Aug 11

15 Million Tablets; What Might Microsoft Do?


Last night, a few disparate blog discussions caused me to have an interesting thought: Is it possible that Turkey could be the catalyst that will cause Microsoft to finally get tablets right…?

In order to understand where I’m coming from, consider the following recent discussions.

<> Sales figures are never very easy to track down, but one recent website pegged the number of iPads sold as of early June, 2011, at ~25 million. ( See: http://ipadinsight.com/ipad-news/apple-announces-more-than-25-million-ipads-sold-since-launch )

<> There’s been a lot of discussion in recent months that Microsoft really has to get the tablet features of Windows 8 right. After years of talking the tabletPC talk but treating tablet features as a stepchild add-on to the basic Windows code (or pretty much ignoring it altogether; I’m looking at you, Office Team!), the iPad’s marketplace success has put the ball firmly back in Microsoft’s court. It’s time to walk the tabletPC walk… or concede the leadership to Apple and be a minor player forever. An interesting Ars Technica article about this was brought to light by JustAnotherDave in the Asus / EP121 Slate forum at TabletPCReview. (See: http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2011/08/a-sort-of-pc-how-windows-8-will-invade-tablets-and-why-it-might-work.ars/1 )

<> Finally, Engadget recently reported that Turkey might issue an invitation for Apple and Microsoft to bid on an order for 15 Million tablets for Turkey’s educational system! I find this mind-boggling on a number of levels. First, the sheer size of this possible order. Second, kudos to Turkey for putting this kind of emphasis on the value of education to their citizens. We all know that fancy electronics alone are no guarantee of scholastic excellence, but if Turkey can provide the right kind of supporting environment, their nation may reap a huge benefit. (See: http://www.engadget.com/2011/08/20/apple-microsoft-meet-with-turkish-minister-may-bid-to-supply-1/ )

Hmmm. So what am I thinking?

Just this: Assuming that Turkey decides to place this order, whoever wins it will instantly capture a huge share of the tablet market. If it turns out to be Apple, they will dominate the tablet marketplace in the same way that Microsoft used to dominate the computer marketplace. However, if it is Microsoft, they will instantly achieve near-parity with Apple! Something that it would otherwise take them years to achieve! My question is: “What might Microsoft be motivated to do to achieve such a result?”

In order to win, Microsoft is going to have to offer a tablet that beats the iPad on its own terms. Is it possible that Microsoft might finally bite the bullet and seriously undertake the overhaul of Windows’ and Office’s tablet features that we’ve all been begging for? Incorporate the Intel shell software that allows iPad-like responsiveness? Pair this with a properly-designed hardware platform that complements the new software features? In short, is it possible that this order might cause Microsoft to finally, seriously, design the tablet that they’ve always talked about? I think the possibilities here might be huge, but only time will tell.

What do you think..???

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