Will Microsoft Shoot Itself in the Foot with Its Own Brand of Tablet?
When it comes to competing with Apple, Microsoft and Google are between a rock and a hard place.
According to rumors, Microsoft is preparing to unveil a Windows RT tablet under its own brand name, and one reason Google bought Motorola was to have the ability to build its own smartphones.
Problem is, if Microsoft enters the tablet space with its own hardware, what tablet maker will want to adopt Windows RT instead of Android? Microsoft will have a twofold advantage - it won't have to pay to license Windows RT from itself, and it can spread development costs across all Windows 8 licensees.
Seriously, what tablet maker is going to want to subsidize Microsoft's attempt to take on the iPad with its own hardware? And if Microsoft does this, there will also be the fear that someday Microsoft will enter the PC market with its own branded desktop and laptop PCs.
Google is in a similar situation with Android. Even though Android is free, (mostly) open source software, were Google to build its own tablet or smartphone, hardware makers might see it as unfair competition and defect to a alternative operating system.
Just as Apple failed to increase Mac OS market share by licensing its operating system, Microsoft or Google taking on their own customers so they can take on Apple seems doomed to failure. Sure, Apple has been very successful "making the whole widget" since the days of the Apple II, but that doesn't mean Microsoft or Google can duplicate its success, because both companies have used the very different model of licensing their operating systems.
Worldwide, only Android and Apple's iOS have significant and growing market share. Symbian and RIM are on the decline, webOS never really made a dent in the market, and Windows has such an insignificant part of the market that it's laughable. Although pundits are predicting great success for Windows RT, Samsung's Bada seems to be the only other mobile operating system that's growing - and at a very slow pace.
A Tough Nut to Crack
Apple doesn't have a stranglehold on the tablet OS market, but between iOS and Android, nobody else seems to be making a dent. RIM's PlayBook was a disaster, as was HP's TouchPad. Windows-based Tablet PCs are just a tiny niche in the PC market.
Were Microsoft to release its own Windows RT tablet, I would expect any manufacturer who was planning on selling a Windows tablet to immediately abandon those plans and look into Android and possibly webOS, which is now free and open source.
Were Microsoft and Google to build their own tablets, it could be the impetus the industry needs to look a other free, open source mobile platforms - and that could give webOS a well-deserved place in the market.
Just as Apple couldn't reinvent itself as an operating system company, Microsoft cannot turn itself into a tablet maker without offending every PC maker that licenses Windows. That said, looking at the mistakes HP and RIM have made in the tablet space, why would we expect Microsoft not to do something equally stupid?
Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.
Recent articles by Dan Knight
- The Late 2012 iMac Value Equation, 2012.10.31. Thinner, lighter, faster, USB 3, improved graphics, Fusion Drive option, and no SuperDrive sum up the new iMacs.
- The 13" Retina MacBook Pro Value Equation, 2012.10.30. Take the 13" MacBook Pro, add a Retina Display, remove the SuperDrive, and drop almost a pound from its weight.
- The Late 2012 Mac mini Value Equation, 2012.10.29. The entry-level Mac mini is a nice step up, but the top-end quad-core model is a powerhouse.
- More in the Mac Musings index.
Links for the Day
- Mac of the Day: Centris 610, introduced 1993.02.10. This was the Mac we used when we started Low End Mac in 1997.
- May 24 in LEM history: 99: Mac sales up, iMac sales down? - 01: Speeding up digital photography - 02: The Internet, research, and plagiarism - 04: NewerTech TiBook battery - Optical mice from Contour - 06: Power Mac today or Intel tomorrow? - 07: G5: Apple's last fling with PowerPC - G3: From 233 MHz to 1.1 GHz
- Support Low End Mac
Recent Content on Low End Mac
- World Book Encyclopedia 2012 DVD, Tommy Thomas, Reviews, 2013.03.05. "You may be asking yourself, in an age of Wikipedia and instant information, is World Book still relevant?"
- Vintage Computer Festival SouthEast, April 20-21, 2013, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2013.02.25. Old Apple gear and old PCs.
- iMessage: The Ultimate Messaging Service?, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2013.02.21. In most ways, Apple's iMessage is far superior to BlackBerry Messenger.
- More links in our archive.
- Best Mac mini Deals
- Best 13" MacBook Pro Deals
- Best Intel iMac Deals
- Best iPod touch Deals
- Best iPhone Deals
- Best iPod nano Deals
- Best iPod classic Deals
- Best Apple TV Prices
- More deals in our archive.
Low End Mac Reader Specials
Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
The Vintage Mac Museum
Mac Driver Museum
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ