After the latest results, clearly showing that the beginning of Windows RT was not as good as expected, one has to think what could be done to fix the whole situation. I hope Microsoft people are taking notes (and I am also available for consulting :-p), so here we go, let’s design Surface RT2 together:
-It’s NOT (only) about apps. Hunting developers down to write apps for the platform is not the way to go, if your platform lacks other stuff (see below). The apps will come if your platform and hardware are interesting enough.
-Put LTE in there. When I got my first iPad, I got a 3G version but never really used it. But talking with people, I discovered that mobile data is REALLY important, so make sure Surface 2 has LTE functionality. I know people can use a 4G USB modem, but they don’t. Of course, make it optional, not everybody really needs it.
-Never, ever release under-powered machines. Surface RT is nice and all, but even my Samsung ATIV Tab feels snappier. I know that Windows RT are optimized, fast and fluid and all, but if the hardware lacks behind, it reflects bad on the whole thing. Many people don’t care why this is true, they just don’t want it to be there. Find ARM chips that make Windows RT REALLY fast and if you can’t, build them. We know you got the resources.
-Bundle the keyboard (touch or type) with the tablet. Every commercial I’ve seen focuses on the keyboard only for people to decide that it’s a rather expensive add-on.
-Keep the price low. After recent price cuts, it’s more reasonable, but the initial pricing was just ridiculous. It was almost priced as high as the iPad without offering as much. I don’t know how you will do it, sell more XBoxes to cover the losses, but when you create a new platform, and this is what RT is, you HAVE to lure people in. Even if you take a loss at the beginning. It’s like letting people pirate the first versions of DOS, remember?
– I personally love the idea of a desktop-as-an-app where one can actually run full versions of Office 2013 when they need to. But when people pick up a tablet, they should NEVER EVER be dropped on a desktop environment unless they specifically request that (by tapping the Desktop tile for example). In that capacity, make ALL Office apps available in RT form, with limited functionality of course (at least as feature enabled as Pages and Keynote on the iPad if not more), but usable completely without a keyboard and mouse. The desktop Office and IE should be there as the “one more thing” the Surface RT can provide. The same goes for ANY form of Control Panel settings page. EVERYTHING should be on a familiar and consistent metro touch friendly environment. Right now, it REALLY shows that the product is half baked. You even left Windows Defender running for some reason, even though users cannot run ANYTHING that doesn’t come from the Store.
In conclusion, people just don’t get it. Naming the new platforms Windows anything is a classic mistake. You made the same mistake with Windows Phone. I know how much you love Windows, but the Xbox is successful partly exactly because it is not called Windows anything. When someone buys something that runs Windows something and resembles a computer, they expect it to be a Windows computer. Which Surface RT is not. When they buy a phone that is called Windows something, they might expect blue screens of death and drivers installations, even though that is not the case with the excellent platform that Windows Phone is. But me knowing that is not nearly good enough. In branding and communication, I would give you a low mark for the past 2 years, when it comes to the new platforms (Windows Phone and Windows RT). And if you don’t believe me, go outside and ask non-technical people what is the first thing that comes to their mind when they see a tablet-thingy that runs Windows something. Or a phone.
Surface RT can still succeed (and I am not the only one that says so). Just make sure you fix the important stuff first and fast so that you can save it on round 2. Because otherwise, I don’t see a round 3.