Steve Ballmer Suggests Microsoft Surface Won't Try To Beat Anyone On Price

We're well into tablet season with the release of the new Kindles and the almost-certain release of the iPad Mini next month. Microsoft's Surface is in the game too, although we know very little about it. In an interview with the Seattle Times, CEO Steve Ballmer was kind enough to mention the "sweet spot" for Surface pricing. Unfortunately, it's $US500-wide.

"Probably $US300 to about $US700 or $US800" in particular. It's a pretty big sweet spot, but some of Ballmer's other comments are telling. From the Seattle Times:

I think most people would tell you that the iPad is not a superexpensive device. ... (When) people offer cheaper, they do less. They look less good, they're chintzier, they're cheaper.

If you say to somebody, would you use one of the 7-inch tablets, would somebody ever use a Kindle (Kindle Fire, $US199) to do their homework? The answer is no; you never would. It's just not a good enough product. It doesn't mean you might not read a book on it....

His comments about the iPad's price and the Kindle's functionality seem to suggest that Surface might position itself as a more expensive but hyper-competent tablet in each tier. The Surface RT could be $US300-$US350 and tout itself as better than the Kindle Fires, the Nexus 7, and potentially the iPad Mini. Meanwhile, the Surface Pro could be as much as the iPad -- or even more expensive -- and use that price premium as a way frame itself as the better tablet. It doesn't look like Ballmer is concerned about beating the iPad on price.

Of course, we won't really know until the Surface launches on October 26, but it seems unlikely that those $US199 rumours are true, unless they come heavily subsidised by carriers. It looks like Microsoft wants to make real money on these things. [Seattle Times via The Verge]



    Ship it so we can pass judgement!

    I would expect the Surface RT to be iPad expensive and the Surface Pro to be more expensive still. I really can't see them being too interested in competing on price with their hardware partners so much as being standard-bearers for them, with a price premium to match. Surface will sell on its merits more than on price, I'm sure. If a Surface RT is the same price as an iPad, its keyboard cover will give it a clear advantage to many customers, I'm sure. And Windows 8 will offer a huge advantage that no-one else can match - the same OS across all your devices: your phone, your tablet, your laptop and your desktop. That has got to tempt a lot of customers, doesn't it?

      You are assuming that people think about these things, and are intelligent - and you would be wrong.

      why else do people have an Apple device?

        Because if they want an arm tablet that doesn't suck, Apple is currently the only option?

          Might I introduce you to the Nexus 7?

        Not really. I just remember seeing the crowds outside Harvey Norman for midnight launches of Windows 98 and I think plenty of those idiots are still just as loyal today.

          And Vista

    they look 'less good' - you couldn't articulate this any better? really?

    The whole Seattle Times interview is a good read. The vision he has prepared for Microsoft's future seems more likeable, and convincing, in print.

    Yes but iPad pricepoint was not set independantly.. it was set by the company that designed it and had it manufactured. Yes, there were other tablets around at the time but Apple market it so much better.. and they set the price point. Trying to justify the price-point of your device against an artificially/arbitrarily created price-point is just ridiculous.

    Had the iPad been priced independantly, then you could justify your own price based on that.

      I have no idea what it is you are trying to say here. I'm sure the price of every product is affected by the prices of other products. In the case of iPad, it would have been influenced by the price of netbooks, laptops, portable games consoles and mobile phones. That it is cheaper to buy than an iPhone really shows that the price is artificial because I cannot imagine it being cheaper to produce and ship, unless they have to pay some hefty royalties for some of the phone features.

    Oh well, there goes most of their sales down the drain.

    Microsoft is becoming more like Apple every day.

    I wish they would stop will all this speculation rubbish and just launch the damn thing. This is getting as annoying as the Apple rumour mill.

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