The Nexus 10, Lollipop, and the problem with big Android tablets

I’ve never been tempted to buy a large widescreen tablet. They’re good at certain things, but they’re too wide for everything onscreen to be reachable if you’re holding it with both hands. They’re too tall for portrait mode to be comfortable for long stretches. One-handed use is generally tolerable at best. Smaller widescreen tablets like the Nexus 7 are nice because they’re closer in size and heft to books, but 10-inch-and-up widescreen tablets have always been too gawky for my taste.

Which brings us to Google and Samsung’s Nexus 10. This tablet replaced the underwhelming Motorola Xoom in late 2012, and it was the Android ecosystem’s first answer to the high-density Retina display Apple had added to the iPad earlier that year. Its hardware was perfectly good then and it remains solid now—it has aged much better than the old Nexus 7—but hardware was never the Nexus 10’s problem.

The problem two years ago was that the Android ecosystem was light on good tablet apps. There wasn’t a ton to do with that big screen, which meant there wasn’t much incentive to choose the Nexus 10 over an iPad or a smaller Android tablet. In examining Lollipop on the Nexus 10, our biggest questions are about the ways the redesigned OS and apps make use of that extra space.

Performance: Nothing to see here

The Nexus 10’s hardware has aged much better than the 2012 Nexus 7’s. Samsung usually uses top-end flash memory in its devices, so the tablet doesn’t suffer from the smaller tablet’s NAND-related problems. It was also one of the first tablets to ship with an Exynos 5 SoC, which used a pretty fast dual-core Cortex A15-based CPU and a GPU that sits somewhere between the iPad 3 and iPad 4 in performance.

Our look at the old Nexus 7 showed that most apps don’t slow down significantly in the jump from KitKat to Lollipop and the Nexus 10 still glides along pretty smoothly most of the time. You’ll run into hitches occasionally, places where animations will stutter momentarily or an app will take an extra beat to respond to input, but it’s not the chronic problem that it is on the old Nexus 7. This is behavior that was present in KitKat, too, so we wouldn’t blame the software—we’re inclined to attribute it to the GPU, which is OK-not-great at driving a 2560×1600 display panel.

There’s no need to compare app launch times in Lollipop and KitKat on this tablet—just know that performance isn’t a problem here. If you’re happy with how your Nexus 10 is doing with KitKat, you’ll be equally happy with it after updating to Lollipop. As in our 2012 Nexus 7, our battery life tests showed Android 4.4 and 5.0 getting roughly equal amounts of runtime, though Project Volta may still end up getting you a little extra battery life in actual everyday use.

Read more: The Nexus 10, Lollipop, and the problem with big Android tablets | Ars Technica.

Android snagged 62 percent of tablet market in 2013

Android and Samsung Electronics were the big winners in the tablet market last year, as sales grew by 68 percent, according to market research company Gartner.

Worldwide sales of tablets to end users totalled 195.4 million units, fuelled by sales of low-end, smaller screen devices, and purchases by first time buyers, the company said Monday.

Android has become the biggest tablet operating system with 62 per cent of the market. In 2012, Google’s OS trailed Apple’s iOS by a margin of about 8 million tablets, but by the end of last year had turned that into a 50 million-unit lead.

The Android camp led by Samsung sold almost 121 million tablets, for a 61.9 percent share, compared to 53.3 million units and a 45.8 percent share in 2012. Apple’s tablet sales increased from 61.5 to 70.4 million units, but because the overall market grew faster, the company’s share dropped from 52.8 percent to 36 percent.

“Apple’s strong fourth quarter helped it maintain the top position among the manufacturers.”

Microsoft’s Windows tablet sales improved but the share remained small at 2.1 percent, with shipments growing from 1.2 million to 4 million units. To compete, Microsoft needs to create a more compelling ecosystem for consumers as well as developers across all mobile devices, Gartner said.

Apple’s strong fourth quarter helped it maintain the top position among the manufacturers. Samsung, ranked in second place, had the biggest growth of the worldwide tablet vendors, at 336 per cent. The expansion and improvement of its Galaxy tablet portfolio, together with a lot of marketing, helped Samsung shrink the gap with Apple.

Samsung sold 37.4 million tablets for a 19.1 percent slice of the market.

The rest of the top 5 was made up of Asus, Amazon.com and Lenovo. Of those three companies, Lenovo did particularly well with tablet sales growing by 198 per cent to 6.5 million units, or a 3.3 percent market share. The company’s success was due to a combination of new tablet models launched during the second half of last year, and sales of its Yoga model and its Windows tablets doing particularly well, Gartner said.

However, Lenovo is still behind Asus, with 11 million units sold, and Amazon, with 9.4 million. Asus’ market share grew from 5.4 percent to 5.6 percent, while Amazon’s share declined from 6.6 percent to 4.8 percent.

As the tablet market becomes even more competitive, this year it will be critical for vendors to improve user experience, technology and ecosystem value beyond just hardware and cost, Gartner said.

via Android snagged 62 percent of tablet market in 2013 | PCWorld.

Top Android tablets (February 2014 edition)

Introduction

Tablets are everywhere, and while Apple’s iPad – along with its little brother, the iPad mini – commands the most media attention, there’s no shortage of excellent Android alternatives to choose from.

Here are my top nine Android tablets for February 20142014 – and this month we have a couple of new entries.

All of the tablets features here are very capable, powerful workhorses, and are ideal not only for home users, but also for enterprise users or those looking for a BYOD tablet. Any one of these will give you an excellent Android experience, and, when combined with the right apps, will allow you to get a lot of work done when you\’re away from your desk.

Full Story: Top Android tablets (February 2014 edition) | ZDNet.

Tablet buyers aren't ditching their laptops, studies show

Many new tablets, including the new Kindle Fire HDX, are marketed as ways to create documents and other content for work-related tasks, instead of purely for home consumption of video and games.
Even with the focus on workplace productivity, a new survey shows that only 8.7 percent of tablet buyers want to use the tablet as a replacement for their laptops. The same survey by IDC found that 58.5 percent of respondents bought a tablet to use in addition to a laptop, and not as a replacement.
The online survey was conducted in April and included 299 U.S. consumers. All of them were 18 or older.
Generational differences
The results might have been different if the survey included younger tablet users, ages 17 and under, since that group has grown up with tablets since the first iPad went on sale in 2010, said Tom Mainelli, an IDC analyst and author of a report on the survey.
“The younger generation has different sentiments about phones and tablets and how useful they are,” Mainelli said in an interview.
Still, he said the finding that only 8.7 percent found a tablet as a replacement for a laptop was a surprise. “When we ask that question again in a year, I’d expect you will see a growing percentage view a tablet at least as possibly replacing a laptop,” Mainelli said.
“A huge percentage of people still see a lot of value in a laptop for one kind of app or service they use on it,” he added. \”Would they want to do their taxes on a tablet? They haven\’t quite made the leap to being comfortable with a mobile device like a tablet.”
“But that [expanded tablet] usage is coming, and we see more people doing more things on tablets,” Mainelli added. \”Professionals still rely on laptops and a lot of them are just not really even thinking about the possibilities that the tablet offers and instead are concerned that a tablet doesn\’t run Flash or can only open one app at a time.”
Mainelli said it\’s notable that Amazon announced two new Kindle Fire HDX tablets last week with an emphasis on business-class features such as a native VPN client and hardware and software encryption.
“Amazon is getting much more serious about making its tablets enterprise-ready,” he said. The same can be said for iPads and many Android devices.
Mobile OS trends
IDC has predicted 190 million tablets will be shipped to retailers in 2013, of which about half run on the Android mobile operating system and half on iOS, with fractional amounts running Windows. Amazon runs on a custom version of Android and has dubbed its latest OS the Fire OS 3.0 Mojito.
In the IDC survey, 35 percent said they own an iOS tablet; 26.4 percent said they owned a tablet running standard Android; 10 percent said they owned a custom Android tablet like a Kindle Fire; 9.4 percent said they owned a Windows tablet and 0.7 percent owned a Windows RT tablet. More than 14 percent said they didn\’t know the OS on their tablet.

The survey also asked tablet owners if they had a chance to buy a tablet again, would they buy one with the same OS. The iOS system owners were most likely to say yes (80.2 percent), followed closely by Windows tablet owners (78.9 percent); owners of standard Android systems were third (70 percent), and owners of custom Android devices were 68 percent.
Mainelli said the lower values for owners who would buy both kinds of Android again are likely a reflection of the many varieties of Android tablets on the market, some priced as low as $79 for a white box version and others from various vendors priced close to the iPad with Retina display at $499. Google’s Nexus 10 16 GB tablet running pure Android sells for $399.
“People who own the higher-end Androids probably have a similar affinity for them as do iOS owners,” he said. But Mainelli said he was somewhat surprised by the high affinity for Windows. “Those owning Windows have a strong inclination to buy one again, right below Apple,” he noted.
via Tablet buyers aren’t ditching their laptops, studies show | PCWorld.

With new Venue tablets, Dell signals its PC division is alive and kicking

Dell sent a message that it intends to keep its PC division alive with the launch of new Venue tablets on Wednesday.
The company launched two Venue tablets with Android, and two with Microsoft’s latest Windows 8.1 OS. The tablets will come with screen sizes ranging from 7 inches to 11 inches.
All the tablets will be available in November.
The Android tablets from Dell include the Dell Venue 7, which will have a 7-inch screen, and the Venue 8, which will have an 8-inch screen. The Venue 7 will be priced at $149, and the Venue 8 will be priced at $179.
The Venue 7 and 8 run on older Intel Atom processors that were announced last year, and not the latest Atom processors code-named Bay Trail. Both tablets have screen resolutions of 1280 x 800 pixels, Micro-SD slots and Wi-Fi.

The new Windows 8.1 tablets include the Venue 8 Pro, which will have an 8-inch screen, and the Venue 11 Pro, which has a 10.8 inch screen. The latter can be a tablet, or laptop with attachable keyboard or docking station. The tablets will run on Intel’s latest processors. The Venue 8 Pro starts at $299, and the Venue 11 Pro starts at $499.
The Venue 8 Pro has a Bay Trail processor and up to 64GB of storage. It has a 1.2-megapixel front camera and a 5-megapixel back camera. It weighs 388 grams.
The Venue 10 Pro has a range of processor options ranging from Bay Trail to the latest Haswell processors. The device weighs 726 grams. It has up to 256GB of storage, NFC capabilities and a 2-megapixel front camera and an 8-megapixel back camera.
Other features on Dell’s new Venue Pro tablets with Windows 8.1 include Micro-SD card readers and LTE mobile broadband connectivity.
Dell’s new tablet lineup did not include a device with Microsoft’s Windows RT OS. Dell’s last XPS 10 tablet with Windows RT was discontinued last week.
The company does not plan to refresh its line of Windows RT tablets, said Neil Hand, vice president at Dell, during a launch event in New York.
Dell’s new tablets also revive the Venue brand name, which the PC maker abandoned when it discontinued its shipment of smartphones early last year. Dell earlier launched Venue smartphones running Windows Phone and Android in 2011.
The new tablets also indicate that Dell is retaining its PC division. Michael Dell reassured customers that the company would retain its PC division after shareholders last month approved a deal in which the CEO and associate Silver Lake Partners would take the company private for $24.9 billion. It had been speculated that the poorly performing division might be axed after the company goes private.
A billion people will be using a tablet by 2017 and it remains an important category for Dell, Hand said.
“We are dedicated to growing a tablet business in the company,” Hand said.
During a video to start the presentation, the company invoked its reputation as a PC innovator.
“It’s a very exciting time for us at Dell,” said Sam Burd, vice president of personal computer group, during the event.
The company also launched three XPS laptops with Intel’s latest fourth-generation Core processors code-named Haswell. The XPS 11 is a Windows 8 laptop that converts into a tablet. It has a 2560×1440 resolution screen.
The other XPS laptops include the XPS 13, which has a 13-inch screen, and the XPS 15, which has a 3200×1800 display.
via With new Venue tablets, Dell signals its PC division is alive and kicking | PCWorld.

Microsoft Surface revenue awful on paper and in the pocketbook

Microsoft revealed Tuesday that its actual revenue for the Surface tablet for the 2013 fiscal year was $863 million, less than the $900 million charged against its profits for discounting the Surface tablet.
Technically, that means that the amount that Microsoft discounted the Surface by was more than its actual revenue for the product. The 8-K document that Microsoft filed with the SEC also reveals that Microsoft spent $898 million more in advertising for Surface and Windows 8 than it did in its previous fiscal year, when sales of the Windows division were $18.4 billion. (In 2011, Windows sales totaled $19.1 billion, when Microsoft was riding high on Windows 7.)
A writedown means that the company reports a change in the so-called “book value” of a particular piece of inventory, a tacit acknowledgement that the market value of a particular good ha decreased. One way of looking at it might be to say that a loaf of bread might be worth $5 the day it was baked, but only $3 a day later. The hope is that writing down or discounting the item in question will prompt sales, as customers perceive the item to be more in line with what they would expect to pay.
To give it an air of freshness, Microsoft cut the price of the Surface tablet by 30 percent, which apparently prompted buyers to buy up the available supply at Walmart.com. But while the site still reports the Surface RT with 32 GB of memory as out of stock, local stores reported having them on their shelves, indicating that Walmart may not be as selling as many as first thought.
It’s actually hard to say how many Surface tablets Microsoft sold, given that prices varied widely between the Surface RT and Surface Pro, both before and after the discounts. However, they certainly haven’t met expectations.
Microsoft’s biggest enemies
Geekwire and GigaOM, which reported the 8K disclosures on Tuesday, also noted that Windows chief Steven Sinofsky negotiated a $14 million exit package which prevents him from working at Microsoft’s competitors, including Amazon, Apple, EMC, Facebook, Google, Oracle, and VMWare, until December 31, 2013.
After leaving Microsoft last October, Sinofsky now teaches at Harvard, where he’s forbidden from disclosing secret information about the company. Instead, Sinofsky’s blog has focused on the business processes that the company has used, including his take on Microsoft’s reorganization by function, rather than by product or division. As such, he’s been somewhat removed from Microsoft’s day-to-day struggles, such as the Surface, which he once rode as a skateboard to demonstrate the toughness of its its VaporMg chassis. Now, after Microsoft’s reorganization, the Surface is in the hands of Jule Larson-Green, the new head of the Devices and Studios Engineering Group.
Whether it’s Sinofsky or Larson-Green running the show, one thing is clear: Surface may not spoil like bread or fruit, but it’s apparently gone stale nevertheless.
via Microsoft Surface revenue awful on paper and in the pocketbook | PCWorld.

Why small screens won't cure Microsoft's Windows tablet blues

My, how quickly the tables can turn in the fickle world of consumer technology.
When Microsoft’s designers and engineers took to the drawing board to dream up Windows 8, the 9.7-inch iPad was the 800-pound gorilla of the tablet market, gobbling an insane amount of market share and laughing at Android’s attempts to break Apple’s stranglehold on slates. The future, it seemed, lay in big screens.
Then the Kindle Fire, the Nook tablet, and Google’s Nexus 7 appeared. Consumers fell in love with smaller, cheaper tablets overnight, and on October 23, 2012, Apple capitulated to popular demand and released an iPad mini of its own.
Three days later, Microsoft released Windows 8 to the public. With a design optimized for 10-inch-plus displays, it was already behind the times.
“”Although Office is a nice thing to have, it is not enough of a differentiator.””
Now, with Windows tablets struggling to catch consumers’ attention, Microsoft is shifting gears. The company has already paved the way for smaller Windows tablets, and Windows co-chief Tami Reller promises that the impending Windows Blue update will pack even better support for 7- and 8-inch slates. Asus and Acer have hopped aboard the diminutive display bandwagon, where other manufacturers are bound to join them.
Prepare for the deluge!
But before the floodgates open, I have to ask: Are small screens really the cure for Microsoft’s Windows tablet woes? Ehhhh…
Small screens, small price tag
Before we discuss anything else, we have to talk about price. Android is freely available to manufacturers (though many OEMs pay “don’t sue me” royalties to Microsoft). On the other hand, Microsoft makes a big chunk of its money by selling Windows, and that includes selling Windows to manufacturers. Basically, Windows tablets will always cost more than a similarly spec’ed Android tablet.

Windows tablet enemy, thy name is Nexus.
That alone could be a killer for small-screen Windows tablets. Paying $380 for an 8-inch Windows tablet (the price of the leaked Acer Iconia W3) seems crazy when you can pick up a Nexus 7 for $200.
Microsoft may be willing to compromise on this issue, however. Several recent reports have claimed that Microsoft is offering manufacturers steep discounts on Windows licenses destined for use on touchscreen devices with screen sizes under 10.8 inches. Pricing for those specialized devices is said to be as low as $30 per license.
Full Story: Why small screens won’t cure Microsoft’s Windows tablet blues | PCWorld.

Exploring Ubuntu Touch, the other Linux OS for your phone

The chances are good that if you’re buying a smartphone or tablet in 2013, you’re buying something with iOS or Android on it. The two operating systems loom so large over their competitors that even the entrenched, deep-pocketed Microsoft has had trouble making headway into this market with its Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Windows RT systems.
Google and Apple’s combined dominance hasn’t stopped others from trying, though. New mobile operating systems have been springing up like weeds in the last six months. RIM (now BlackBerry) finally launched the long-awaited BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry Z10 in an attempt to overhaul its image. Mozilla is making Firefox OS in an effort to tackle developing markets and prove that a browser is all you really need. And Canonical wants to take Ubuntu beyond the desktop with Ubuntu Touch.
We got a not-quite-hands-on test drive of a 12.10-based version of Ubuntu’s mobile operating system back at CES, but the OS images were recently updated to Ubuntu 13.04 when Raring Ringtail was introduced at the end of last month. Though Ubuntu Touch won’t be available at retail before the end of this year at the earliest, we figured now is an opportune time to check in and see how things are going.
It can’t be stressed enough that even in this updated form, Ubuntu Touch is nowhere near usable as a mainstream mobile operating system. Canonical makes no claim that it is. For now, the software is about half development environment and half proof-of-concept tech demo. As such, we aren’t going to be evaluating Ubuntu Touch using quite the same criteria we’d use for a shipping product—we’re going to be focusing more on how the OS looks and works and less on how it performs. As we get closer to Ubuntu 14.04 and presumably Ubuntu Touch’s retail availability, we’ll certainly be revisiting it with a more critical eye.
Smell you later, Android: Installing Ubuntu Touch

Full Story: Exploring Ubuntu Touch, the other Linux OS for your phone | Ars Technica.

How today’s touchscreen tech put the world at our fingertips

Welcome back to our three-part series on touchscreen technology. Last time, Florence Ion walked you through the technology’s past, from the invention of the first touchscreens in the 1960s all the way up through the mid-2000s. During this period, different versions of the technology appeared in everything from PCs to early cell phones to personal digital assistants like Apple’s Newton and the Palm Pilot. But all of these gadgets proved to be little more than a tease, a prelude to the main event. In this second part in our series, we’ll be talking about touchscreens in the here-and-now.
When you think about touchscreens today, you probably think about smartphones and tablets, and for good reason. The 2007 introduction of the iPhone kicked off a transformation that turned a couple of niche products—smartphones and tablets—into billion-dollar industries. The current fierce competition from software like Android and Windows Phone (as well as hardware makers like Samsung and a host of others) means that new products are being introduced at a frantic pace.
The screens themselves are just one of the driving forces that makes these devices possible (and successful). Ever-smaller, ever-faster chips allow a phone to do things only a heavy-duty desktop could do just a decade or so ago, something we’ve discussed in detail elsewhere. The software that powers these devices is more important, though. Where older tablets and PDAs required a stylus or interaction with a cramped physical keyboard or trackball to use, mobile software has adapted to be better suited to humans’ native pointing device—the larger, clumsier, but much more convenient finger.

The foundation: capacitive multitouch

Enlarge / Many layers come together to form a delicious touchscreen sandwich.

Most successful touch devices in the last five or so years have had one thing in common: a capacitive touchscreen capable of detecting multiple inputs at once. In this way, interacting with a brand-new phone like Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 is the same as interacting with the original 2007-model iPhone. The list of differences between the two is otherwise about as long as your arm, but the two are built upon that same foundation.
We discussed some early capacitive touchscreens in our last piece, but the modern capacitive touchscreen as used in your phone or tablet is a bit different in its construction. It is composed of several layers: on the top, you’ve got a layer of plastic or glass meant to cover up the rest of the assembly. This layer is normally made out of something thin and scratch-resistant, like Corning’s Gorilla Glass, to help your phone survive a ride in your pocket with your keys and come out unscathed. Underneath this is a capacitive layer that conducts a very small amount of electricity, which is layered on top of another, thinner layer of glass. Underneath all of this is the LCD panel itself. When your finger, a natural electrical conductor, touches the screen, it interferes with the capacitive layer’s electrical field. That data is passed to a controller chip that registers the location (and, often, pressure) of the touch and tells the operating system to respond accordingly.
This arrangement by itself can only accurately detect one touch point at a time—try to touch the screen in two different locations and the controller will interpret the location of the touch incorrectly or not at all. To register multiple distinct touch points, the capacitive layer needs to include two separate layers—one using “transmitter” electrodes and one using “receiver” electrodes. These lines of electrodes run perpendicular to each other and form a grid over the device’s screen. When your finger touches the screen, it interferes with the electric signal between the transmitter and receiver electrodes.

When your finger, a conductor of electricity, touches the screen, it interferes with the electric field that the transmitter electrodes are sending to the receiver electrodes, which registers to the device as a “touch.”

Because of the grid arrangement, the controller can accurately place more than one touch input at once—most phones and tablets today support between two and ten simultaneous points of contact at a time. The multitouch surfaces of the screens allow for more complex gestures like pinching to zoom or rotating an image. Navigating through a mobile operating system is something we take for granted now, but it isn’t possible without the screen’s ability to recognize multiple simultaneous touches.
These basic building blocks are still at the foundation of smartphones, tablets, and touch-enabled PCs now, but the technology has evolved and improved steadily since the first modern smartphones were introduced. Special screen coatings, sometimes called “oleophobic” (or, literally, afraid of oil), have been added to the top glass layer to help screens resist fingerprints and smudges. These even make the smudges that do blight your screen a bit easier to wipe off. Corning has released two new updates to its original Gorilla Glass concept that have made the glass layer thinner while increasing its scratch-resistance. Finally, “in-cell” technology has embedded the capacitive touch layer in the LCD itself, further reducing the overall thickness and complexity of the screens.

Using the coordinates from this grid of electrodes, the device can accurately detect the location of multiple touches at once.

None of these changes have been as fundamentally important as the original multipoint capacitive touchscreen, but they’ve enabled thinner, lighter phones with more room for batteries and other internal components.
Full Story: Ars Technica

128GB Surface Pro sells out: High demand, short supply, or both?

Almost as soon as it went on sale on Saturday morning, the $999 128GB versions of Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet sold out. Whether buying online from Microsoft or from the Microsoft, Best Buy, Staples, or Future Stops bricks-and-mortar stores, the devices are unavailable, with no estimated availability. You can’t even put your name down for a pre-order.
Sign of a successful launch? That’s harder to say. Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet reports that some stores received just a single device to sell. With stock that thin on the ground, even idle curiosity would likely cause the Surface Pro to sell out. Other stores certainly had more stock: one Ars reader reports the Westfield San Francisco Centre Microsoft Store had dozens of 128GB units, with one person buying 23 of the machines in a single transaction. So Microsoft has certainly sold a bunch of the 128GB Surface Pros—but whether that represents thousands, tens of thousands, or even more, we don’t know.
We do know that 64GB Surface Pros, however, still seem to be relatively abundant, with stores still having stock and Microsoft’s online store still taking orders.
We also don’t know is whether this means that supplies of the 128GB unit are healthier, or that demand for the cheaper unit is lower. One would suspect early demand is tilted in favor of the more expensive device. 64GB just isn’t that much space on a new machine bought in 2013, especially for technically minded early adopters. Add to this the concern about the amount of disk space actually available on the 64GB Surface Pro and it’s plausible it’s simply not that popular.
We also don’t know why the 128GB units are so hard to come by. It’s possible Microsoft has been taken by surprise and is facing higher than expected demand; it’s also possible that its supply chain, which is still pretty new, simply couldn’t produce enough units to cope with even modest demand.
One thing, however, is clear: would-be buyers aren’t happy about it. The comments on Microsoft’s official Surface blog about the lack of availability are increasingly hostile. Commenters note the same low stock levels, with some claiming their local stores received not a single device. In the commenters’ views, Microsoft’s handling of the launch is nothing short of incompetent.
Even if the company has been caught off-guard by demand substantially higher than anticipated, there should at least be the ability to register interest and get in line. People could then know when new hardware does roll off the production line and buy systems on a first come, first served basis.
With Microsoft not taking pre-orders or giving any indication of when the systems will be back in stock, prospective buyers are already looking elsewhere. While nothing else on the market offers quite the same design approach or features of the Surface Pro, if you’re willing to accept slightly different form factors, there are viable alternatives from Samsung (the Ativ Smart PC Pro), Lenovo (the Yoga), or even Apple (MacBook Air). Microsoft can’t afford to leave potential customers hanging for too long or there’s a good chance they’ll go for one of these competing systems.
While the Surface Pro launch is proving frustrating to those interested in the product, there are, for Microsoft, worse outcomes. A glut of Surface Pros sitting unloved and unwanted on store shelves and warehouses would have been even worse than a shortage. Retailers may be frustrated at the lack of stock, but not as frustrated as they’d be with stock they’d have to give away at a knock-down price (as happened not so long ago with the HP TouchPad).
Microsoft could, and should, be doing more to keep potential buyers engaged, and the criticism on this point is well-deserved. But if the company opted to play it safe and go for a more conservative launch rather than flooding the market, that’s an understandable—and arguably even sensible—decision.
via 128GB Surface Pro sells out: High demand, short supply, or both? | Ars Technica.