Microsoft is one of the largest, most successful computing companies in the world. However, they’ve been slowly but surely losing their market share to Apple, and its industry-leading product line. Millions of people use Microsoft releases each and every day, but with every iPhone, MacBook and iPad purchase, more and more consumers pledge their allegiance to Apple hardware and software. It seems that Microsoft is about to take an aggressive step aimed at reversing that trend, and though their announcement is still shrouded with secrecy, industry insiders think Microsoft is poised to reveal a tablet that could compete with Apple’s enormously popular iPad.
Late last Thursday, Microsoft sent an invitation out to press and the industry for an event to be held Monday night at a secret location. It is thought the event will be held somewhere near or within Hollywood, California, and will be an opportunity for the company to announce their SmartGlass app, which was designed to connect a user’s television service with their tablet or smartphone. Other industry insiders expect the Microsoft tablet to offer an ebook feature through a partnership with Barnes & Noble, especially since the two companies inked a $300 million agreement in late April and have yet to announce what they are working on together.
In the past, Microsoft has focused entirely on software. The idea is that they would develop top of the line software offerings, and then license those out to other companies that design and market hardware, to make sure that the software is accessed by the largest possible amount of consumers. But while that strategy may have had efficacy in the past, Apple is proving that he who makes the sexy hardware wins the day. Both Apple and Google outpace Microsoft in tablet sales, which is becoming a huge percentage of the overall personal computing market. In fact, it is expected that tablets will make up fully 40% of all PC sales by the end of 2016. This has an additional negative side effect for Microsoft, as their sales of Windows software have slowed significantly. Microsoft has taken the changing market into consideration in other ways, as the upgraded Windows 8, launching in late 2012, was created to work seamlessly on tablets.
Michael Cherry, an analyst with a market research firm based in Redmond that focuses on Microsoft, suggested this was a direct acknowledgment of the changing market. He claimed that for Microsoft to have a hand in a user’s experience from start to finish, as well as to maintain quality control, it is inevitable that they get into the hardware game. Also inevitable is the dominance of Apple and Google if Microsoft doesn’t take a firmer stance. Google will be unveiling their own tablet at an event at the end of the month, so Microsoft must be hoping to take some wind out of their competitors’ sails with the timing of this announcement. Of course, Microsoft hasn’t had nearly as much success as their competitors with hardware, so it remains to be seen if consumers embrace their new product, regardless of the announcement. Microsoft would not comment to reporters on the content of their announcement, but it better be something more exciting than their same old offerings bundled with a Griffin Survivor if they want to truly make a mark.