard was a mock up and not a functional item. Pretty ballsy, if you ask me.
So - OK then. Anyone willing to bet me that 1 year from release date the Surface will have been sunk?
Wait, Acer said that? The Surface may turn out to be successful after all.
Re: Wait for the backlash
Or it could be just that MS is doing some really good things these days. Do you assume the same thing about any positve comment about Apple products or Google products? Seriously, if someone is so blinkered that they can't understand enthusiasm about a product without thinking it is a plant, then they have no business being in IT in the first place because quite frankly, MS have brought out some great stuff (as I'm sure Apple and Google have, but I only really know MS and Linux). Go and read the Windows 8 development blog and see all the cool stuff going in for developers and then tell me someone is wrong to be enthusiastic.
Look at these forums without bias and what would one logically conclude? Seeing numerous posts heavily down-voted just for being positive or enthusiastic about an MS product, one would conclude if there were anything going on, it would be against MS. So why assume the opposite? Because it fits ones own preferences better? It's the only explanation I have.
Re: Wait for the backlash
"As for pro-Google / pro-Apple comments, I think in both cases it comes down to both companies fostering genuine support far more than Microsoft ever did."
It's basically as I said. You yourself do not appreciate how cool much of the new MS stuff is, thus you have difficulty appreciating someone else's sentiment as sincere. But if someone is enthusiastic about an Apple or Google product, that wont be astroturfing because these companies are good / worth being enthusiastic about.
Have you considered that accusations of astroturfing are both offensive to many and actually unethical to make? You are, after all, attempting to damage the reputation of a company with no reasonable evidence. Is that a good thing to do? Would you like it if the same climate was fostered against any other business?
"Uncritical adoration of any company isn't as bad as astroturfing but it's not rational either."
And allowing that it may not be astroturfing, you fall back to implying that if it isn't, then it's "uncritical adoration" instead. I think firstly that I don't see "uncritical adoration" much for MS. I see posts saying what is liked, often enough with criticism, but seldom if ever posts expressing 'MS is the best ever and can do no wrong' which is what "uncritical adoration" means to me. Why would you see such? I might post on the subject of my WP7 device that I really like the interface or that it only cost me £160. I'm not going to randomly tag on that the Calendar app in Windows 8 needs a three week ahead view as well as calendar months. It is just not relevant. That doesn't mean that my post is "uncritical adoration". It's just On Topic.
Secondly, I point out again that if you don't like something yourself and lack the ability to see things from someone else's point of view, then you're going to see positive comments from others as "uncritical adoration" or "not rational". You should be very, very sure that you yourself do not have a bias before attempting to judge whether someone else's comments are biased.