Microsoft unveiled its first own-brand tablet on Monday evening and beyond the simple truth that both devices are tablet computers, it seems like a stretch to state that the Surface is an iPad copy. Apple’s iPad sports smooth lines and the familiar iOS operating system while Microsoft’s new Surface tablet features sharp edges and the unique Metro UI atop Windows RT or Windows 8 Pro. Windows 8 and iOS are not exactly peas in a pod but according to one industry watcher, Microsoft’s debut tablet is nothing short of an iPad clone.
“Last night, Microsoft announced Surface, a ‘new family of PCs for Windows’ that are tablets with some of the functionality of a PC,” Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White wrote in a note to investors on Tuesday. “If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the compliments from Microsoft poured down like a torrential storm on Apple last night. At the same time, this event indicates to us that Microsoft is still searching for its own identify in the post-PC era, something that has come naturally for Apple with the rise of the mobile Internet.”
White believes the new Microsoft tablets will find a home in various niches within the enterprise market, but he doesn’t see the Surface as a potential mass-market player. “On the surface, we believe Microsoft’s tablet-related products may have a place in certain parts of the enterprise world that require Windows-based solutions; however, we found little in yesterday’s presentation that would convince us that a consumer would prefer Surface over an iPad.”
To even have a chance of competing with the iPad, White contends that Microsoft’s Surface will have to come in at a price point that offers a “healthy discount” compared to Apple’s tablets. Unfortunately for Microsoft, he doesn’t believe Microsoft has much hope of beating the iPad 2’s $399 price tag or even the new iPad’s $499 entry point. And to make matters worse for the Redmond-based company, White sees Apple launching an “iPad mini” as early as this coming September for between $250 and $300 that will provide “a more cost competitive product for Apple and [open] up a new market segment.”