It’s an interesting and counter-intuitive strategy. Reference a popular product that your company simply can’t compete with and question the staying power of said product. It’s an easy strategy, no doubt, and is a heck of a lot easier than actually delivering a compelling product yourself.
And that’s apparently the mindset over in Redmond these days.
During a recent talk in Australia, Microsoft global chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie (who reports directly to Steve Ballmer) said that he isn’t so sure the tablet category is here to stay, specifically wondering if gadgets like the iPad will “remain with us or not.”
I think there’s an important distinction – and frankly one we didn’t jump on at Microsoft fast enough – between mobile and portable. Mobile is something that you want to use while you’re moving, and portable is something that you move and then use.
These are going to bump into one another a little bit and so today you can see tablets and pads and other things that are starting to live in the space in between. Personally I don’t know whether that space will be a persistent one or not.
With Apple selling iPads by the millions, and competitors frantically trying to keep up, the one company without a clear cut tablet solution is Microsoft. And for all of the jokes made at RIMs expense, at least they have a living and breathing, albeit muddled, tablet strategy to speak of . Microsoft, on the other hand, was caught with its head on the sand with the iPhone andthe iPad and only recently was able to come up with a competing product for the former with Windows Phone 7. So when Mundie doesn’t anticipate tablets carrying any staying power, it’s essentially a euphemism for him hoping that tablets don’t wield any staying power.
And as you might expect, Mundie doesn’t envision tablet devices taking the torch from desktops and notebooks, but rather “the room.”
“I believe the successor to the desktop is the room,” said Mundie, “that instead of thinking that the computer is just something on the desk that you go and sit in front of, [in the] future basically the whole room is the computer and you go in it.”
Mundie is naturally talking about Kinect, the motion detecting add-on for the Xbox 360 which, we can’t lie, has been selling like hotcakes and was recently crowned as the fastest selling consumer electronic device in history.
Still, any rational person would put their money on tablets than Microsoft Kinect.