As Surface Struggles: ‘No Plan B’ for Microsoft

As Surface Struggles: ‘No Plan B’ for Microsoft

So, what’s Microsoft’s backup plan if/when their Surface tablet falls on its face? Microsoft’s answer seems to be, “Backup plan? What’s a backup plan?”



Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference on Wednesday, Microsoft CFO Peter Klein dismissed the notion that the company should be working on a “Plan B” for the mobile sector.

“It’s less ‘Plan B’ than how you execute on the current plan,” Klein said, according to Reuters. “We aim to evolve this generation of Windows to make sure we have the right set of experiences at the right price points for all customers.”

So far, despite a massive marketing effort, Microsoft’s Surface tablets have debuted to “meh” reviews and less than satisfactory sales. Less than 900,000 Surface tablets were sold during the fourth quarter. In contrast, Apple’s popular iPad, the tablet the Surface was designed to kill, sold 23 million units in the same time period.

Microsoft initially restricted sales of the Surface to its own retail stores, and sales online. Since that misstep, they have taken moves to get the device into more outlets, such as Staples and Best Buy. At this point it remains to be seen what effect that will have on sales of the device.

Klein said getting the Surface, as well as other Windows 8 devices to sell better was a matter of “nuance”.

“It’s probably more nuanced than just you lower or raise prices,” he said. “it’s less a Plan B and more, how do you tweak your plan, how do you bring these things to market to make sure you have the right offerings at the right price points.”

Microsoft does have experience in the past going up against the “big boy” in a market. The company’s first video game machine, the original Xbox, never approached the sales figures of its main competitor, the Sony Playstation 2. However, the company took what it learned with its first generation machine, improved upon it with it’s second entry, the Xbox 360, and now the console runs neck and neck with Sony’s current generation console, the PS3.

Will Microsoft follow the same gameplan with the Surface? Back in August of last year, a full two months before the Surface launched, Microsoft published job listings that indicated it was already looking to develop the next generation of the Surface.

Will Microsoft release a smaller tablet in an attempt to compete with Apple’s iPad mini, and the Google Nexus? Will they abandon the tablet market like they did MP3 players, and stick to what they know best, Operating Systems and Office suites? Or, will they hang in and fight in the tablet market just as they did in the video gaming console marketplace?

What’s it gonna be Microsoft? Is the Surface tablet a Zune, or an Xbox?