News coming from DigiTimes suggests that the elusive Windows 8 tablets that seem to be getting closer and closer to market may be hitting retail shelves at the same price-points we have come to expect from Apple. If this is true, it will mean that the new Microsoft-powered tablets will not be much competition for the tablets at the lower end of the price-spectrum such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire or RIM’s PlayBook. Unfortunately for the hardware vendors themselves this is due in large part to the prices coming from Intel for the processors needed to power their devices.
This creates a pretty significant problem for Microsoft and those vendors invested in creating mobile hardware for their new Windows 8 platform. To keep costs down, these manufacturers may need to look toward other processors such as those made by ARM. But these kinds of changes will take time and that is something in short supply with this release. People are already anxious to see Windows tablets running the latest version of the operating system and I am not sure the window (if you’ll pardon the pun) will still be open if it takes much longer to deliver something to consumers.
The tablet market really does appear to have a sweet spot for ‘the other guys’ in the us vs. them war waged between ‘Apple’ and ‘Everything But Apple’. Sales skyrocketed when Amazon released the Kindle Fire at the $199 price-point and others like RIM found they had to follow-suit in order to remain even slightly competitive.
What it comes down to is exactly who and where and what Windows 8 devices will be competing with. Without being a price-competitor they will have to convince consumers that they are worth investing in and that will be difficult with Apple being so firmly seated and experienced in this realm. Not even Android with their version 4 upgrades that were extremely well received and reviewed was able to unseat Apple at the throne in the upper-end price range.
If I was one of the companies involved, my concern would likely be having consumers feel they are better off buying a laptop if they are going to spend that much on something that runs Windows, and then having those same people talk themselves out of the laptop and into an iPad because what they really want is a tablet.