I don’t follow the tech sector as closely as most business analysts in the Bay Area, but I do take note of obvious sea changes. Slackening PC sales are hurting Microsoft and its hardware partners. Microsoft (MSFT) shows no sign of learning the tablet market. The 10.6 inch screen on its Surface tablet is almost as big as a laptop screen. Mobile users don’t want to lug around something that big. The iPad display is 9.7 inches. Google has a 10 inch Nexus but its operating system isn’t as irritating as Windows 8. An inch or so matters, and so does usability.
I’m noticing that the prices of smartphones and tablets are declining to points that make them desirable for late adopters. You’d think the commodification of a new gizmo would work to Microsoft’s advantage, but they haven’t moved fast enough to win the operating system competition in this sector. This will not be a repeat of Microsoft’s desktop PC victory over Apple or its browser victory with Internet Explorer. HP reads the handwriting on the wall, but appears to be reading it backwards. It has combined the Chrome operating system with yesterday’s laptop hardware and yet the solution presents the worst of both worlds, according to VentureBeat.
Microsoft has yet to learn that its cherished suite of Office applications must move to the cloud. Outlook is already there, overlaid on what used to be Hotmail. I am nowhere close to buying a tablet or smartphone, but if the prices keep coming down I’ll have to reconsider. My impression is that Google-compatible devices have a much more expansive walled garden in Google’s cloud than what’s available from competing platforms.
Full disclosure: No positions in any companies mentioned at this time.