If MS knows they picked a loser, why did they do it?
JoshB and I have been discussing this and we have a little conspiracy theory:
Only a company as large and profitable as Microsoft could pull off a public alpha test that is larger than most mid-sized companies in the midst of a recession.
This decision is consistent with Microsoft’s history of doing Ready, Fire, Aim product planning…and it’s a great strategy…if you can afford it. You get to be a first mover, you pick up IP, and you do your heavy development based on real market data.
For ~$50,000,000 they learned how, why and if customers might buy into multitouch. While this seems like a lot of money, 1/10% of earnings is pennies to test a bet the farm idea.
Few companies consistently make .27 cents on the dollar…and the ones that do are decidedly not dumb.
Microsoft Gets a Lot More Out of Surface Than Market Validation- Greater institutional knowledge of closed-system hardware/software platforms
- Preparation for a consumer version of Surface
- A great reference platform
- A gesture library
- Exposing preferred vendors to Multitouch
- A shitlot of IP
- A great foundation for the Win7 Multitouch SDK
What most people don't realize is that Microsoft Surface is just a prototype. The real Surface will be what hardware manufactures create to run Windows 7. If they pull it off, it will be one of the largest market research programs ever attempted.
If Microsoft pulls this off, it will be one of the largest alpha programs ever attempted. It’s the scale of the experiment that has confused the market.
What company besides Microsoft could afford to build a business unit just to float an idea?
Thanks to Josh for your collaboration in writing this post! Check out his blog at: nui.joshland.org It's only slightly less interesting than mine :~P