Today Engadget posted an article that got the tech world buzzing. According to anonymous source Microsoft plans to release the Surface RT tablet for the incredibly low price of $199! As a reminder (in case you haven’t been dreaming about it nightly since it was first announced) this isn’t exactly a low-end tablet. For starters it’s rocking a 10.6″ HD screen and at least 32GB of storage. That’s a far cry from the 7″ screen and 8GB of storage offered on the comparably priced [amazon_link id=”B0051VVOB2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Amazon Kindle Fire[/amazon_link] and Nexus 7 (review) tablets.
So the immediate response to the idea of the Surface RT starting at $199 seems completely unbelievable. For one thing, what would this price do to the already shaky relationship that the mere existence of this device has already caused? If the Acers of the world were already upset with simply having to compete with the great hardware and design of this device, how much more angry would they be at the thought of Microsoft releasing the Surface at a potentially huge loss?
But what if Microsoft’s plan doesn’t involve selling millions of Surface tablets for years to come? We’ve already speculated in the past that Microsoft’s primary goals with the Surface tablets must be to (a) show their hardware partners how good a tablet really can be and (b) generate a huge amount of interest from the press, tech enthusiasts, and developers for the new Windows 8 operating system. Given that, what if Microsoft’s plan is to sell a very small amount of Surface tablets? What if their plan is to ship a few hundred thousand on the launch day, and then simply be done with production?
On the surface (pun intended) this idea sounds as crazy as the rumored price! However, it would help to achieve the goals that we think they are looking for. It would generate huge interest and buzz from the people who live on the cutting edge of technology, and it would most likely be a big enough story to make a splash on the 6pm news and other mainstream news outlets. The people who bought them would then be able to show all of their friends and family which would of course lead to consumers looking for comparable devices. At this point, the only options would be tablets produced by Microsoft’s hardware partners, like Acer, Asus, Dell, etc. This would please those OEMs, as they wouldn’t have to do as much up-front marketing since Microsoft would have already taken care of that. Another benefit to this strategy is that some of those early adopters would probably be developers who would then be interested in creating more applications for their new toy.
We still need to try to keep our excitement in check. The idea that the Surface RT will launch October 26th for $199 sounds fantastically crazy. Is it just crazy enough to actually work?
Update: Phil posted his thoughts on this topic too. He doesn’t think there is any chance of the Surface RT launching for $199. Honestly, as I tried to state earlier, I don’t think we should get our hopes up for it either. Phil did a great job of explaining why he doesn’t think it will happen.