Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Science | By

Microsoft to take aim at new market with cheaper tablets

Microsoft to take aim at new market with cheaper tablets

Of course, many have tried and largely failed to take on the iPad - including Microsoft itself.

Today's reports bring back memories of the ill-fated Surface RT tablet, which ran on the ARM processors. The device would better compete with Apple's entry-level iPad and would return Microsoft to a market segment it abandoned when it stopped selling the Surface 3. The report says that the new Surface will feature 10-inch screens, iPad-like rounded edges, and battery life closer to the iPad's promised 10 hours than the prior Surface claim of 13.5 hours. What Bloomberg's sources did clarify, however, was that there will be multiple versions of the new tablets. They'll also reportedly charge via USB-C, which is excellent news for everyone, since Microsoft's proprietary charger is notoriously unreliable.

The report doesn't specify which operating system Microsoft will choose to power the tablet.

A representative for Microsoft declined to comment.

Although Microsoft has yet to have a blowout success with the Surface, interest in the devices has sparked in recent months, with Surface revenue growing 32% in the most recent quarter.

Apple's iPad business generated revenues of nearly $20 billion in the a year ago through sales of over 40 million iPads, according to Bloomberg. Microsoft officials have maintained the raison-d'etre for Surface is to establish new, untapped computing categories, not simply to make hardware for the sake of making hardware.

Microsoft has dabbled with more affordable tablets in the past. That compares with 9.1 million iPads sold in the same period.

The iPad will remain a significantly more affordable option, starting at just $329 - or $299 for those in education.

It's possible the Surface line has built up enough goodwill that Microsoft is confident PC buyers won't put the brand in detention for trying to appeal to students.

Alongside the devices, Microsoft plans to launch a cheaper keyboard cover, stylus and mouse - the current package costs $160. The tablets will still have the kickstand for upright typing and watching video. Being that Qualcomm is behind this initiative, I'm sure that Apple is already working on a next-gen iPad Pro that will maintain their market lead.

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