The decision by Microsoft to tip millions of dollars into Australian retail heralds a new era for the PC industry, with several PC Companies set to struggle as they fight to claw sales away from brands such as Apple Microsoft, Samsung and Google who are now buying up retail floor space and launching slick in store marketing.
The success of Apple in JB Hi Fi stores was a benchmark for what can happen when Companies with bucket loads of marketing dollars execute a retail solution properly, the sales flow, the consumer is happen and the brand is perceived as being better than their competitors.
Now Microsoft is set to tip the tablet market on end as they fight to regain a foothold in a battle that has in the past between Apple iPads and Android tablets primarily sold by Samsung.
Microsoft has not done well selling their Surface tablets in Australia, earlier this year they handed out $50 to Harvey Norman and JB HI Fi retail staff who sold a Surface tablet and an additional $20 if they sold a Microsoft keyboard, the strategy worked and the product was very quickly on back order.
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Now the US Company is going for the jugular with new Australian store layouts that sit alongside similar layouts from Apple, Samsung and Google.
The big battle will kick off in October when Microsoft rolls out new Windows tablets running an upgraded Windows 8 OS.
Next month the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet goes on sale at key retailers, however long-time partners of Microsoft are not happy because while their products are displayed in the new Microsoft retail merchandisers they do not get the branding exposure that the Microsoft Surface will get.
Brands like HP Asus and Toshiba who have tipped little if any money into instore merchandising for their tablets have relied in the past on Co-Op handouts to retailers to sell their products, the odd press conference a catalogue here and there topped off with the occasional training session.
And while sales flowed they were not as impressive as those of Apple and Samsung who have carved up the tablet market to themselves with smart instore merchandising.
Now Microsoft is taking a blowtorch to these brands and retailers love it because they are not only coining bucket loads of cash for the rental of the floor space they are making money from the pitch battle that is breaking out between brands.
What Microsoft has done is handed retailers a huge opportunity to claw back PC share they have lost over the past three years.
The new Surface Pro 3 is an excellent product and in terms of raw computing power, it outperforms the Apple iPad Air and competes fiercely with conventional laptops from the likes of Toshiba, HP and Asus.
There is also talk that Microsoft is developing another Surface Pro tablet, slated for a 2014 year-end release at their core retail partner stores.
The weakness with the Microsoft product is battery life which is approximately 36% less than Apple’s 2014 MacBook Air, and about 44% less than an iPad Air.
SmartHouse understands that Microsoft is now looking to equip its next iteration of Surface Pro tablets with the power-efficient Broadwell chips from Intel in an effort remain competitive.
The Surface Pro line-up plays a vital role in Microsoft’s growth strategy. Currently available low-power ARM-based offerings aren’t powerful enough to compete with full-fledged Intel Core processors, and consumers are forced to use a separate laptop — or a computer — to execute CPU intensive tasks. The Surface Pro, however, bridges that gap and merges the functionality of both the devices.
Microsoft, therefore, appears to have a solid chance in disrupting the tablet market. If the Surface Pro line-up succeeds, the pick-up of Intel-powered Windows-based tablets will generate sizable software and licensing revenue for the software giant.
But to reach there, however, Microsoft must quickly gain retail sales with their new instore merchandising approach and fix their battery problems because with social media the world quickly goes around that the new Surface Pro 3 sucks battery juice.
Therefore it is highly probable that Microsoft will launch a power-efficient Surface Pro tablet by the end of this year — which should, in theory, generate incremental unit sales.
At the same time Apple and Samsung are getting ready to launch new models.
According to sources Apple recently recruited a secret-development “dream team” to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible.
But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad as well as their competitors.
So let the battle begin.