Microsoft unveiled its second generation of tablets today, taking the wraps off the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2 as well as some slick new peripherals. And while both new versions feature incremental improvements over the previous Surface devices, the improvements are pretty compelling: The Surface 2 — Microsoft has dropped the “RT” — features a more powerful processor and higher-resolution screens, addressing two of the most common complaints about the original (as Ars Technica noted). The Surface Pro 2 also has a better processor and offers 75 percent better battery life than its predecessor.
But I think Microsoft has failed to learn two important lessons from its original tablets, both of which failed to ring up much in the way of sales. The Surface 2 starts at $449, which may be a non-starter for many consumers in a tablet market that largely comprises $200 Android devices and the $329 iPad mini. So Microsoft once again seems to be focused on generating big margins with its tablets rather than making them more affordable, which would help the company gain market share and expand the larger Windows business.
And as Dan Rowinski at ReadWrite points out, Microsoft is touting the power and speed of its new tablets rather than explaining how the gadgets can improves the lives of consumers. I think Microsoft made a huge mistake last year when it opted to push its first tablets with a series of ridiculous commercials focused on popping and locking rather than taking a page from Apple’s playbook and showing consumers why they should consider a Surface. If today’s media event is any indication, Microsoft once again has failed to understand how to convince users to buy its products.