The long-awaited Windows tablet debut from Microsoft is here, but some in the industry are already lining up to complain that the price is too high.
The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant announced Wednesday that the Surface, its very first tablet – aimed at both the general consumer and the business user – will go on sale on Oct. 26; pre-orders have already begun.
The Surface features a one-of-a-kind keyboard cover that works like a kickstand, propping it up like a picture frame. But is that enough to warrant a $599 price tag for 32GB of storage? (You can get it without the cover for $499.) The 16GB version of Microsoft's leading competitor, Apple's iPad, sets you back $399. Two of the industry's other bestsellers – the 8GB Google Nexus 7 and the 16GB Amazon Kindle Fire HD – sell for $199. The Surface will have a hard time competing on price, says Sterne Agee's Shaw Wu.
"We believe Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD will likely see considerably higher volume given their low $199 price points and stronger ecosystems with iPad retaining its commanding No. 1 position," Agee noted. " ... Surface's high pricing could prove to be a fatal mistake and relegate it to be a niche No. 4 or No. 5 player ... We believe $299 including the cover-keyboard would have been much more compelling."
No official word yet on how pre-orders are going, but there's one good sign. The company has moved back its shipping-date timeline, saying customers will get their new tablets "within three weeks."