Asus seems to have leaked it’s pricing for its coming Windows 8 tablets and convertibles prompting some to leap to their word processors and get on the fear, uncertainty and doubt bandwagon.
We all know that pricing for tablets is an extremely sensitive subject, just yesterday we looked at Steve Ballmer’s interview to see what he had said about Surface pricing. Even though some sites announced there were new details surrounding pricing, we found it was the same message we already knew. Headlines such as “pricing comes in high, demand likely low” and “Windows 8 Tablets: Born to fail” seem wildly premature. We take a look as these leaked prices and what they could mean.
The Asus Vivo Tab RT is listed as starting at $599, and you will need to buy an additional Docking station for $199. The tablet is reportedly equipped with 2GB RAM and 32GB of Storage which is pretty standard for a ARM based Windows 8 tablet. This is designed to compete head on with the iPad, make no mistake. Is that price really too high to compete with the iPad? Actually, it’s exactly the same price as an iPad 32GB model, pretty much as we’d expect.
The only thing wrong with this pricing (for those that do not look deeper) is that of the keyboard/dock option that Asus can supply. This is not just a keyboard it is a docking station, said to provide a full QWERTY keyboard, track pad, two USB sockets and a second battery. Some might call foul of this pricing if they failed to realise what this dock will provide. Effectively this turns your slate into a fully featured laptop with most of ports you might need. We don’t know if the WinRT device will support Bluetooth, but if it does you’ll be able to grab a keyboard for far less than $199.
$599 seems a fair price but perhaps Asus will bundle a simple keyboard to sweeten the deal later. What we do know is that Windows 8 tablets are a very different value proposition to an iPad. Windows 8 certainly isn’t perfect but right out of the box it’s going to come with Office and play nice in the Microsoft eco-system, for those that didn’t get the memo, it’s the biggest one out there. That means being able to use existing peripherals and printers, connect to your home network with ease and work in a familiar way when in desktop mode.
How Asus determines its pricing for its Intel based devices is another story. It’s much more complex to gauge the demand for hybrid devices with detachable docks and convertible screens. It's likely that the costs for larger, higher resolution touch screen panels pushes the price of these laptop type devices way above what many would want to pay. Many of these convertible laptops look to be in line with current Windows 7 touch-screen tablet prices. Prices that may keep consumers away.
At present I own two tablets, my HP Touchpad running Android and my iPad2, neither of these devices fit my needs. I’m looking for a Microsoft tablet solution that fits nicely into my existing home network, to enable easy access my share folders, print to shared printers and use remote desktop to directly control my workstations. Having office built right in along with the familiar file manager (Windows Explorer) is a bonus, both of these experiences are designed for a keyboard and mouse and that’s also a plus. They are not dumbed down for touch operation and neither do I want them to be.
Shouting down Microsoft tablets based on pricing which is equivalent to a similar iPad is likely to be a common theme for those wishing to spread fear uncertainty and doubt (FUD). How well consumers perceive WinRT tablets is a total unknown at this point and simply pricing them lower than iPads isn’t the answer. That didn’t work out well for Android tablets. We still don’t know how Microsoft will position its Surface RT tablet in the market, it’s very likely going to come in at the same price point as a similar spec' iPad. In the coming months, we're likely to hear more bleating from Windows 8 naysayers and pundits on the price of these devices. We might even hear some compare Kindle Fire devices and Nexus 7 mini tablets to the coming Windows RT tablets. Don’t believe for one moment that Windows 8 should be compared to Android, it’s a fully featured operating system. The same can be said when comparing against the iPad.
For myself Windows 8 should provide the perfect package for content creation and consumption, it's very likely going to allow me to replace my Ultrabook and iPad. I'll have to confess that my WinRT tablet is unlikely to be from Asus. Much more likely to be a Microsoft Surface, for which I’d gladly pay $599.
We’d like to hear what you think about the pricing for WinRT tablets. Has Asus got it right? Any predictions on demand for these new devices? Let us know bellow in those comments.