After Microsoft announced their beautiful Surface tablet and positioned it as a tablet that bridges the gap with the PC, there was some discussions on whether we are heading into the post-PC world dominated by tablets or we are going to see a new form of device that is neither tablet nor PC. Some even enthusiastically claimed that this will force Apple to change strategy away from iPad to Microsoft model. This fact was somewhat emphasized by Bill Gates during his take on Surface at Charlie Rose Show recently.
I do agree that Microsoft Surface tablet bridges the gap between the PC era and tablets and Microsoft’s Windows 8 Metro approach is a strategy to make the experience seamless between these two type of devices. In fact, I even strongly believe that Microsoft Surface can be a winner in the enterprise market and the reason is their ability to bridge the PC world and Tablet world with Surface. However, I disagree with arguments that claim that this move by Microsoft will force Apple to change its strategy. If anything, Steve Jobs and Apple had already seen the need to bridge both worlds and they have a plan to seamlessly bridge the gap without having to invent a new “category of devices”.
The shift in Apple’s strategy was evident when they announced OSX Lion and a slew of Mac accessories like magic mouse and magic trackpad. Their newer generation of laptop trackpads and OSX Mountain Lion signify their efforts to make the experience between a PC and mobile seamless. Availability of SSD based Macbook Pro with retina display is another indicator of how they see the convergence between PC era and tablets. I don’t buy the arguments put forward by Microsoft punditry on how Surface could push Apple on the back foot.
Even though tablet adoption is increasing in leaps and bounds and it is penetrating enterprise market in a rapid pace, the use of PCs are not going to go away. Yes, PC growth has been severely stunted but it is not going to die anytime soon. If the recent increase in the sales of Apple laptops are any indication, PC market will co-exist with Tablet market. A strategy of creating a newer type of device is less likely to succeed than a strategy of making the experience seamless between PCs and tablets. I would prefer if Surface is projected as a tablet meant for Windows users than a newer category of devices.
In short, any claims that Microsoft will push Apple to change strategy is disingenuous and, if anything, the real question is whether Microsoft will be able to attract Windows users to Microsoft tablets by offering a seamless experience between their PCs and tablets. Apple will continue in their path of “world domination” even though they might do some course corrections by offering smaller iPads to compete with low end tablets. I am sure I am going to get some brickbats from Apple fanboys/gals now with the following statement but, hey, I thrive in controversies :-). If there is anyone who is going to push Apple to rethink strategy completely in the mobile world, it is Google with their Google Glass project and beyond. #justsayin.