As iPad Mini Looms, Microsoft Surface Is Back-Ordered
A mobile device and operating system war could be on the point of breaking out. And this time, Google and Android are strictly on the sidelines. Even as anticipation builds for the presumed impending launch of the iPad Mini, demand for the Microsoft Surface hybrid tablet is surging--enough so that the device is now officially on back-order.
This sign of tablet buyers' enthusiastic interest in Surface is obviously good news for Microsoft. But it could also be good news for the IT community. As compared to other tablets, whether iPads or devices running on Android, Microsoft Surface promises to be a business-friendly and IT-friendly device. The greater its commercial success, the better prospect that it will become a viable bring-your-own device (BYOD) option for IT managers at midsize firms.
As Brooke Crothers reports at CNET, no sooner had Microsoft Surface officially gone on sale than delivery of the most basic version (without the Touch Cover keyboard) was officially pushed back three weeks. Now, according to Microsoft, the two more expensive versions with Touch Cover are also back-ordered "one to two weeks." Microsoft also states that, whatever its online availability, all three initial Surface models will be available at Microsoft's brick-and-mortar stores beginning on October 26.
In addition to challenging Apple's impending iPad Mini, the Surface is also seen as a challenger on the PC front, going up against Windows RT and Windows 8 computers from Acer, Asus, HP, and Lenovo. But the throw down to Apple is the center ring event. The two companies have been legendary rivals since the 1980s. But this is the first time that a Microsoft computing device has been directly pitted against an Apple device.
Computing or Consumption?
The outcome of this head-to-head contest matters to the IT world because Microsoft is doing more than taking on a particular Apple device. It is taking on Apple's purely consumer-centric model for the mobility era.
This is what truly distinguishes Surface from Android-powered offerings from Amazon's Kindle Fire to Google's Nexus 7. These tablets all have the same basic functionality as the iPad. And like it they are designed primarily for "consuming media."
In contrast, the Surface, especially the versions with the Touch Cover, is a hybrid tablet with much of the functionality of a netbook or even a laptop. It allows more complex user interaction. And of course, it runs Windows. IT professionals at midsize firms may not always love Windows, but they are familiar with it and it is oriented toward business tasks. It thus offers a far more IT-friendly model of mobility. If successful, it may even draw imitators, which could be good news for IT.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Follow Rick Robinson on Google+.