There is no shortage of Surface competitors these days, as more and more manufacturers realize that there is huge potential for growth in the hybrid device market. Even Apple has entered this space, launching the iPad Pro last year to quickly establish itself as the sales leader. Can ASUS, with its new Transformer 3 devices which it just unveiled at Computex, have something to say in this market?
ASUS seems to understand what makes hybrid devices -- or ultraportables -- so appealing. The Transformer 3 Pro -- the top of the line model in the line -- features powerful hardware in a shell similar to a large tablet. It also has a keyboard, that is included in the box, and a screen big enough for every day use. On paper, it might be a better laptop replacement than Microsoft's Surface Pro 4.
The tablet market has seen better days. In the first quarter of 2016 shipments totaled just 39.6 million units, which represents a 14.7 percent decline year-over-year. However, while the market is shrinking there is a category of slates which is gaining more interest from consumers.
That category is made up of so-called detachable tablets. Microsoft basically created it with the original Surface and Surface Pro four years ago, but now it is Apple which is reaping the benefits of its rival's efforts with the iPad Pro line. In fact, this is the second straight quarter when iPad Pro obliterates the Surface line.
Windows 10 Mobile does not have much of a future. With two very disappointing quarters for Lumia sales, a market share of around one percent, poor vendor support, and no mention of it at Build 2016, this much is clear. You would expect Microsoft to pull the plug any minute now, but the software giant seems to be doing just the opposite.
In an internal email, Terry Myerson is encouraging "certain partners" to continue to pour their resources into the platform. Microsoft's EVP of Windows and Devices Group says that the company is still "committed" to Windows 10 Mobile, claiming that development of its "next generation products" is well underway. It sounds unbelievable, but that is just what you should expect Microsoft to say.
It is hard to take Windows 10 Mobile seriously when Microsoft announces sales of just 2.3 million Lumias in a whole quarter. If you ever thought that the platform can actually be competitive in today's market, now is the time to wake up. This year, smartphones sales are expected to reach 1.5 billion units. If Microsoft manages to move 10 million Lumias in 2016, Windows 10 Mobile's market share would likely be around the one percent mark.
Microsoft is not the only Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile vendor, but it is the largest by far. It sells about 90 percent of the smartphones running the tiled operating system, so its performance has a major impact on the platform's popularity.
The number of convertible tablets vying to take on Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 is on the increase. Some are more than reasonable competition while others are little more than cheap knock-offs. The absurdly low price of the Chuwi Hi12 might fool you into thinking that this 12-inch Chinese tablet falls into the latter camp, but you'd be wrong.
Costing an unbelievably low $289.99 (neatly below the promised $300 threshold), the Hi12 is not strictly a direct competitor to the Surface range... it lacks the all-important kickstand. So we're off to a great start with price, and the looks are certainly not to be sniffed at either; it's not a million miles away from iPad territory. But while looks and price are important, it's what's on the inside -- and how it works -- that matters, and the Hi12 does not disappoint.
Not too long ago, we were talking about tablets as PC replacements. Consumers were buying them in droves, losing interest in desktops and laptops. Apple's iPads ruled supreme, dominating this space from afar. Fast forward to today and we are talking about the slate as a has been, as it struggles to command the same levels of attention.
For Apple, which was used to posting record numbers every single quarter, it is an especially troublesome trend. The company started the tablet craze, after all, when it showcased the first iPad six years ago, and now sales figures are lower and lower as the quarters go by. However, the productivity-oriented iPad Pro appears to be bucking the trend -- could a smaller version do the same?
For a while, it seemed like everything Apple touched turned to gold. iPod, iPhone, iPad -- all changed the computing landscape. Unfortunately, the more recent products such as the Apple Watch and iPad Pro were viewed by many pundits to be weak. Heck, some have called the iPad Pro a failure.
But what if iPad Pro wasn't a failure? What if those pundits were wrong? Microsoft's Surface line has been viewed as a success -- part of the company's turnaround story. With that said, would you be surprised if I told you that the iPad Pro significantly beat the Surface during the holidays? Well, it is true. The perception of weak iPad Pro sales was exactly that -- perception only. The reality is, iPad Pro destroyed Surface in Q415.
The demise of the tablet seems inevitable, as shipments percentage dropped in double digits for the first time ever. Market intelligence provider TrendForce reported that in 2015 a total of 168.5 million units were shipped, representing a 12.2 percent drop year-over-year.
Notebook analyst for TrendForce, Anita Wang, confirmed what we all already knew -- smartphones, phablets and two-in-one devices were interfering too much with the tablet market, and with the devices having a somewhat longer lifespan, the results are a decrease in new shipments.
Brace yourselves: I'm about to stick up for Microsoft. While I'm happy to criticize the company for its failings (and maybe kick it when it's down from time to time), complaints that cropped up over the weekend seem completely unjustified. I'm talking about this weekend's NFL playoffs.
I'm far from being a football (or indeed sport of any description) fan, but my news timeline has been filled with headlines about how Microsoft suffered embarrassment when its Surface tablets (now famously used on the sidelines and mistakenly referred to as iPads) failed during the Broncos-Patriots game. Except the problems that led to an information blackout was absolutely not the fault of Microsoft, or its Surfaces.
Many people decry Samsung's design choices for copying Apple. As much as I love Samsung products -- the company makes great phones, washing machines, televisions and more -- I cannot defend against those claims. With that said, if you are going to borrow design philosophies from any company, Apple is a good choice.
Today, Samsung announces the Galaxy TabPro S -- a large tablet that is reminiscent of both Apple's iPad Pro and Microsoft's Surface line. The company had previously released the Galaxy Tab Pro, but that large tablet ran Android and was a dud with consumers. This time, the "S" variant runs full Windows 10, like the Surface, but with no kickstand and a keyboard a bit more like the iPad Pro in its connectivity. Obviously, the trackpad and key-type is more Microsoft than Apple. Regardless of design inspiration, it looks like a winner.
Chuwi might not be a name that you're particularly familiar with (or have even heard of at all), but the Chinese company has some interesting hardware on the way in 2016. Can’t decide between a Windows 10 tablet, or one running Android? Chuwi Hi12 offers the ability to boot between Windows 10 and Android.
With more than a hint of iPad aesthetics, the Hi12 blends the worlds of Microsoft's and Google's operating system to create a budget version of the Surface with an Android bolt-on. As this is a tablet running both Android and Windows, it's no surprise that there's a Cherry Trail processor on hand to keep things ticking over.
Microsoft is doing something about its smartphones business and according to the company’s CMO, it is something revolutionary, shocking, breathtaking.
I’m not being cynical here, I’m just reporting -- that’s the best part.
Even though it already has a smartphone line, rumors suggest that Microsoft wants to release a smartphone under the Surface brand. It may sound a bit far-fetched, but this might just be what Microsoft and Windows 10 Mobile really need to become a serious contender in the high-end smartphone market.
While Surface tablets are increasingly more appealing, following the introduction of Surface Pro 3, the Lumia line is proving to be increasingly less attractive in consumers' eyes, as proven by its tiny 1.7 percent market share. Moving an upcoming flagship product from a fading to an up and coming brand starts to make a whole lot of sense.
Microsoft has just released its Q1 FY2016 (Q3 CY2015) earnings report, posting revenue of $20.4 billion, operating income of $5.8 billion, net income of $4.6 billion and earnings per share of $0.57 (all GAAP figures). The software giant's numbers beat analysts' expectations, which has added around 10 percent to its stock price in after-hours trading. Here are the highlights of the software giant's quarter.
Microsoft has divided its earnings in three categories, namely Productivity and Business Processes, Intelligent Cloud, and More Personal Computing. The good news comes from Intelligent Cloud, where revenue is up by eight percent, while the bad news is in More Personal Computing, where the poor performance of Lumia and Surface devices lead to a 17 percent decrease in revenue, year-over-year.
Microsoft is keen to get its Surface tablets in the hands of business users. This is one of the reasons why it increased the number of Surface sales partners back in July. And in September it launched the Surface Enterprise Initiative allowing Dell and HP to resell the product.
Now following the launch of Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book earlier this month, the company is making renewed efforts to crack the business market with new service offerings.