Nick Bilton tries to explain the failure of the Surface with one cause, here: Why the Surface RT Failed and the iPad Did Not – NYTimes.com. While I think this is one potential reason, I also think there are many reasons why it failed. Here are some more:
- Too expensive: comparatively to other tablet devices. Even if it was alot better, customers would be more likely to go with the equally impressive and less costly iPad or Android devices.
- No need for the product: if the other tablets lacked in some capacity, perhaps the Surface would have taken off. But the needs of tablet users was more than met by what was in the market.
- Network externalities: what used to work for Microsoft now worked against them. It’s not enough to develop a tablet: you have to develop all the things tablet users expect and support that as well. Otherwise you have to go to the commodity market.
Invalid reasons would be:
- Microsoft can’t do hardware: Microsoft can do hardware. Their XBOX line in particular is nowhere near the weakling of the Surface or Microsoft’s earlier hardware failure, the Zune.
- No one can compete with Apple: Google in conjunction with Samsung and others are doing a good job of competing with Apple.
- There is no room for more hardware in the market: again, Google and others have shown it is possible to compete in this space.
I don’t think Microsoft is done in this space. But I think they may approach it differently. We’ll see in the next two years.