Can Microsoft Claim 15% of the Tablet Market?

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The Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Windows 8 tablet that was given out at the company's BUILD developers' conference is legitimately impressive.

Now an RBC Capital Markets analyst, Robert Breza, is predicting that Microsoft will claim a 15% share of the tablet market by 2014. That's quite a goal, especially when considering that Windows 8 tablets won't be reaching users' hands and fingers until around late 2012, leaving effectively only two years to make a big dent in the market that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) created and currently owns, for all intents and purposes.

According to figures released yesterday from market-research firm IDC, the iPad 2 took the Lion's share -- pun intended -- of tablet sales last quarter at 68.3%, up sequentially from 65.7%. Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) PlayBook grabbed 4.9%, while Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android slipped from 34% to 26.8%. Interestingly, Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ  ) fire sale-priced TouchPad buying spree is predicted to earn webOS a 4.7% share in the third quarter before dropping to 0% by 2012 in the absence of any direction for that platform.

A little speculation never hurt anyone; let's allow our imaginations to wander a bit. IDC has raised its forecast to 62.5 million shipments for all of 2011 because of strong demand. Total shipments are a constantly moving target. In May 2010, IDC pegged 2014 tablet shipments at 46 million, and now it sees 35% more than that original figure three years sooner.

Tablet shipments ended up around 18 million for 2010. If IDC's 2011 forecast turns out somewhat close, that would represent a 247% annual increase in unit shipments. If we use an annual growth rate of 100% each year, 2014 shipments would fall around 500 million units. A 15% share would equal 75 million Windows 8 tablets shipped in 2014. To put that into perspective, today's PC market is roughly 350 million units, so predicting a 500 million-unit tablet market in a few short years is a tall order to fill.

The tablet market is so nascent that it's increasingly hard to forecast growth rates with accuracy. I think in the short run it's entirely possible for tablet growth to even accelerate as opposed to the deceleration in our scenario here. Either way, keep in mind that we're purely speculating.

Can Microsoft load Windows 8 on 75 million tablets shipped by OEM partners in 2014? As astronomical as it sounds, I'm going to vote yes on this one. Call me crazy, but I'm not nearly as crazy as the growth rates that the budding tablet market is showing in its formative years.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Apple, Research In Motion, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft and creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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  • Report this Comment On September 16, 2011, at 11:56 PM, FreeRange1 wrote:

    There is a gross inaccuracy in this article. The IDC numbers are for shipments, NOT sales. Apple in fact has between 80 - 90% market share of actual sales. Millions of the competitors products are sitting in warehouses and just aren't selling. As to MSFT, there is no way they will capture 15% market share in 2 years! They won't even launch a product until later in 2012, and the tablet OS they just demoed is no more than smoke and mirrors that consumers will be disappointed in. Windows 8 is nothing more than plain old Windows 7 with neon lights. Even worse, although still called "Windows", it lacks the ability to actually run windows apps. It will only run apps specifically made for it. This is going to be another "vista" moment for MSFT. Further, MSFT has become totally irrelevant in the mobile space. This same UI as the Zune and the current mobile OS both have been failures. There is no reason to believe their tablet OS, which mirrors both those iterations, will be any different.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 1:34 AM, pjmaroun wrote:

    "Windows 8 is nothing more than plain old Windows 7 with neon lights."

    Windows 8 runs on ARM/x86/x64 and has a much lighter footprint than Windows 7.

    "Even worse, although still called "Windows", it lacks the ability to actually run windows apps. It will only run apps specifically made for it."

    This above statement couldn't be any further from the truth--it is 100% compatible with Windows 7.

    And you should try using it before making statements like the ones above.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 2:11 AM, fatmonk wrote:

    As long as Apple makes enough iPads, it is hard for other tablet makers to gain market share. If w8 is released on time, stable and plenty of apps, Msft may have a change to license 18 millions OS. How may would be shipped? -- who knows.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 5:34 AM, GeorgiMilev wrote:

    I am fed up with the Microsoft PR that is going on in the recent weeks, including on this site. Sadly, it is not supported by anything else, except for the wishful thinking from Microsoft, and probably some VIP lunch and game tickets for the editors.

    Cut the BS, please. You are ruining your credibility for nothing.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 5:40 AM, GeorgiMilev wrote:

    @ pjmaroun: "Windows 8 running on ARM will not support legacy Window apps." It is all over the news. And no, thank you, most of us will not waste our time trying out Windows 8.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 6:46 AM, H3D wrote:

    "Can MicroSoft claim 15% of the tablet market?"

    MicroSoft can claim 250% of the tablet market.

    MicroSoft can claim that Windows is secure.

    MicroSoft can claim growth rates higher than Apple's.

    MicroSoft can claim that Ballmer is competent.

    MicroSoft can claim that they learned a lot from the Kin.

    Microsoft can claim that their Smartphone market share is increasing.

    Microsoft can claim that their customers are trapped and have little freedom to migrate to a better system.

    Microsoft can claim that they will continue to make oodles of cash for second rate PC software.

    And one of those claims would be true.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 7:00 AM, chip825 wrote:

    MS doesn't have a chance of picking up a 15% share of the tablet market. By the time they finally get a "real" product on the shelf. Apple will be launching IPAD-4.

    They are also missing the boat on the tablet market. Does anyone really care that an IPAD doesn't run MS Office? Would you really like to do a spreadsheet or business letter on a tablet. I think NOT.

    Tablets are not meant to replace real laptops or desktops. They ARE meant for consumers, social networking, web browsing, sales people on the go, insurance agents, doctors, nurses, etc.

    Apple is the only company that really understands what they are used for and that is why they will continue to eat all the competitions lunch.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 7:10 AM, H3D wrote:

    "According to figures released yesterday from market-research firm IDC... Research In Motion's PlayBook grabbed 4.9%..."

    And two hours later RIM's results showed that they has shipped 200,000 units in the latest quarter. If every one of those shipments is actually sold, it's still less than 2% share.

    HP had a five percent share, based on selling its $499 product for $99, and have now withdrawn.

    Sales after Samsung's launch of the Tab were either smooth, or small, depending on which version of the recording you listen too, but it looks like small or smooth still meant 2% of units shipped were sold.

    Samsung's latest effort is doing rather better, in countries that allow blatant ripoffs to be sold.

    In reality Apple have somewhere between 85 and 95% market of units actually selling to users.

    Microsoft have no recent history of breaking into a situation like that. But maybe the Kin is ready for a comeback.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 8:24 AM, H3D wrote:


    "They are also missing the boat on the tablet market. Does anyone really care that an IPAD doesn't run MS Office? Would you really like to do a spreadsheet or business letter on a tablet. I think NOT."

    I do, frequently.

    I use Pages and Numbers on a iPad.

    Some time back, someone pointed out that Pages on the Mac was a much more stable way of handling large Word documents. It didn't hang and crash regularly and take forever recalculating minor changes to the end of the document. And if you 're double siding, you've got a much higher chance of printing individual sheets, with the right two pages and the margin on the correct side!

    Soon I was using it for all my MS Office documents. I've had no complaints from MS Office users.

    The iPad / iPhone version is obviously lighter weight, but I think it will be a long time before MS have a mobile version available which is anywhere near as compatible.

    (years ago I used to move stuff between MS Word and MS Write via Open Office, because neither MS Word, nor MS Write could do it reliably. That's Microsoft)

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 8:53 AM, StanfordMBAFool wrote:

    I think some poeple are missing the forest through the trees of their own personal preference.

    Can you do lightweight spreadsheets on an iPad? Sure. Is it going to seriously make an impact on the tens of millions of users who use Microsoft to run their business-class spreadsheets? Not likely at all.

    There are no shortage of MS-haters & MS-doubters. But I would not count MS out in the tablet space. The biggest challenge for them is their platform ecosystem - they don't own the end-to-end experience. That's the double-edged sword in their business model. They live and die by the hardware created by others, the drivers created by others, and systems configured by others. They know it's an issue. That's why they decided to manufacture the Xbox themselves. It wouldn't work as a partner play. And belatedely decided to manufacture the Zune. They ran up against the limits of what their partners could turn out, in an arms-length ecosystem. Apple provided an integrated software and hardware experience, and clobbered them in the first round of tablets & music players. Their biggest advantage is their installed base of enterprise class apps and systems. Say what you will, MS is what businesses have chosen for their serious productivity apps.

    What people quickly forget is how quickly tech changes.

    Consider changes in smartphone leadership on an annual basis.

    1) Microsoft (yes, them. Look back to ~2007)

    2) RIM

    3) Apple

    4) Android

    A quick scan of Android shipments in the phone space shows that yes, competitors can make gains against Apple. And quickly.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 9:45 AM, TMFNewCow wrote:


    I'm fully aware that shipments does not equal sales, but I was talking on the same terms that IDC measures market share with, shipments. I agree with you 100% that when it comes to actual sales, Apple probably owns closer to 80-90% compared to the 68.3% share IDC quotes.


    Foolish articles express the opinion of the writer. It's pretty comical to think that Microsoft PR contacted me directly and offered me "VIP lunch and game tickets" to run a positive article for them. This may come as a surprise to you, but people can have independent positive opinions.

    If anything, I'm biased in favor of Apple since I own AAPL shares and do not own MSFT. Windows 8 is actually the only thing Microsoft has done in the past 10 years that I'm bullish on. You may note that in this article:

    I acknowledge that MSFT may overtake RIMM, which shouldn't be too tough at RIMM's current course, but don't think it will ever beat iOS with WP7.


    RIMM's just released PlayBook figures were indeed dismal. Here's my take on RIMM's ugly quarter:

    Ultimately, I agree with all the positive sentiment regarding iPad dominance as a shareholder, but you always want to size up your competition. I think Windows 8 looks pretty promising for tablets (but less so for desktop/laptops), although it may have some fragmentation due to ARM-based systems not supporting Windows 7 apps.

    Stay tuned for a longer article on Windows 8.

    Thanks all for reading,


  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 10:17 AM, H3D wrote:


    I think some people are seeing a tree and calling it a tree.

    If you consider that by giving away more phone OS's that Apple sells, that Google now leads the market, then perhaps MotleyFool is the wrong place for you.

    Motley Fool is an investment site. Apple makes many times as much money out of phones, as Google does.

    Still, accepting your example, if Microsoft give Windows 8 away, then perhaps they can share the none Apple Tablet OS slice with Google, all be it a couple of years behind.

    Maybe that gets them 10%. But whereas Google make money from the advertising, MS do not. Are they going to fight Google for the advertising market?

    No, MS sells software. Not hardware. Not advertising. Software.

    In the phone market, the telco's manipulate what is sold and make more money from none Apple devices. But that does not apply in the tablet market.

    In the straight competitive market that exists for tablets, MS will find it hard to compete with Android, and Android is failing to dent Apple.

    However, Microsoft may still make more money out of Android based tablets, than Google does. This is already happening on some Android phones.

    Only when Android finally ditches, or is ditched by, it's Android "partners" and attempts to push its own devices, will SmallFloppy stand a chance.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 10:38 AM, contrarian304 wrote:

    It is possible.

    As your numbers show it is a tall order. A lot has to happen in that time.

    1) Microsoft has to ship on time. ie ship in 2012

    2) Microsoft has to have a good product

    3) Consumers will have to see value in the platform and buy it.

    This also means more than likely that consumers will buy a Win tablet and choose it over Android and Apple.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 11:42 AM, 1984macman wrote:

    I've though for a while that the only companies that can compete long term with Apple are ones that can offer a complete computer ecosystem. After HP lost its nerve, that pretty much devolved down to Microsoft, with an outside chance for Google. But after seeing Microsoft's demo of Windows 8 and mulling their approach, I'm tending to think they're going to have a hard time bridging the gap.

    The problem is this: Classic Windows apps will require a mouse, a keyboard, and a decent sized monitor to be productive. Making the monitor a touchscreen will add little value, so why pay for it?

    On the flip side, an iPad-sized device running classic Windows apps that aren't optimized for the platform by adding a keyboard, a stand, and a mouse is just barely doable, but would only be useful in a pinch, not as a complete subsitute for a decent desktop or portable system. That won't add much value for most people.

    Bottom line; the Windows 8 approach is all about selling a gimmick that adds little value but extra cost. Users are smarter than that. In consideration of the above, I would be very, very surprised to see Microsoft achieve anything close to a 15% market share by 2014.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 12:16 PM, baldheadeddork wrote:

    I'm an IT technician and consultant for small and medium-size businesses. Microsoft's opening in tablets is the business market, and it is huge, but it has nothing to do with spreadsheets or word documents.

    For most of the businesses that I work with, Office isn't the most important program they use. The critical app is the practice or office management programs that have been created over the last couple of decades just for their profession. It's not an exaggeration to say that a medical practice runs on Centricty, NextGen, or another practice management/electronic medical records program. It handles everything from appointment scheduling to patient health history, to exam and doctor's notes, to billing. PCLaw does most of the same thing for law firms, and there are specialized management suites for accountants, engineers, realtors, and so on.

    I don't have a client that isn't at least very interested in deploying tablets. They cost less than a laptop and they're better suited for using the practice management software in meetings with the clients. But their critical software providers either can't or won't write an iOS app of their software, or they are only offering an iPad app as part of a new version of their software. That can cost over $100,000 for a medium size practice.

    Businesses want a tablet that can run their existing x86 software without modification or extra cost beyond buying additional seat licenses. That's the jackpot of the tablet market. For my clients, the take rate for tablets would be between 30-50% of their existing number of laptops and workstations, depending on the type of business.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 1:30 PM, 1984macman wrote:

    @ baldheadedork, (love the username, BTW!);

    You raise a good point about the market for tablets. However, the argument in favor of M-tablets falls apart when you consider that those tiny tablets would need a mouse and keyboard to run x86 software, unless those programs were rewritten to work by touchscreen. Ergo, one way or another, it's going to require a substantial upgrade, and a substantial investment, to link in tablet support to existing vertical market software.

    The problem is, Apple will be on its 3rd generation tablet, or maybe even its 4th, by the time MS comes out with its 1st gen. In addition, the installed base for iOS will be huge. The pressure will be enormous on these vertical market products to develop right now for the iPad, or risk losing ground to their competition. They just can't afford to wait.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 2:11 PM, CluckChicken wrote:

    "The pressure will be enormous on these vertical market products to develop right now for the iPad, or risk losing ground to their competition."

    Sorry I do not see why. What runs on the iPad does not run on OSX. Last anybody checked Apple still has no real interest in the business market. Businesses are not interested in buying 2 versions or training people to learn 2 versions of the same software.

    If Windows 8 works the way MS says it will this very well could be the thing that really gets tablets into the business world. MS has been working on touch screen stuff now for well over 4 years and they have demonstrated some really neat things. (Youtube: microsoft surface or microsoft milan)

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 3:11 PM, baldheadeddork wrote:


    Thanks for the compliment, but you're mistaken about needing to use a mouse/keyboard or rewrite Windows programs to work on a touchscreen.

    Keyboard and mouse input runs through the OS, not the application, and Windows has had on-screen keyboard and mouse capabilities going back at least to Windows 98. These are easily tied into a touchscreen. In fact, you can buy an overlay for your regular monitor that will turn it into a touchscreen and run it with any program. I just set up a customer kiosk system for a client using one of these last month.

    About the "huge" installed tablet base for iOS - let's keep that in perspective. Apple has sold about thirty million iPads so far. That seems like a big number, but if you want to talk about the installed base it's n-o-thing when you put it next to the approximately 1.5 billion personal computers in use. The iPad is a minor player even if you just want to look at current sales numbers. Even though this is going to be a disappointing year for desktop and laptop computer sales, Windows PC's will still outsell the iPad by more than 10:1.

    I know you could never tell it by reading articles here, but the personal computing market is still overwhelmingly dominated by Windows desktops and laptops. Everything else is a niche and will be for decades to come.

    Last, you may think there is "tremendous pressure" on the developers of PCLaw and Centricity to write for the iPad lest their customers switch to another product, but you couldn't be more wrong. Changing practice management programs is hugely expensive (I wasn't joking about the six-figure price for new software) and it's practically impossible to cleanly import all of your existing client data from another program. Tablet availability or unavailability is never going to move the needle on changing a program.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 4:33 PM, baldheadeddork wrote:

    @GeorgiMilev: " "Windows 8 running on ARM will not support legacy Window apps." It is all over the news."

    The Apple fanboi sites are hammering this, so I didn't want it to let it go without straightening out the truth.

    Windows 8 tablet edition will run with ARM, x86 and 64-bit hardware. If the tablet is using x86 or 64 processors, Win8 will be able to run Win7 software. Tablets using ARM hardware, won't.

    How much of a difference is this going to make when these tablets hit the market? I think the answer is going to be, not much. The ARM tablet is for the consumer market and it's going to be the direct competitor for the iPad and Android tablets. They're going to be great for watching a movie, reading a book, playing a game, surfing the web, and accessing things you might have on a home network.

    I expect the x86/64 devices are going to be aimed at business users, and it's not just for legacy software support. A business tablet also needs to be able to join a Windows domain network to access the database on programs like PCLaw or Centricity. Just being able to run the client software isn't going to do anything if it can't see the database. Users will also want to use printers on your domain, and you also will want to be able to centrally manage these tablets the same as you would with any other computer.

    If it sounds like the difference between Windows 7 Home Premium and Professional, it is. I'd bet that's how the tablet version of 8 will shake out, and If you want Pro, you're going to get x86/64 hardware.

    Is x86/64 hardware a tablet killer? If you read the Mac fanboi websites, you'd think so. "Microsoft has made it very clear that it expects tablets to run ARM processors, given the continuous failure of heavy, expensive, and far less efficient x86 tablets to find buyers in the market," is how Apple Insider put it.

    But that statement is a couple of years past its pull date. The XP tablets failed because they were running full-size laptop hardware. No one has built a Windows tablet with a low-power CPU/GPU and solid-state storage.

    The closest relative to the x86/64 Win8 tablet isn't the P4-XP tablets of six or seven years ago - it's a multicore Atom-powered netbook with a SSD. It won't be heavy, it won't be inherently more expensive than an iPad, and it won't be significantly less efficient as measured in performance or battery life.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 8:34 PM, melegross wrote:

    Baldheadeddork (also love the name!), I can't agree with you here. First of all tablet sales aren't locked to other computer sales, either in numbers, or in importance. What matters is the number of sales as an absolute, and so far, at this time, Apple has sold close to 40 million, not 30. Next year, it could be 60 or more. Most of the iPads sold will still be in use, so that will be a large number by the end of next year, around 100 million.

    We'll see far more by 2014. Assuming that MS will keep it's date of late third quarter next year, that will be a lot of catching up to do. Of course, Ms is late as often as it's on time, so it's 50-50 that it will make the holiday shopping season, making it even more difficult.

    But, whatever happens on shipping dates, there are still problems. We all noticed that they demoed Win 8 on a 11.6" device using a mobile i5, with a fan, and a hot, from some reports, vent. Why not a cooler i3? Because in order to get "the snappy" an i3 was too slow. Now, the fastest Atom is much slower than even a mobile i3, so hoping for the new Atom to be usable here is likely wishful thinking. By the end of next year, an i3 might work, but you never know.

    So we may not see 10" tablets run Win 8, because it needs the bigger screen. That means a bigger, thicker, heavier tablet that will cost more. No way to come to $500 with this, I bet.

    But the real problem will still be the OS itself. No matter what MS tries to do with this, it still runs a slightly upgraded (according to Sinofsky) version of Win 7, say, 7.5. This means that all of the problems running a Win 7 tablet are still there. Nothing's changed!

    So users of this will still have all of the problems they had running on a Win 7 "convertible". And this had larger screens. A stylus will still be needed, not an option, as touch still won't work properly on Windows, or the programs used.

    Is this what people are waiting for? I don't think so. There are already Win 7 tablets out. Not one has gotten a good review.

    And we can turn to Metro on Arm. What is that? Is it Win 8? Not really. If you ask the guy on the street what makes an OS the same as another; underlying code or the ability to run the same software, I bet all would say it's the software. And they would be right!

    This doesn't run the software, and so it's a different OS. This means that MS has no advantage over anyone else with this. I don't know how much WP7 software can run on Metro, and how much of that can take advantage of the screen size and other differences. But when this comes out it will be at a severe disadvantage to even Android tablets.

    And talking about business. You are totally wrong here. Business has been taking up the iPad in the millions. That includes the largest financial companies which have been buying them by the tens of thousands each. This has been reported many times. As for business apps. There are many. The largest business developers have been coming out with apps for the iPad shortly after the first one appeared. You lack understanding of how this works. No one expects, or wants a full blown CRm on a tablet. What they want, and have been getting are apps that allow entry to the company's network and databases, including the ability to modify information as well as pull up more.

    This is all available. Security is good enough for governments as well, with the EU making the iPad the official device for the EU Parliament. The Canadians have been using it in theirs, and the Dutch have made it official as well.

    In fact, it's difficult to find a business use, or governmental use where the iPad has not entered, successfully. This is also true for engineering and science.

    When you out the iPad down by stating that disproved bit about it only being good for media consumption, you show that you either dint know much about the device and the ecosystem built around it, or are trying to make others think it's not viable other than for minor usage. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    When MS was trying, years ago, to convince people to not buy Macs, they said that it's the software, stupid. The same thing can be said today, except when we're talking about tablets, it's the reverse.

    MS tablets will have a very difficult time succeeding. And if we look at the Zune, which began this Metro UI, and WP7, which is continuing it, we can see that both are terribly unpopular. Neither has gotten much last a 1% marketshare. There is no reason to think that this will do much better. It might, but both tablets, x86 and Metro/ARM will have a steep uphill battle.

  • Report this Comment On September 18, 2011, at 12:24 AM, baldheadeddork wrote:


    With all respect, you're wrong about iPad sales. Apple sold fifteen million iPad's in 2010. In the second quarter of their FY, which ended March 31, they sold 4.7 million. In the third quarter, ending June 30, they racked up 9.2 million. They will certainly break through 30m units this quarter, but as of the most recent numbers it's 29 million units sold, not 40m.

    You can say the relative size of the tablet market compared to PC's doesn't matter, but the guy writing before you did - and I was responding to him. Are you also going to say that the "massive installed base" of iPads are going to drive software development even if they're outnumbered 40-50:1 by Windows PC's?

    You're wrong about the clock speed on the Atom versus the mobile i3, too. The mobile i3 runs at 2GHz, which isn't more than the current multicore Atom runs at 1.8GHz. In November Intel will be shipping a new 1.9GHz Atom. You need at least a 10% difference in clock speed to see any difference on demanding applications, on typical tablet apps it will never appear.

    Also, the i3 doesn't run cooler than the i5. Both have the same TDP rating, both generate the same amount of heat.

    And the need for a stylus is dependent on the type of touchscreen used. It has nothing to do with the OS or the applications.

    About the hardware used on the Win8 demo tablets, I know this might be a bit unusual because you never see Apple's alpha platforms, but there are two time honored reasons why that tablet had the hardware it did. First, early builds of OS's are always, always, less efficient than final releases. Second, hardware vendors don't invest a lot in developing a machine for a show like this. The processor they will want to use for their Windows tablets next year isn't even in production yet. This was something put together quick and cheap for one show. Don't read anything into it.

    But the bigger problem with what you're saying is that you missed the point I was trying to make. The widely-held belief that a Windows tablet must be "heavy, expensive and far less efficient" is undone by Windows 7 running fine on 10", 1.5GHz Atom netbooks with 1-2GB of RAM. The touchscreen is not that CPU or memory intensive, there is no rational reason to believe that a Windows 7/8 tablet won't work on ultra-low power processors. Don't believe me? Go use an Asus EeePC for a while.

    I didn't bring up ARM very much because I really don't care about it, but as long as you have I don't think your definition of an OS is typical. Most people don't care what the OS is, let alone define it by applications. Outside of Appleland, people don't put a lot of thought into the version of an operating system they're using. I've never had an end user complain about only being on Home Premium instead of Professional. People buy what they need. If the ARM tablet lets him read a book, surf the web, play Angry Birds and stream Netflix to keep his kid entertained, it will do for him everything he expects out of a iPad and he'll cross-shop the two. May the best product win. But the presence of an x86/64 tablet for $150 more that can run his Windows 7 programs isn't going to create an overwhelming amount of angst.

    I'm not wrong about business adaptation for the iPad. It has been adapted for their employees by a few very large companies who write their own software, and some companies load a copy of their catalog and give it away to customers. But it has not made even a tiny dent in displacing the PC in day-to-day operations.

    And I'm going to call shenanigans on your claim that business has taken up the iPad "by the millions". Show me the numbers, because Apple has never broken them down (not that they could) and the most popular iPad apps (paid and free) are all consumer apps like Netflix, Pandora, Kindle and games.

    I'll also call BS on how you think "CRm" programs work. For starters, practice and firm management is totally different from customer resource management software. Second, what do you mean by "No one expects, or wants a full blown CRm on a tablet."? Client software is the client software. The hardware requirements are low enough for the whole client package to run on an iPad now, and there are companies that have created iPad apps. The problem is, as I said, users can't get it unless they lay out ~$100K for the latest version of the software.

    I didn't say anything about security on the iPad or that it's only good as a media player. But as long as you brought it up...the security is fine on the device by itself but since you can't add an iPad as a device on your domain you can't print to printers on your domain, you can't share files or access databases unless your app is written to skate around this (like PCLaw), and as an administrator you can't centrally manage or remotely support iPad users.

    About the iPad only being good for media consumption - I never said that. But look at the most popular apps. Google Earth, Pandora, Netflix, solitare....where would anyone ever get the idea it wasn't a serious business tool?

  • Report this Comment On September 18, 2011, at 12:59 PM, 1984macman wrote:

    @ baldheadeddork:

    First of all, let me say that IMHO your well-reasoned, well-written responses are a refreshing break from the usual nonsensical nattering of the fanclubs on both sides of this debate! It's vitally important that the nature of the coming clash be well understood.

    And clash there will be. You make some powerful points regarding the potential for a future x86/64-based tablet. And you make some valid points as regards the vertical market wall that iDevices have to scale.

    However, there are a couple of points where I disagree with you still. First of all, there's the issue of unit sales. It's true that to date the build for iPads is known to be about 29 million. But there are reports that this past quarter may have seen as many as 20 million more produced. If true, then that would indicate the present iPad unit sales may be approaching 50 million, with the big holiday buying season still to come.

    Yes, that number pales to insignificance when compared to the number of x86 platforms out there. But that's not the point. The point is that Apple is ramping up production at a fearsome rate, and that by the time that first generation x86/64 tablet goes on sale the number of iPads out there will be far larger than it is now - and continuing to grow.

    Even assuming the first x86/64 hits it out of the ballpark, and what, honestly, are the chances of that, Microsoft will then need to begin ramping production themselves at a fearsome rate - and selling into a market that might or might not "buy in" to the product. That's a high risk gamble, especially since Microsoft is dependent on outside hardware partners creating those machines. And that is why I say getting to 15% of the tablet market by 2014 is not likely to happen.

    The other proposition of yours that I would disagree with is that running Win 7 on a tablet is much of a sell. Why? Because while it may run the software in touchscreen mode, it is not going to run well. To run decently, the software needs to be optimized for the medium, and the medium is not a mouse and keyboard but a touchscreen. Ergo, any tablet that the vertical market wishes to use is going to demand a new OS be used. And that takes us back to the advantage Apple will have in early adoption.

    Bottom line: It will take several years for Microsoft to become competitive on the tablet. Then, and only then, will Apple and Microsoft truly lock horns!

  • Report this Comment On September 18, 2011, at 10:42 PM, baldheadeddork wrote:

    @1984macman - Thank you for your civil response. That's a pleasant surprise, too.

    I think twenty million iPads this quarter is a huge number, but whatever it comes in at is mostly irrelevant. The iPad will be the dominant player in the consumer tablet market for the foreseeable future. I don't think it's market share is sustainable because lower cost Android tablets are coming fast, but I don't think losing share is a mortal threat to Apple, either. I won't be surprised if tablet sales double every year for the next two or three years, and if Apple goes from having a 95% market share to something in the fifties their volume sales and profits are still going to explode. Apple is in a great position.

    About Microsoft having to ramp production if the Win8 tablet is a hit, I think you misunderstand. Microsoft is only selling the OS software. There's nothing for them to ramp up after the software is released to manufacturers.

    I also don't see this as a big gamble. They'll sell more than two billion copies of Win8 just to the desktop and laptop market over a 5-6 year lifespan. Using this OS update to create a tablet version is playing with the house's money. The added development costs are extremely small and the upside is huge.

    I don't want to sound rude, but you're wrong about needing to optimize a program to use a touchscreen. Here's how it works: The OS navigates the cursor and translates the mouse or keyboard commands to the program. The program itself doesn't know or care if the input is coming from a touchpad, a mouse, a touchscreen, or an optical scanner that tracks moves the mouse with eye movement and blinking.

    The Windows OS has been stable with touchscreens since XP. I've got clients using 3M touchscreen monitors with software that has no published support for touch input and it's worked for years without crashing or locking up. When there is a stability problem the cause is almost always the driver for the touchscreen hardware. Microsoft, like Apple, will write their own base driver and require hardware manufacturers to either use it or have their drivers tested and certified before they can be released.

    About the market potential for a Win8 tablet, I'm just passing on what I hear and see from my customers and other people in my business. Here's an example: Tablets will be a break through technology, especially in health care. Without a tablet a doctor and nurse either has to carry a laptop from room to room, or take notes on paper and enter them into the EMR program between patients. A tablet would be easy enough to carry, inexpensive, and it would literally save an hour of time for every doctor and nurse, every day. In some practices, tablets could pay for itself in a couple of weeks.

    If practice management/EMR software companies offered an iPad app on older versions of their software for the cost of an added seat license - or even a little more - I'd be supporting a couple hundred iPads today. But they don't. The only way to get the software on a tablet right now is to buy an upgrade to the most current version.

    When the x86/64 Win8 tablet ships, I can guarantee that most of my customers will order at least one for testing. If their software works on it, they'll want to roll them out immediately. That's what is going to happen, it's as easy to predict as the sun rising in the east.

    Microsoft can leverage their way into this market because all of these customers are already using the Windows client version of this software. If they create a tablet OS that runs Win7 software, businesses will at least test the Win8 tablet. If it works, if it gives them the advantages of a tablet without having to make an early investment in upgrading their core software, a 15% market share for Windows tablet will be the floor.

    Apple doesn't have that leverage. They can't force companies like GE and Lexis-Nexis to allow their iPad apps to offer legacy support, or to write an iPad app of the client software at all. Apple is totally at the mercy of these developers, and they have universally decided that it's better for them to use iPad apps as a lever to sell upgrades, when they offer them at all.

    Last, it doesn't take several years for any market to develop in this business. Just three years ago the iPhone was an upstart going against the Blackberry colossus.

    FWIW, I don't think there is going to be much of a showdown between Apple and Microsoft in tablets. If I was going to bet, I'd put my money on Apple and Android battling for the consumer market, while Microsoft becomes the big player in business tablets.

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2011, at 6:11 PM, rosswell wrote:

    There are differences in how software is designed for use on a touch screen, absolutely.

    I develop software and have been bitten by this.

    A prime example: the "hover" event. It does not exist in a touch environment. Touching something equals double-clicking it, generally. So all that good stuff that happens by hovering a mouse over things just ain't gonna be possible.

    I can agree that many software tools will translate OK to the touch environment, with few or no changes, but designing it for touch, rather than shoehorning an old program, is a much better idea.

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