Microsoft has made its entry into the tablet space in grand style, announcing the sleek and well-adorned Surface tablet. In comparison the iPad looks under-equipped and many Android tablets look like a big, jumbled mess with a clumsy interface.
But even given some of the strengths Surface has over its rivals, Microsoft still faces a major challenge of convincing users to drop their iPads and set aside their plans for Android adoption.
Particularly in the case of iOS, Microsoft simply having a more impressive competing product is unlikely to be enough to unseat Apple and convince users to abandon their devices.
Apple is a company that prides itself on brand loyalty, along with a dollop of fashion sense. Microsoft will further struggle to compete with Apple on the hipness factor, especially in its current state. Electronics warehouse vendors just don't have the same kind of appeal as the Apple store.
And what of the Android users who crave more flexibility and options in their devices? The Android platform and its users have long prided themselves on being the anti-iPad crowd. Surface has no shortage of connections, ports and hardware stats, but will this be enough to overcome a user base which has embraced an open, customisable philosophy that has so often found itself at odds with Microsoft's corporate culture?
The Surface looks cool, but there must be doubts whether it can be cool enough to lure users away from two of the brands that have come to symbolise hip new consumer electronics. To do this, the Surface also has the difficult job of overcoming the stigma of the Microsoft brand in the mobile space.
And then there is the issue of shelf life. Microsoft has not even given a target release date for the Surface. And with Windows 8 not due to arrive for some months it is a virtual certainty that we will not be able to get our hands on the tablet until autumn at the earliest. When you're in a market that is maturing as fast as tablets, five months can be a very long time.
By that time, Apple will have added Siri to an iPad platform that already features support for 4G wireless broadband networks along with a host of other features in iOS 6. Android vendors will have had the time to prepare their new models with competitive hardware, and with so many other PC vendors experimenting out there, the Surface might not even be the most impressive Windows 8 tablet upon its release.
So, while Microsoft has indeed shown off an impressive product in the Surface, serious questions remain about how long it will remain so, and whether it has what it takes to steal the market away from today's mobile leaders.
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