How Microsoft's Surface Go could buck the declining tablet trend
Tablet sales have been declining for years, but Microsoft's Surface Go may bring the right mix of portability, productivity, and leisure to meet current market needs.
Microsoft's 1999 foray into tablets with partner devices built to Microsoft Tablet PC specifications, and early efforts that followed, had little success. But when Apple introduced iOS-powered iPads in 2010, the iPhone-like tablets were a hit. Apple's category-defining slate tablets were swiftly joined by an army of Android tablets, some of which were also successes.
Microsoft's tablet-friendly OS, Windows 8, and its Surface Pro 2-in-1, didn't arrive until 2012. And two years after iPads and Android tablets conquered the market, affordable Windows slate tablets began joining the fray. Sadly, Windows 8's highly-criticized desktop and mobile duality drove Microsoft to sacrifice its mobile-friendly aspects to return to a familiar desktop-centric OS with Windows 10, which has a tablet mode that is far from optimal.
After their meteoric rise, slate tablets have been in perpetual decline. So why would Microsoft position Surface Go in a failing market category? The answer? It's not.
See Surface Go at Microsoft (opens in new tab)
Slate tablets vs. 2-in-1s
IDC provides data on market performance and gives predictions for device categories. As such, it assesses "slate-shaped tablets" and "detachables" as distinct tablet categories that are performing differently in the market. It is slate tablets, like iPads, that have been declining since 2014 and that IDC predicts will continue this trend.
IDC attributes this decline to users spending more time on their other slate-shaped devices, smartphones that are approaching mini-tablet dimensions. Modern six-inch-plus smartphones dwarf the 5.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note and 4.7-inch HTC Titan that made headlines for their "gargantuan" proportions in 2011.
Apple's 13.9-percent drop in iPad shipments capped 13 consecutive quarters of declining shipments as smartphones have gotten bigger and more powerful, according to IDC. Ironically, China-based Huawei's tablets grew 31-percent, which IDC attributes to the company's tablets' ability to plug into a "keyboard and mimic laptop-like functionality." This is consistent with IDC's findings that detachable tablets, or 2-in-1s, grew while slate tablets and traditional PCs fell.
This phenomenon may indicate consumer desire for devices that provide both laptop productivity and tablet portability and leisure options. Microsoft's positioning of Surface Go may reflect a realization of that reality.
Go Surface Go
Microsoft's Surface Go brings the productivity attributes, premiere build quality and context-conforming ideology of Surface Pro to a smaller more portable form factor. Microsoft is calling it the most mobile Surface yet. And though it's virtually a smaller Surface Pro, which Microsoft calls its most versatile laptop, this less powerful Surface's positioning, TypeCover and all, is more dubious.
Microsoft categorically calls it a "Surface" with the "performance of a laptop and portability of a tablet" without locking it into either category. This is likely deliberate so that individual usage will define the device, rather than Microsoft imposing a category and risk marginalizing potential users, particularly since it claims Surface Go is for everyone.
Microsoft's pushing of usage scenarios such as watching Netflix, listening to music, and web surfing (without keyboard) hammer home that Microsoft is targeting slate-tablet and leisure smartphone usage with Surface Go. Still, this device is also positioned as a productivity beast.
Surface portability, leisure and productivity
Microsoft recognizes leisure activities enjoyed on devices like iPads and large-screen smartphones are important to users. It also knows PC productivity is key to users getting things done. Furthermore, Surface Go, particularly the LTE version, is being pushed as a device that is always by a user's side and fits comfortably into a small bag. Fielding smartphone notifications through iOS and Android Windows 10 integration is an important part of this strategy.
The combination of leisure, extreme portability and productivity is arguably not something declining slate tablets like iPads do very well, though they excel as leisure devices. That's why many people who carry tablets also carry a laptop.
Though there are no guarantees, Surface Go's lightweight, thin design, productivity attributes, and iOS and Android integration may help Surface Go achieve that, "always by your side," position in users' daily lives, thus defying the declining tablet trend.
See Surface Go at Microsoft (opens in new tab)
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By Jez Corden
Store, played with a surface go
For about 30minutes. Its small, quick, light. Its cool, not a must have for me right now, i already have 2 surface pros, a surface book, etc, etc, so lets see how goes.
"The Surface Go is meant to be used primarily as a touch input device, and it doesn't do a good job of it" so you have bought one? Trolling.
Fact: Office is probs the biggest used suite on Windows but I can get that on Android and Apple plus other stuff.
It's a cool device the Go but that's it price is to high for the spec and has taken to long to come out.
Everyone was screaming at Microsoft to make a tablet something smaller then the Pros long after a 5th gen Pro is released it comes along.
The reason tablets are not selling is that everyone already has one, and the hype isn't enough to replace a working device.
For me, I already got an Acer Switch 3 a year ago while waiting for a new version of the Surface 3, so I won't be buying this one.
I don't care what the sheeple buy, a 10" tablet is a pain to carry around and hold with one hand while using a touch screen with the other hand. Maybe they should come with handles or a neck strap.
My stand is that yes, it can be seen as a 2-in-1, but I feel more important is that it is ground breaking for pen/ink. To my perception it has the right blend. Actually, my just turned 80 "mother in law" shows signs of wanting this device, as she feels her Lumia 1520 to be too small to show off photos and her 15" notebook not to be portable enough. So yes, we are thinking of checking screen and device size with her, using my Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. What do you think, that we don't want one ourselves? I bet we have one all 3 of us before years end, if it is not within 3 months. LTE is something to ponder about. Would tethering be good enough from our smartphones?
Now if Surface natively supported android apps than that would be something. I still think microsoft needed to make the go but it just is going to trail the others in term of quality.
- compared to Android it has a better & longer update policy.
- I find Windows 10 clearer to use as an OS, especially compared to iOS (where I am looking for things I should not have to look for or it just isn't there).
- good real browser choices (Firefox great for privacy, Edge better for touch etc) with lots of plugins.
- for those times that I do want to do some productivity work, Windows 10 is a lot better and 10 inch with a 3:2 or 4:3 ratio is usually enough screen space.
- I can play some of my Steam / GOG games on it which I already bought earlier on my laptop. I feel like pc games are often more unique and have more depth than compared to most tablet games.
So there are advantages and disadvantages.
Also keep in mind that the entry version has eMMC storage, which is slower than a SSD which is recommended to have for a smooth/fast Windows experience. So if you do buy it, buy the version with 128 gb or larger ssd.
I hope the device is successful, being recognised as tablet or laptop doesn't matter.
There's a reason why this is called a 2-in-1.
Back to the traditional PC style when the keyboard is re connected, but when the keyboard is not in use, go back to the beautiful seamless experience that was the touch UI of 8.1.
It beggars belief we have such a gimped touch experience on the beautiful Surface in 2018.
The Surface GO is a mild refresh of the Surface 3 with a new marketing message. Spec for spec the two are nearly identical.
I know because I owned a Surface 3 and sold it earlier this year.
I liked it very much but rarely used it because it lacked the power of a laptop, the tablet interface was too clunky with Win10 and battery life was average at best and Microsoft's app store was too bleak.
Also compared to the Surface 3 it is faster (especially the igpu, also wifi/network), much lower weight, non-entry version has an SSD which should make a lot of difference in speed in some cases, cheaper (note that are cheaper OEM pens, and there will probably also be cheap OEM keyboard cases for the Go just like there is for the Pro).
Win10 is not the best tablet OS, but it is not that bad when you scale it, turn tablet mode on, configure the start menu and possible install GestureSign for some much needed gestures. And there are some clear advantages with Win10, like many fully fledged browsers with plugins etc (even Edge has Adblock Plus and Ublock Origin now).
there are 2 types of Tablets out there. 1= General Tablets such as the Apple Ipads
and the Google Android Tablets from many OEM's. They have lots of Apps and can be
fun to use, 2= PC Tablets these are REAL PC's that are shaped like a Tablet they have
Less pure Tablet Apps but however can run Millions of Windows Desktop PC Programs.
they are Compatible with most Business and home Computer because they run
Windows software. for business Productivity they are the best to buy. One thing
Microsoft has to do is put the Windows 8, 8.1 Tablet jestures into Windows 10
Tablets when it is Tablet mode to make a better Tablet experience
From what I've seen, heard, felt, and experienced, this tablet is a marked improvement over the older Surface 3 in almost every aspect (performance, screen quality, design/build quality, Type Cover quality, Pen performance) and hits a price point that Windows 10 has been struggling to offer quality at since its induction 3 years ago.
The biggest mistake people are making is assuming this tablet is going to immediately reverse the declining tablet market and return slate tablets to favor in the eyes of the consumer. It is not. The Surface Go isn't going to revolutionize the market, and it isn't going to make people who want nothing to do with a tablet suddenly see the light and invest in a tablet. However, the Surface Go offers portability, productivity, quality, and now *performance* at a price bracket in a package never achieved before. Here is a tablet 98% of people could pick up and use for all their daily needs quite comfortably. No, it isn't as good of a slate tablet as the iPad 9.7, and it's not as good at being a laptop as the Surface Book. But the iPad can't run legacy programs, has a restricted typing experience, and is, quite simply, a tablet through and through. Yes, you *can* use the iPad for your daily work needs, but at its best it won't be as good as a dedicated laptop...or a tablet with a kickstand and keyboard like the Surface Go. Yes, the Book or another traditional laptop can do more and do it faster than the Go or iPad, and still offer a touch experience. But a large size means it will never be as good of a tablet as the iPad or Surface Go, and will never offer the same lever of portability or ease of use. So why is this so hard for some to grasp? They believe because they have no place in their own workflow for a hyper-portable tablet running Windows 10, that no one else can. That just because iOS is better at being a tablet, and has more tablet-centric applications, that no one will ever look at the Go. But the Go does exactly what the Surface Pro and iPad Pro have been trying to do for years: a single device that can do both with minimal compromises. For many people though, the Pro devices were simply too big to reliably be used as a tablet all the time. The Go fixes that. No, this isn't a device for everyone. But what is? There's no singular product out there that is the perfect solution for every individual. The Surface 3 was the best selling Surface of its generation for a good reason, and there is zero reason to believe that a Surface that is better in every conceivable way while also coming it at a lower price point would be any different. I have a Pro 4, so this device isn't necessary for me personally. But you better believe if I ever get the change to treat myself, this will be my next choice.